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Dark Ages and Secularist Rages: A Response to Professor A.C. Grayling

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Filed under Culture, History

AC Grayling

A few years ago, Professor A.C. Grayling, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, wrote a column titled "The persistence of the faithful" in The Guardian.

Grayling's column was ostensibly concerned with the apparent decision of the British government passing the "Equality Act," which would make it law that adoption agencies, including those run by the Catholic Church, would have to allow homosexual couples to use their adoption services. But Grayling's column touched on a number of larger issues, both historical and philosophical in nature, which deserve some further response.

My goals in this article are modest: to offer some context to situate this discussion in a larger and older debate, to suggest some resources that might be of interest to readers, and to critique some of the premises set forth by Professor Grayling. I am certainly not an historian, nor do I play one on television or on the Internet, nor am I a specialist in matters medieval. And so I readily draw upon the knowledge and work of those who know much more about some of these issues than I do, perhaps pointing curious readers to longer and more detailed works of history, philosophy, and theology.

Grayling's column states:

"Seven centuries after the beginnings of classical civilisation in the Greece of Pericles and Socrates, an oriental superstition, consisting of an amalgam of dying and resurrecting god myths and myths about the impregnation of mortal maids by deities, captured the Roman Empire. Such was the beginning of Christianity. By the accident of its being the myth chosen by Constantine for his purposes, it plunged Europe into the dark ages for the next thousand years - scarcely any literature or philosophy, and the forgetting of the arts and crafts of classical civilisation (quite literally a return to daub and wattle because the engineering required for towers and domes was lost), before a struggle to escape the church's narrow ignorance and oppression saw the rebirth of classical learning, and its ethos of inquiry and autonomy, in the Renaissance."

Grayling admitted in later comments that his column "was of course brief, conversational, rhetorical and polemical only." Fair enough, but it is readily apparent where he is coming from and what he thinks of Christianity: it is an intolerant and despondent mythology that thrives on ignorance, oppression, and the suppression of knowledge.

Grayling describes himself as a "humanist" and an adherent of what he calls "secular, free-thinking, classically rooted inheritance." He is an heir to the Enlightenment and thrives on the sort of anti-Christian polemics and dubious historical assertions that became the rage among many intellectuals during the Enlightenment era, so much so that he seems to be nearly entombed in a dusty (dare I say "old-fashioned") form of simplistic skepticism that was in style many decades ago.

So, for example, his description of early Christianity as "an amalgam of dying and resurrecting god myths and myths", has far more in common (nearly everything) with the pseudo-scholarship of The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors, written in 1875 by freethinker and anti-Christian Kersey Graves, than it does with the sober historical, textual, and biblical research done by over the last several decades by men such as Jean Danielou, N.T. Wright, Richard Bauckham, Raymond Brown, Luke Timothy Johnson, John Fitzmyer, Bruce Metzger, John P. Meier, Larry W. Hurtado, and many others. Writing over fifty years ago, Henri Fehner (then a professor at Russian College, Meudon, France), observed that prior to the end of the eighteenth century "nowhere at any time had there ever been any doubt about the historical existence of Christ."1 The point here is not to launch an extended apologetic discussion on this topic, but to point out that Grayling's position is, ironically enough, antiquated and out of step with the best scholarship.

The same criticism can be leveled at this sweeping remark: "By the accident of its being the myth chosen by Constantine for his purposes, [Christianity] plunged Europe into the dark ages for the next thousand years." There has been much debate over the term "dark ages" and what era it might specifically describe, but modern scholars do not attach the term to a millennium, if they use it at all. Grayling himself admitted, when I questioned his sloppy use of the term, that "you are quite right to pick me up on the rhetorical flourish of 'a thousand years'; more accurately I should have nominated the period between (say) 320 and--shall we choose your date of 1145 as the beginning of the construction of Chartres Cathedral?"

No matter how short and popular the column, such a "rhetorical flourish" was not only inaccurate, it was used purposely to invoke the prejudices of a largely ignorant readership. This misuse of the term "dark ages," as well as the use of "medieval" in a pejorative sense, has been commented on many times by historians. For example:

"Both continuity and change are characteristic of the Middle Ages. This conception runs counter to ideas widely prevalent not only among the unlearned but among many who ought to know better. To these the Middle Ages are synonymous with all that is uniform, static, and unprogressive; 'mediaeval' is applied to anything outgrown, until, as Bernard Shaw reminds us, even the fashion plates of the preceding generations are pronounced 'mediaeval. The barbarism of the Goths and Vandals is thus spread out over the following centuries, even to that 'Gothic' architecture, which is one of the crowning achievements of the constructive genius of the race; the ignorance and superstition of this age are contrasted with the enlightenment of the Renaissance, in strange disregard of the alchemy and demonology which flourished throughout this succeeding period; and the phrase 'Dark Ages' is extended to cover all that came between, let us say, 476 and 1453."2

So wrote Charles Homer Haskins (1870-1937), America's first great medieval historian, over eighty years ago in his influential 1927 work, The Renaissance of the 12th Century. He also stated, in the preface, "The continuity of history rejects violent contrasts between successive periods, and modern research shows the Middle Ages less dark and less static, the Renaissance less bright and less sudden, than was once supposed."

Unless, of course, you are committed, for whatever reason, to rejecting the possibility that much, if not most, of what came into fruition in the Renaissance and Enlightenment was reliant upon Christianity and medieval culture and thought. Thus Grayling angrily writes of "the plan of Angela Merkel and the Pope to recycle the old lie that the enslavement of the European mind by the absurdities of Christianity are foundational to what is in truth our secular, free-thinking, classically rooted inheritance." Yet Haskins wrote that the twelfth century in Europe

"was in many respects an age of fresh and vigorous life. The epoch of the Crusades, of the rise of towns, and of the earliest bureaucratic states of the West, it saw the culmination of Romanesque art and the beginnings of Gothic; the emergence of the vernacular literatures; the revival of the Latin classics and of Latin poetry and Roman law; the recovery of Greek science, with its Arabic additions, and of much of Greek philosophy; and the origin of the first European universities. The twelfth century left its signature on higher education, on the scholastic philosophy, on European systems of law, on architecture and sculpture, on the liturgical drama, on Latin and vernacular poetry... We shall confine ourselves to the Latin side of this renaissance, the revival of learning in the broadest sense--the Latin classics and their influence, the new jurisprudence and the more varied historiography, the new knowledge of the Greeks and Arabs and its effects upon western science and philosophy..."3

This echoes what was stated two years earlier by philosopher and metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead in Science and the Modern World, based on the Lowell Lectures of 1925:

"The Reformation and the scientific movement were two aspects of the [historical] revolt which was the dominant intellectual movement of the later Renaissance. The appeal to the origins of Christianity, and Francis Bacon's appeal to efficient causes as against final causes, were two sides of one movement of thought."

And:

"I do not think...that I have even yet brought out the greatest contribution of medievalism to the formation of the scientific movement. I mean the inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labours of scientists would be without hope.... My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivation from medieval theology."4

Again, the point simply being that Grayling's views are not only distortions of the historical record, they've been out of date among scholars for close to a century. Which brings us to the person and work of Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), one of the finest historians of the past century. Dawson, a Catholic, has sometimes been called a "metahistorian" because of how he approached the big picture of cultures and historical epochs. In books such as Understanding Europe, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, Religion and Culture, Medieval Essays, and Progress and Religion (and the excellent compilation of essays, Dynamics of World History), Dawson explored the relationship between culture and religion, especially between European culture and Christianity. In the essay, "The Scientific Development of Medieval Culture," found in Medieval Essays, Dawson discusses the criteria used by historians in evaluating the role of religion:

"The ultimate criterion by which we must judge the value of a religion is not its cultural fruits but its spiritual truth. This, however, is not the criterion which the historian or the sociologist applies in his judgment of an age or a civilization. A false religion which produces a great art or a great literature, a religion which expresses itself in a brilliant civilization, will naturally be of greater interest to him than a true religion which produces only martyrs or mystics. But while the historian is justified in judging the cultural value of a religion by its cultural fruits, he has no right to treat his conclusions as final from the religious point of view. Actually, however, it is very difficult for an historian to preserve this distinction between religious and cultural values. If he believes a religion to be true, he will naturally tend to take a favourable view of the culture with which it is associated, and if he regards a culture as barbarous or unprogressive he will be apt to condemn or depreciate its religious standards and beliefs."

And then, a description that could just as well be put to the recent column and comments of Professor Grayling:

"Now it was on this ground that the traditional humanistic criticism of medieval religion was based. Medieval literature, medieval philosophy and medieval science alike appeared beneath contempt in the eyes of the Renaissance scholar, and still more of the philosopher of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and consequently medieval religion either shared in their condemnation or, still more frequently, was regarded as primarily responsible for the cultural backwardness of medieval Europe--in Gibbon's famous phrase, the Middle Ages were "the triumph of barbarism and religion."5

But, Dawson notes, way back in 1934, that such views were no longer tenable, nor in vogue:

"This wholesale condemnation of medieval culture has long since been abandoned by the educated world, and it was the rediscovery of the purely cultural values of the Middle Ages--of medieval literature and medieval art--which was the main factor in bringing about the change, and which contributed very materially to the wider appreciation of the value of medieval religion."6

And yet Grayling and others are able to be so unremittingly negative about the history of Christianity in general and the medieval era in particular because there remains, for various reasons, a huge chasm between scholarly research and popular knowledge. As Grayling's column indicates (and as he even tacitly admits), appealing to popular prejudices and longstanding stereotypes about the "dark ages" is often a successful polemical tactic. This is discussed at length by Régine Pernoud, a French medievalist, in her book Those Terrible Middle Ages! Debunking the Myths (first published in French in 1977), who summarizes part of the problem in this way:

"The Middle Ages still signifies: a period of ignorance, mindlessness, or generalized underdevelopment, even if this the only period of underdevelopment during which cathedrals were built! That is because the scholarly research done for the past fifty years and more has not yet, as a whole, reached the public at large. ... It is so easy, in fact, to manipulate history consciously or unconsciously, for a public that is not knowledgeable about it ... The Middle Ages is privileged material: one can say what one wants about it with the quasi-certainty of never being contradicted."7

Sociologist Rodney Stark, professor at Baylor University, goes even further in his recently published book, The Victory of Reason:

"For the past two or three centuries, every educated person has known that from the fall of Rome until about the fifteenth century Europe was submerged in the "Dark Ages"--centuries of ignorance, superstition, and misery--from which it was suddenly, almost miraculously rescued, first by the Renaissance and then by the Enlightenment. But it didn't happen that way. Instead, during the so-called Dark Ages, European technology and science overtook and surpassed the rest of the world!"8

Stark describes the "Dark Ages" narrative as "a hoax originated by antireligious, and bitterly anti-Catholic, eighteenth-century intellectuals who were determined to assert the culturally superiority of their own times and who boosted their claim by denigrating previous centuries ..." He goes on to provide a provocative and well-documented summary of the many scientific, technical, economic, and artistic innovations and advances of the medieval era, ranging from water-powered mills to chimneys to the harnessing of horses.9

Which is not to suggest that the history of Christianity from the fourth century until the twelfth century was one of steady and unhampered progress and success. Not at all. As Dawson and other historians readily point out, there were difficult, even dark, moments throughout, including the fall of Rome, disease and famine, various assaults by barbarians and, later, by Muslims. Nor is it to deny that there have been Christian despots, corrupt clergy, and lax laity. Yet Grayling apparently thinks that any mention of positive achievements on the part of Christianity is a naïve denial of any failures--as though any admission of Christian achievement is tantamount to kissing the hand of the Pope and begging entrance into the Catholic Church. Thus:

"From that point to this day every millimetre of progress in liberty and learning has been bitterly opposed by the organised institutions of Christianity, which at the outset burned to death anyone who disagreed with its antique absurdities--none of its officers ever being arraigned for these vast numbers of murders, or the literally millions of deaths caused by the wars of religion that plagued Europe, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries. But bit by bit religion was forced back into its own shadows by the new learning and the larger freedoms of mind and action that increasing secularisation brought, liberating individuals and societies to the extent enjoyed today.

But now that toleration and secularity has allowed the cancers of organised superstition to regrow, we see the old story repeating itself: the church battling to stop progress, to return us to the dark of prejudice and irrationality."

If I understand Grayling's argument correctly, he is saying that the last 300 years or so have witnessed a steady growth of liberty and tolerance that has been inversely proportional to the decline of religious (Christian) belief, which is full of prejudice and empty of reason. Secularism--that is, the absence of religion (again, Christianity)--is a force, or the engine, for freedom, tolerance, liberty, reason, and progress.

There are a couple of notable problems with this vignette of recent Western history. First, it begs the question: In a world of increasing liberty, reason, and tolerance, why would anyone see fit to return to darkness, repression, and intolerance? Sure, there will always be a few crazies and misfits on the fringes, but religion, which was supposed to die in the 20th century, has made a dramatic comeback in recent decades. Why? And how? Again, how can the supposed secular virtue of tolerance be the reason when the greatest secular virtue of reason should keep the enlightened masses away from Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and various forms of Eastern mysticism.

Secondly, what to do with Naziism and (especially) Marxism/Communism, the two most murderous ideologies of the past century? After all, both hated religion, especially Judaism and Catholicism, with a passion. Communism, in its various forms, promised liberty, progress, a life guided by reason, and freedom from religion. Grayling's answer to this is not convincing, but is rather revealing:

"Thirdly, the major religions and the major ideologies of fascism and communism are the same thing, namely, totalitarian ideologies--systems that seek to impose a monolithic outlook to which all must conform on pain of punishment including torture and death.

They are orthodoxies insisting that all must believe and act the same, under threat. In religion the threat is damnation; it used to be posthumous damnation PLUS the rack, the water torture, the auto de fe. Fascism, communism, religionism: the one difference is that the enlightened world rose up and defeated fascism and communism (at least the Soviet kind), the first in 12 years and the second in 70 years; but the resourceful reinventions of religion keep it alive, even through the liberating and enlightened centuries which have followed the breaking of the Catholic Church's hegemony over Europe and its extension round the world ..."

There is more than a little strained logic and notable ironies in Grayling's position:

1). He conflates fascism and Communism with Christianity, even though fascism and Communism hated Christianity for the same reasons he dislikes it, especially its insistence on an afterlife and a moral judgment based on actions and decisions from this life.10 This is akin to saying that observant Muslims and Jews are just alike because they are both monotheists. As simple as it sounds, it must be said that what ultimately distinguishes religions and ideologies from one another is not what they share, but what they do not share. Besides, it's not as though the real or potential punishments of imprisonment or persecution are absent from Grayling's secular society, since it (as does every society) requires enforcement of laws.

2). He scorns a "monolithic outlook" that demands conformity, even while insisting that all people must embrace homosexual acts as "natural"--this based on the very dubious assertion that such acts are as natural of "fact" as "being female, or black, or white, or heterosexual"--as though external physical characteristics (gender, skin color, etc.) should be confused with actions based on free will and moral judgments. (On what basis, I wonder, might Grayling condemn pedophiles or peddlers of pornography featuring children?) So now instead of the (mythical) Catholic hegemony we take another step closer to the (increasingly) secular hegemony, which operates via the application of a soft totalitarianism that is most certainly ideological and totalitarian beneath its veneer of patronizing political correctness.

3). He apparently believes that "tolerance" means agreeing with him, as in the Catholic Church must do as he wishes because, well, that is what he wants. And what he wants is for homosexuals to be able to force the Catholic Church to provide them with children, even though there is plenty of evidence that homosexuals are far more prone to violence, abuse, instability, depression, and suicide.11 How rational and caring is it to place children in homes where they are far more likely to be exposed to such problems?

4). He doesn't appear to understand that the Catholic Church (along with other Christian bodies) makes a clear distinction between the dignity and value of every person, and the moral value of that person's actions.12 Instead, he assumes that a moral judgment about an action is a wholesale condemnation of the person, and he concludes that this is "horrible and unjustified, unkind and ignorant." As opposed to saying that anyone and everyone who is a Christian is intolerant and irrational, regardless of whether or not they actually are those things.

We return, then, to Grayling's understanding of tolerance. He writes, in a comment on the Insight Scoop blog:

"I sorrow for my fellow human beings who languished under so long an oppression, and as you see, join with fellow humanists and secularists to save us from being dragged back into its shadows. We say to you: be free to believe what you like, but do not impose it on those of us who do not agree with you. That is our message; for then we can live in peace, you with your private beliefs in the private sphere, the public domain a neutral space where we can all meet as human beings, and respect one another on merit, not because of labels."

Which is simply the schoolyard bully saying, with a thin smile, "I'll leave you alone. Don't worry. Just give me your lunch money everyday and don't tell anyone about it and we'll get along just fine." Notice that the belief that the Catholic Church should be able to control its own affairs, especially when it comes to the well being of those in her care, is to be private.

Why? Because the secularist believes that is best. Why? Because the tolerant and open-minded secularist knows that sharing the public square would give religion implicit credibility; it would be a tacit admission that Christianity might have public value. And so he demands that religion must remain a private matter only, simply because that is his public belief, hoisted, however precariously, upon a platform of new "rights" that cancel out longstanding, traditional rights. So, instead of a place where ideas can be debated, the public square becomes, by default, the property of the secularist, who calls upon the state to enforce his "reasonable" and "tolerant" views upon everyone else.

This way of thinking has been described well by a man quite familiar with the ideologies and pathologies of the past century:

"Indeed, in a certain sense, scientific rationality is imposing uniformity on the world. In the wake of this form of rationality, Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner hitherto unknown to mankind, excludes God from public awareness. His existence may be denied altogether or considered unprovable and uncertain and, hence, as something belonging to the sphere of subjective choices. In either case, God is irrelevant to public life. This is a purely functional rationality that has shaken the moral consciousness in a way completely unknown to the cultures that existed previously, since it maintains that only that which can be demonstrated experimentally is 'rational.'"

And:

"The concept of discrimination is constantly enlarged, and this means that the prohibition of discrimination can be transformed more and more into a limitation on the freedom of opinion and on religious liberty. Very soon, it will no longer be possible to affirm that homosexuality (as the Catholic Church teaches) constitutes an objective disordering in the structure of human existence ... At the same time, it is equally obvious that the concept of liberty on which this culture is based inevitably leads to contradictions, since it is either badly defined or not defined at all. And it is clear that the very fact of employing this concept entails limitations on freedom that we could not even have imagined a generation ago. A confused ideology of liberty leads to a dogmatism that is proving ever more hostile to real liberty."13

That is how Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger accurately and with his usual clarity summarized the situation in his book, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, written shortly before he was elected to be Pope Benedict XVI.

Later, in the same work, Ratzinger asks the rhetorical question about his critique of the Enlightenment: "Does this amount to simple rejection of the Enlightenment and modernity? Certainly not!" He then notes that Christianity is rational, philosophical, universal, trans-political, trans-cultural, pro-man, and pro-life. "In this sense," he writes, "the Enlightenment has a Christian origin, and it is not by chance that it was born specifically and exclusively within the sphere of the Christian faith, in places where Christianity, contrary to its own nature, had unfortunately become mere tradition and the religion of the state". 14 Obviously, Grayling disagrees. But note that Ratzinger has no problem acknowledging whatever is good and true in the Enlightenment and in modernity. Compare that to Grayling's refusal to admit--despite much historical evidence to the contrary--that anything good has come from Christianity.

Whether in the realms of theology and philosophy (as Ratzinger demonstrates) or the realms of science and technology (as Stark argues), Catholicism has shown a remarkable ability to assess, incorporate, assimilate, and appreciate what is good and truthful in other religions and belief systems. An obvious example from the medieval era is Thomas Aquinas, who vigorously engaged with the thought of Aristotle and other pre-Christian pagan philosophers, as well as with some aspects of Islamic theology. It is easy enough, of course, to find examples in Church history of what would now be described as repression, intolerance or cruelty. More often than not, such examples are taken out of context, misrepresented, or judged according to criteria that didn't exist in the past. When Grayling speaks of the "cruelty of [the Church's] discrimination against women," he overlooks or is ignorant of how much better off women were in early and medieval Christian cultures than they were in ancient Greece and Rome15, not to mention many countries caught up in the fervor of the Enlightenment.16

In the end, the secularist view rejects all that is good about religion, especially Christianity, even while living off of the intellectual and cultural goods created by those who were supposedly superstitious and intellectually inferior. The Catholic view is far more open minded and clear minded, being open to what is good and true while being equally certain that there actually do exist things that are good and true. This is part of what G.K. Chesterton called the "thrilling romance of Orthodoxy":

"People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. ... The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable. ... It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob. To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom -- that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands."17

 
 
(Image credit: Telegraph)

Notes:

  1. "The Problem of Christ: The Myth of Jesus," Henri Fehner, in God, Man and the Universe, edited by Jacques de Bivort de La Saudee (New York, 1953), p. 219. An excellent overview of the short history of the denial of the existence of Jesus is given in Jesus Outside the New Testament, by Robert E. Van Voorst (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), in a section titled "Did Jesus Really Exist?" (6-17).
  2. The Renaissance of the 12th Century, by Charles Homer Haskins (New York, Meridian, 1927), 4-5.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Quoted by Richard Kirk, "Exercise in Contempt", (American Spectator, December 8, 2006)
  5. Christopher Dawson, Medieval Essays (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954), 135-136.
  6. Dawson, 136.
  7. Régine Pernoud, Those Terrible Middle Ages! Debunking the Myths (Ignatius Press, 2000), 18, 141, 142.
  8. Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (New York: Random House, 2005), 38.
  9. See Stark, "Medieval Progress: Technical, Cultural, and Religious," The Victory of Reason, 33-68.
  10. Profound analysis of this can be found in the works of French political theorist Raymond Aron (1905-83), including The Opium of the Intellectuals, Marxism and the Existentialists, and The Dawn of Universal History.
  11. See, for example, "Homosexual Parenting: Is It Time For Change?", American College of Pediatricians
  12. "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358).
  13. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures (Ignatius Press, 2006), 30, 35.
  14. Ratzinger, 47, 48.
  15. See Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), 95-128. "Although some classical writers claimed that women were easy prey for any 'foreign superstition,' most recognized that Christianity was unusually appealing because within the Christian subculture women enjoyed far higher status than did women in the Greco-Roman world at large." (95)
  16. See Régine Pernoud, Women In the Days of the Cathedrals (Ignatius Press, 1998). In Those Terrible Middle Ages! Pernoud argues that the Enlightenment repressed and destroyed many of the rights that women had enjoyed during the Middle Ages (97-113).
  17. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Ignatius Press, 1986), 305-306.
Carl Olson

Written by

Carl E. Olson is the editor of Catholic World Report and IgnatiusInsight.com. He is the best-selling author of Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? (Ignatius, 2003), which was selected by the Associated Press as one of the best religious titles of 2003, and co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius, 2004). He's also the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? (Ignatius/Augustine Institute, 2016) and co-editor and contributor to Called To Be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification (Ignatius, 2016). Raised in a Fundamentalist home, Carl attended an Evangelical Bible college, and entered the Catholic Church in 1997. He holds an MTS from the University of Dallas. A well-respected author, Carl writes a weekly Scripture column, "Opening the Word" for Our Sunday Visitor, and has also written for First Things, This Rock/Catholic Answers Magazine, Envoy, Crisis, National Review Online, and National Catholic Register. Find Carl on Twitter @carleolson and visit him online at CarlEOlson.net.

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  • Gray

    I wonder if Mr. Olsen would be so kind as to provide a link that to the article "The persistence of the faithful", The onehe provides in his piece does not seem to work, or provide the article itself so as to avoid putting words in Grayling's mouth, so that we could have a better understanding as to what both Graying and Mr. Olsen are ranting about. I have tried googling for the article itself even went to the Guardian website to search....but no luck. Perhaps because I am not a subscriber with them...nor do I want to subscribe. If there is some fault on my end.....I apologize....and would appreciate some assistance.

    • Mila
      • Gray

        Thanks Mila....at least you were responsible enough to clue me in even if SN did not care to provide the proper link. I do appreciate it.

        • Sorry about that. We've since updated the link.

    • carlericolson

      I never put words in the mouths of those I debate or disagree with. Which is why my post (originally written eight years ago), contained both the (original) link and quotes from Grayling. That aside, how does my response to Grayling constitute "ranting"? Do too many citations and footnotes indicate ranting? Just curious.

  • Yes indeed Grayling was wrong in his characterization of the early Middle Ages and he essentially admitted as much.

    However, it is also the case that there was a significant decline in Western Europe.

    In pretty much any metric, compared to the previous centuries, little went on between roughly 400 and 1000 AD. We can just look at architecture in England for example, we see roman roads, fortresses, the magnificent spa town of Bath, all left to ruin. We have significant religious writing, but significantly less economic activity and so on. The first crusade was 1095. The thing about Romanesque architecture, is that it is, well Roman. Yes, roman building techniques did survive, but it wasn't until the 9th century and really later that we get advanced in Western Europe.

    Of course it is silly to attribute this to Christianity, as, actually Rome did not completely fall, the Eastern Empire remained and Christian (though I do not know if Catholics accept this as the same religion...)

    It would seem that the question of religion was really rather irrelevant to the economic complexly or civilizations during these centuries.

    But this is why we shouldn't look to philosophers or theologians with respect to understanding history.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      In pretty much any metric, compared to the previous centuries, little went on between roughly 400 and 1000 AD.

      Well, there were those barbarians running around. Civil administration, never too firm in the Roman Wild West, collapsed and while the Germans admired Roman accomplishments and tried to maintain them, they didn't have the chops for it; and the Second Wave barbarians: the Saracens, the Vikings, and the Magyars had no regard for the Old Civilization.

      Historians call this period "dark" not because the people suddenly became stupid and forgot everything, but because much of the documentation from that era has not survived. As fast as they could write things down, saracens, vikings, and magyars would burn things up. Burgundy lies in the center of Western Europe, but it was ravaged by all three during this time -- making the original Burgund invaders look like classic Romans by comparison.

      England is a special case. Romanitas was thinner there and the
      Anglo-Saxons had not been in as close a contact with the Empire as the
      Franks and Goths. But in Gaul-becoming-France, the Latin classics were
      not lost. Alcuin (c.780) for example had access to Aristotle, Cicero, Lucan, Pliny, Statius, Trogus Pompeius, and Virgil, and quoted from Ovid, Horace, and Terence. Hroswitha of Gandersheim wrote six original comedies in rhymed prose in the style of Terence and an epic poem, "The Deeds of Otto." (No Roman women did not do such things!) There is also Lupus of Ferriers, Abbo of Fleury, Nokter Labeo, et al.

      Gregory of Tours wrote a History of the Franks; Paul the Deacon wrote a History of the Lombards. Einhard's life of Charlemagne was written in the model of Suetonius' lives of the twelve caesars. Pepin le Bref wrote to the Pope asking for Greek texts and men capable of translating them, and the Pope responded with Greek grammars, books of Aristotle and others, and Greek-speaking scholars. Boethius had begun the task of translating Aristotle into Latin -- something the Romans had never done -- before the Goths executed him for suspected treason. Macrobius, Pliny, and other encyclopediasts were in circulation and used in the cathedral schools that preceded the universities. (Which is why the early medievals knew of the three classic solutions to the motions of the heavens: geocentric, heliocentric, and geo-heliocentric.) Those fragments tell us that the world was not so backward as we used to think. It's just hard to read in the firelight of burning cities.

      Roman roads fell into disuse largely because the medievals were going somewhere else. Trade collapsed because the muslims had conquered the Mediterranean islands and boasted that "the Christians cannot float a plank on the Mediterranean Sea!" Since classical civilization had been centered around the Med, and sea commerce faster and less expensive than by land, and the Latin West had always been economically dependent on the urban, monetized Greek East, this was fatal to the Western economy. It took a long time to establish new trades in new commodities using North Sea and Baltic routes.

      • Of course there were always "barbarians running around". Historians no longer refer to this period as "dark" it is the early Middle Ages in my experience. Roman control may have been "thinner" in Britain, but thicker than in Germany.

        But I don't think we really disagree on the fact that in what was the western Roman Empire there was a widespread economic contraction.

    • Andrew Kassebaum

      Brian: I think most historians would agree that there was a decline in Western Europe, especially between the 5th and 9th centuries. There are numerous causes of this decline, some of which you mentioned in your comment. I don't think we can say that religion was irrelevant between 400 and 1000 AD. Rather, I would say that it was highly relevant (with positive, negative, and relatively neutral contributions). If you are interested, I would recommend Dawson's Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (mentioned in the article above).

      Much of the history that was written and preserved during these centuries was due to the philosophers and theologians (Bede, Isidore of Seville, and the Irish Monks, to name a few important contributors). So, yes, I think that they might have something to say about understanding history.

      • Well I don't see any relevant causation with respect to the general fact of decline. The entire empire became Christian, but the decline happened only the west. So it is not as if Christianity kills empires, otherwise we would be at pains to explain Byzantium. By contrast, it is hard to argue that it prevents collapse. My general thinking was that cultures of monasticism and an focus on the hereafter would have been a barrier to reconstruction of a united empire,but the this likely led to a diverse collection of kingdoms that allowed for more innovation.

        I think these are just too big of a movement to attribute anything like direct causation.

    • Van Parkman

      It's simple really. Rome was prosperous because it was an empire. It took more than 700 years from the coming of Rome as a significant city state until you have the first real Roman Emperor. The unique ways in which Christendom rose to power is quite extraordinary actually. The grandeur of Rome pales in comparison. Especially when you read modern histories on how unromantic the Graeco-Roman times really were outside of a purely idealistic paradigm.

      • I do not agree that Rome was prosperous because it was an Empire. Rome defeated Carthage, and secured most of its colonies and territory long before it became an Empire. Previous to that we have numerous pagan civilizations such as Egypt, Persia and so on.

        • Van Parkman

          The "securing most of its colonies" part...yeah. That's empire. When you control Egypt in the ancient world you basically have a surplus of food, when you control the Mediterranean, which is what happened after Carthage fell, you have a surplus of goods. If you benefit the most from the trade and multiply all that was great in isolation from Greek culture, then you get high-culture spread abroad all the more like never before. Why?empire. If you don't like the term "empire" then we can just use what you already agreed to use. Namely, conquering people and benefiting from the economic boom which follows. What do you think motivated Rome to keep expanding? Are you denying the impact economics has on culture? Or are you denying the impact conquering has on economics? Either way, it's up to you to do some serious muscling on the reworking of history.

  • I personally find the catholic church's view on many social issues progressive, such as capital punishment. But I do find it to be a barrier to providing substantive equality on a number of issues. It is inherently sexiest internally in terms of its hierarchy, it opposes governments extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, it is anti-choice, anti-birth control and opposes assisted dying. These are all minority positions in my country and our courts repeatedly oppose them for human rights reasons.

    I don't think it is out of bounds that when discussing issues with the Catholic Church and it claims to be a progressive force for human rights, we point out that this is the same organization that approved of pulling out the tongues and burning heretics. That approved of the crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Certainly there were other regimes during these periods that did similar things, but none of them have been I existence throughout this period and make claims to be applying a consistent morality. If they did, it would similarly be perfectly acceptable to attack them for their past. I don't care how much it says it has reformed itself, Maoism had a despicable record and has a lot to answer for before I will listen to it on human rights issues. Even if I agree with some of its foundational principles.

    If Catholics are going to claim to be right about same sex marriage for example, you need to explain how you got it so incredibly wrong for centuries on social issues and what you have done to fix your process. Why are you definitely right about this, but wrong for centuries on fish on Fridays, limbo, and burning to death as a suitable punishment to for heresy? As far as I can tell, your process is the same and we should not look to you at all for guidance on how to govern ourselves.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      I'm not sure that a brief century-long counterattack in the midst of a thousand year long jihad is such a terrible thing. In fact, the Genoan attack on Tunis was in response to the jihad that had left the townsite of Genoa uninhabited for two generations. The Reconquista was likewise a counter-attack, as was the Norman reconquest of Sicily.

      The Spanish Inquisition was a creature of the Spanish State, which was anxious to ensure a country-wide uniformity in loyalties. It was vetoed three times by the Pope, who acquiesced in the end when the Crown in Castile threatened to go ahead without approval. The Cortes of Aragon resisted because they already had a perfectly good medieval inquisition. The ecclesiastical courts were the last in Europe to approve the use of torture and the only ones to hem it in with all sorts of restrictions and rules. (Context matters. Police in the US continued to use the "third degree" through the 1950s. The early Nero Wolfe stories routine referred to police beating suspects.)

      Why are you definitely right about this, but wrong for centuries on fish
      on Fridays, limbo, and burning to death as a suitable punishment to for
      heresy?

      a) abstinence from meat was a pious practice, not a dogmatic belief.

      b) limbo was an open question, but seemed a logical resolution to the problem. It was never dogma.
      c) execution by fire was an old Roman practice and was revived by secular authorities following the revival of Imperial Law. The Emperors had claimed the right to execute heretics because Imperial Law made the emperor the head of the religion, and this did not change when the religion changed. This was to ensure uniform loyalty among the populace. The Church established ecclesiastical courts in order to forestall this trespass and people complained about the "habitual soft-heartedness of the clergy" because they only imposed capital punishment in the most egregious cases.
      d) That marriage can only take place between a man and a woman is a necessary conclusion. In Latin, it is hard to say otherwise, since 'maritas' means 'to provide a man with a young woman.' Furthermore, in no other interpersonal relation does the relation potentially result in offspring and therefore require some prior agreement on who will pay for rearing said offspring. Hence, there was no reason for the State to intervene by licensing and regulating other sorts of sexual activities.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        I'm not sure that a brief century-long counterattack in the midst of a thousand year long jihad is such a terrible thing. In fact, the Genoan attack on Tunis was in response to the jihad that had left the townsite of Genoa uninhabited for two generations. The Reconquista was likewise a counter-attack, as was the Norman reconquest of Sicily

        Not exactly. It was more the result of Urban II's propaganda. Basically the pope started a war on a false pretext. From Asbridge's The Crusades:

        Christians living under Muslim rule in the Levant were said to be reduced to a state of 'slavery' by 'sword, rapine, and flame'. Prey to constant persecution, these unfortunates might suffer forced circumcision, protracted disembowelment or ritualized immolation. 'Of the appalling violation of women', the pope reportedly reflected, it would be 'more evil to speak than to keep silent.' Urban appears to have made extensive use of this from of graphic and incendiary imagery, akin to that which, in a more modern-day setting, might be associated with war crimes or genocide. His accusations bore little or no relation to the reality of Muslim rule in the Near East, but it is impossible to gauge whether the pope believed his own propaganda or entered into a conscious campaign of manipulation and distortion. Either way, his explicit dehumanization of the Muslim world served as a vital catalyst to the 'crusading' cause....

        Excellent behavior for the 'Vicar of Christ". We haven't even gotten to the numerous atrocities committed by Christians during an unnecessary war started by a pope. Nor have we talked about how Christianity is partially to blame for these atrocities, even though I am sure there will be plenty of equivocation about what the Church proper did, as opposed to what Christians did under religious influence.

        a) abstinence from meat was a pious practice, not a dogmatic belief.

        It was a little more than a pious belief. Those who ate meat on Friday risked eternal fires.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          The war was started by the Saljuq Turks, who had broken the Roman Empire at Manzikert. The emperor sent out a plea to the West to send warriors to help regain his lost territories; viz., Anatolia. The times being ungeared toward instantaneous response, it took a while to get anything organized -- they did not then have the sort of totalizing States that we are accustomed to -- and in fact there was a first wave of enthusiastic but amateurish civilians who swarmed East and were massacred. The more disciplined knights and sergeants who followed in good measure were a different matter. They swore an oath to return recaptured territories to Roman control, and the Greeks helped them across the Hellespont. Greeks and Turks alike figured they would be massacred like the "People's Crusaders" who had preceded them.

          They were not. They defeated the Turks in a series of battles impressive enough that the Fatimid (Shi'ite) Sultan of Egypt sent them an offer of alliance against the hated (Sunni) Turkish enemy. (Unknown to the Westerners, because news was slow and the context not well known, the Turks who had harassed and attacked the pilgrims had recently been kicked out of Jerusalem by the Fatimids.) Matters continued apace until the Siege of Antioch. This city was still majority Greek and majority Orthodox Christian, but it was held by a strong Turkish garrison. The Franks were admitted through a minor gate by sympathizers inside the town, and they expelled the Turks. Then the main Turkish army arrived and besieged the Franks. Matters were looking mighty hairy when the Roman army (and another wing of the Frankish force) approached the Turkish rear. But they decided the matter was hopeless and turned back without offering combat.

          From that point on the remaining Crusaders regarded their oaths dissolved and they set out for themselves. (Except Simon Montfort, who went home in protest.) The desperate sally from Antioch followed by the panicked dispersal of the Turks followed, and the trope of the "treacherous Greeks" had its birth. Antioch remained in Christian hands until the very end. When Babar took Antioch, he ordered its gates closed and every man, woman, and child within massacred and to this day Antioch, once the Second City of the Eastern Roman Empire, is a poor, minor village in the borderlands of Turkey.

          Your information that warfare in the eleventh century involved atrocities just knocked me over with a feather. Who knew? We always thought they used down-filled pillows.
          ++++
          Those who ate meat on Friday risked eternal fires.

          No, they did not.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The war was started by the Saljuq Turks, who had broken the Roman Empire at Manzikert.

            Belloc thought so. This is not the consensus of modern historians.

            Matters continued apace until the Siege of Antioch. This city was still majority Greek and majority Orthodox Christian, but it was held by a strong Turkish garrison. The Franks were admitted through a minor gate by sympathizers inside the town, and they expelled the Turks

            You are leaving out a massacre, aren't you?

          • Mila

            The massacre was horrible and so was the sacking of the Latin Churches by the Orthodox. But how can anyone say that it was Pope Urban II propaganda when he was asked to go? Don't try and distract, you said that it was Pope Urban II propaganda to come up with a pretext for the Crusades. Four centuries of Muslim conquests, invasions, subjugation, persecution and then someone comes up with the idea that the Pope just lied and invented everything in order to have a pretext to defend the Holy Land and ultimately Christendom.
            That's what happens when one reads a so-called revisionist historian who omits 400 years of history.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I believe the historian mentions that it is impossible to know whether or not the pope believed his own propaganda. The point is that Vicar's of Christ should not be saying the type of the things that the pope said.

            Yes, most historians believe that Pope Urban wanted a crusade. The most common reason given is that he wanted to extend authority over the Eastern Church.

            Four centuries of Muslim conquests, invasions, subjugation, persecution and then someone comes up with the idea that the Pope just lied and invented everything in order to have a pretext to defend the Holy Land and ultimately Christendom.

            Without the crusade, who were the Muslims going to attack next?

          • Mila

            "Without the crusade, who were the Muslims going to attack next?"
            Well, they had conquered Spain, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, France.... Not so hard to see where they were aiming and going next.
            I still can't believe someone will deny 4 centuries of history in order to say that Pope Urban wanted a Crusade to extend power over the Eastern Church. Unreal!
            First, dont' forget he was asked by the Eastern Church to go and secondly don't deny Muslim invasions. Unreal!

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The historical consensus disagrees.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That's what happens when one reads a so-called revisionist historian who omits 400 years of history.

            And what historian should I read about the crusades?

          • Mila

            There are plenty, preferably one who doesn't deny 4 hundred years of history.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Belloc perhaps? Read his book twice.

          • Andrew Kassebaum

            For a solid Catholic scholar and historian, I would recommend Thomas F. Madden.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I have one of his books on my shelf. Haven't had a chance to read it yet.

          • Joe Ser

            http://www.amazon.com/101-Questions-Answers-Crusades-Inquisition/dp/0809148048

            101 Questions and Answers on the Crusades and the Inquisition: Disputed Questions

          • Joe Ser
          • Ye Olde Statistician

            There was no massacre at Antioch until Babar retook the city.

            The rules of engagement of that era was that a city that resisted a siege was subjected to a three-day sack. Cities that surrendered were not sacked. Those that held out were. This included notably Jerusalem, who thought the Fatimids would send an army to relieve them. They did not, though I forget why. The sack of Antioch by the Turks was extreme even by the standards of the day, and muslim chroniclers expressed their dismay. The later sack of Constantinople by the Turks was so bad, even by Turkish standards, that the Sultan called it off after only a day.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I'm glad that Christian armies weren't better than any other army and sometimes they were rather worse.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Your information that warfare in the eleventh century involved atrocities just knocked me over with a feather. Who knew? We always thought they used down-filled pillows.

            But the atrocities were unnecessary, because the war was unnecessary and foolish.

            Those who ate meat on Friday risked eternal fires.

            No, they did not.

            Yes, because it was considered a grave sin.

        • Mila

          Wait a minute, after 3/4 of Christian lands being taken 4 centuries of invasions, conquests, attacks starting in 634 AD and you accuse Pope Urban II of creating a propaganda war to justify the Crusades?
          So you mean to tell me that the besiege of Damascus, the battle of Yarmuk against Byzantium, the annexation of Jerusalem from Byzantines,the conquest of Iraq, most of Iran, Egypt, most of North Africa, Tripoli, Cyprus, Sind, Afghanistan, the besiege of Constantinople in 673, the conquest of Spain and imposition of the kingdom of Andalucia, the battle of Poitiers in France in 732 AD, the establishment of Muslims dynasties in Morocco and Tunisia, the conquest of Sardinia and then Palermo, Sicily, Italy, raids in Corsica and France, the Seljuk Turks attack and conquest of Anatolia and Nicea, the formation of extreme Islamic movements in Mauritania, the invasions and conquest of Palestine by the Turks, the conquest of Jerusalem in 1073 AD, the conquest of Ghana, countless confiscations of Churches and private property, persecutions, imposed special taxes.... was all just propaganda by Pope Urban II?
          I'm sorry Ignatius, but I've never encountered this kind of historical revision. Not of this magnitude.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            This would be like if the United States invaded a country for battles that happened 4 centuries ago. At the time of the Crusades, the Muslim kingdoms were fragmented and more concerned with internal divisions than Christendom.

            Not sure what Poitiers three centuries earlier had to do with the crusades.

            the invasions and conquest of Palestine by the Turks, the conquest of Jerusalem in 1073 AD

            This was Muslims fighting other Muslims. Nothing to do with the crusades.

            countless confiscations of Churches and private property, persecutions, imposed special taxes

            While there were spurts of intolerance, before the Crusdaes, Christians got alone fine with their Muslim rulers.

            I'm sorry Ignatius, but I've never encountered this kind of historical revision. Not of this magnitude.

            I quoted from a respected historian. A pope galvanized an unnecessary war. That is not revision. That is fact.

          • Mila

            "While there were spurts of intolerance, before the Crusades, Christians got alone fine with their Muslim rulers"
            I will quote a timeline from a friend at the Gates of Vienna. Please explain how great they got alone fine with their Muslim rulers. How can one even say that after armies conquered by the sword most of their lands?: That's the most ridiculous and typical of Muslim violence apologists and deniers.
            634—644 The Caliphate of Umar ibn al—Khattab, who is regarded as particularly brutal.

            635 Muslim Crusaders besiege and conquer of Damascus

            636 Muslim Crusaders defeat Byzantines decisively at Battle of Yarmuk.

            637 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iraq at the Battle of al—Qadisiyyah (some date it in 635 or 636)

            638 Muslim Crusaders conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.

            638—650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.

            639—642 Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt.

            641 Muslim Crusaders control Syria and Palestine.

            643—707 Muslim Crusaders conquer North Africa.

            644 Caliph Umar is assassinated by a Persian prisoner of war; Uthman ibn Affan is elected third Caliph, who is regarded by many Muslims as gentler than Umar.

            644—650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Cyprus, Tripoli in North Africa, and establish Islamic rule in Iran, Afghanistan, and Sind.

            656 Caliph Uthman is assassinated by disgruntled Muslim soldiers; Ali ibn Abi Talib, son—in—law and cousin to Muhammad, who married the prophet's daughter Fatima through his first wife Khadija, is set up as Caliph.

            656 Battle of the Camel, in which Aisha, Muhammad's wife, leads a rebellion against Ali for not avenging Uthman's assassination. Ali's partisans win.

            657 Battle of Siffin between Ali and Muslim governor of Jerusalem, arbitration goes against Ali

            661 Murder of Ali by an extremist; Ali's supporters acclaim his son Hasan as next Caliph, but he comes to an agreement with Muawiyyah I and retires to Medina.

            661—680 the Caliphate of Muawiyyah I. He founds Umayyid dynasty and moves capital from Medina to Damascus

            673—678 Arabs besiege Constantinople, capital of Byzantine Empire

            680 Massacre of Hussein (Muhammad's grandson), his family, and his supporters in Karbala, Iraq.

            691 Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad's death.

            705 Abd al—Malik restores Umayyad rule.

            710—713 Muslim Crusaders conquer the lower Indus Valley.

            711—713 Muslim Crusaders conquer Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus. This article recounts how Muslims today still grieve over their expulsion 700 years later. They seem to believe that the land belonged to them in the first place.

            719 Cordova, Spain, becomes seat of Arab governor

            732 The Muslim Crusaders stopped at the Battle of Poitiers; that is, Franks (France) halt Arab advance

            749 The Abbasids conquer Kufah and overthrow Umayyids

            756 Foundation of Umayyid amirate in Cordova, Spain, setting up an independent kingdom from Abbasids

            762 Foundation of Baghdad

            785 Foundation of the Great Mosque of Cordova

            789 Rise of Idrisid amirs (Muslim Crusaders) in Morocco; foundation of Fez; Christoforos, a Muslim who converted to Christianity, is executed.

            800 Autonomous Aghlabid dynasty (Muslim Crusaders) in Tunisia

            807 Caliph Harun al—Rashid orders the destruction of non—Muslim prayer houses and of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem

            809 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sardinia, Italy

            813 Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country

            831 Muslim Crusaders capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy

            850 Caliph al—Matawakkil orders the destruction of non—Muslim houses of prayer

            855 Revolt of the Christians of Hims (Syria)

            837—901 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France

            869—883 Revolt of black slaves in Iraq

            909 Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia; these Muslim Crusaders occupy Sicily, Sardinia

            928—969 Byzantine military revival, they retake old territories, such as Cyprus (964) and Tarsus (969)

            937 The Ikhshid, a particularly harsh Muslim ruler, writes to Emperor Romanus, boasting of his control over the holy places

            937 The Church of the Resurrection (known as Church of Holy Sepulcher in Latin West) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked

            960 Conversion of Qarakhanid Turks to Islam

            966 Anti—Christian riots in Jerusalem

            969 Fatimids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Egypt and found Cairo

            c. 970 Seljuks enter conquered Islamic territories from the East

            973 Israel and southern Syria are again conquered by the Fatimids

            1003 First persecutions by al—Hakim; the Church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed

            1009 Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection by al—Hakim (see 937)

            1012 Beginning of al—Hakim's oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians

            1015 Earthquake in Palestine; the dome of the Dome of the Rock collapses

            1031 Collapse of Umayyid Caliphate and establishment of 15 minor independent dynasties throughout Muslim Andalus

            1048 Reconstruction of the Church of the Resurrection completed

            1050 Creation of Almoravid (Muslim Crusaders) movement in Mauretania; Almoravids (aka Murabitun) are coalition of western Saharan Berbers; followers of Islam, focusing on the Quran, the hadith, and Maliki law.

            1055 Seljuk Prince Tughrul enters Baghdad, consolidation of the Seljuk Sultanate

            1055 Confiscation of property of Church of the Resurrection

            1071 Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks (Muslim Crusaders) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia

            1071 Turks (Muslim Crusaders) invade Palestine

            1073 Conquest of Jerusalem by Turks (Muslim Crusaders)

            1075 Seljuks (Muslim Crusaders) capture Nicea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia

            1076 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) conquer western Ghana

            1085 Toledo is taken back by Christian armies

            1086 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) send help to Andalus, Battle of Zallaca

            1090—1091 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands

            1094 Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I asks western Christendom for help against Seljuk invasions of his territory; Seljuks are Muslim Turkish family of eastern origins; see 970

            1095 Pope Urban II preaches first Crusade; they capture Jerusalem in 1099

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I quote academic historians, while you quote the Gates of Vienna.

            Edit: Much of what you describe is Muslim infighting.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The question is not the genetic fallacy, but whether the facts are correct. There really was an almost uninterrupted series of attacks by muslim armies on Christian lands over the space of four hundred years prior to the counterattack. The Romans of course had been counterattacking already.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Everyone fought each other. There was not a unified muslim assault on Christendom.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Who requires a unified assault? The crusades were not a war on islam, but an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem. At most, it was a war on the Saljuq Turks ruling Anatolia and Syria. The Saljuq Turks had attacked and broken the Roman defenses and occupied the heartland of the Empire. It didn't matter that the Fatimids or the Hafsids or the Black Sheep Turks were not a part of it.

            There was no unified response by Christendom, either. The biggest problem faced by the rulers of Outremar was drumming up enough knights in Europe to come help staff their armies. Once they made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, most of the crusaders went home, so there was a constant drain of manpower.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So do armed pilgrimages count as a just war?

            So the crusades were basically a complete waste of time. A lot of people died. The crusaders failed to make any lasting territory gains, and they stoked a religious war.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            No. It was common practice when crossing bandit-infested territory to go armed. In that day and age, making a trip of that magnitude was a major undertaking.

            A great deal in history could be seen as a waste of time. Especially by people sitting in armchairs a great distance from the action.

            What religious war did they stoke?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I see, so while making an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem it is good to go en masse and sack various fortifications (and massacre their inhabitants) that are between yourself and your destination. This is an act of war.

            Actually crossing into another country with a large army without permission is usually considered an act of war. I think you armed pilgrimage justification makes the crusades seem rather worse.

            I would say that the crusades heightened animosities.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Which pilgrimage sacked fortifications?

            The "crusaders" (the term is a late label, not used by the people of the time) took cities while they were reconquering Anatolia for the Romans or (after the Roman army turned back at Antioch) for themselves. But that in fact was a war, and they followed the rules of engagement common to the times.

            The ordinary knights and sergeants intended to make pilgrimage and, given the Turkish control and the general chaos due to the Turkish destruction of the old Arab caliphate, they knew they would have to fight their way there. But once having visited St. Sepulcher, most of them went home.

            Actually crossing into another country with a large army
            without permission is usually considered an act of war.

            Yes, when the Turkish army crossed the Roman border and attacked the Greeks at Manzikert, that was definitely an act of war.

            I would say that the crusades heightened animosities.

            Hitting a bully back certainly does make him mad. Chesterton said that once about the Prussians. A barbarian is someone who laughs when he hits you, but howls when you hit him. However, the crusades were largely forgotten in the House of Submission. The counterattack did not last long and made little impression in the long run. It was not until the colonialists began harping on it in the schools they set up there that it was driven into Arab consciousness.

            As for animosities at the time....

            The church of the Holy Sepulcher, built by Constantine, had been demolished in 1009 on orders from Fatimid Caliph al-Malik (The Mad Caliph). St. Mary on Mt. Zion was leveled, and St. Anne obliterated. The “Tomb of Christ” was chopped away down to the bedrock. This demolition was praised by the mullahs as a "holy work" and if it reminds you of how ISIS has been treating ancient treasures and works of art, it should. Europe was outraged back then and Sergius IV talked about a "holy war" to protect Christian shrines.

            Coptic and Orthodox Christians were compelled to wear black and hang meter-long wooden crosses from their necks. Jews were compelled to wear bells around their necks. It was during this period that many Jews and Christians caved and converted to Islam and (in the Holy Land) became "Palestinians." Egypt fell to 50% Christian.

            In 1065, Bishop Gunther of Bamberg led 7000 pilgrims, incl. nobles and an armed escort on a pilgrimage. They proceeded peacefully, but were attacked by bedouin while in sight of Jerusalem. After two days of being besieged in their wagon train, the knights finally armed themselves and repelled the assailants. They were finally rescued by the amir of Ramleh and his garrison, but only 2000 of the pilgrims returned to the Germanies.

            So there was no need to increase animosities.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Exactly why is it pious to make a pilgrimage that will knowingly cause all sorts of blood to be shed?

            The church of the Holy Sepulcher, built by Constantine, had been demolished in 1009 on orders from Fatimid Caliph al-Malik (The Mad Caliph).

            And his successor allowed the Byzantine emperor to rebuild it. You are tarnishing centuries of governance with the actions of one ruler that you admit was mad.
            All-in-all it was better to be a Jew in Jerusalem than France.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So do armed pilgrimages count as a just war?

            So the crusades were basically a complete waste of time. A lot of people died. The crusaders failed to make any lasting territory gains, and they stoked a religious war.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So do armed pilgrimages count as a just war?

            So the crusades were basically a complete waste of time. A lot of people died. The crusaders failed to make any lasting territory gains, and they stoked a religious war.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            There are no muslim crusaders; they are jihadis.

          • Mila

            I know but it is somewhat of an ironic qualification to refute those who state that the only violence was perpetrated by Crusaders. That's why they address Muslim crusaders... as irony.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Nobody said that. Muslims committed violence as well, but there was no need to launch a crusade.

          • Mila

            "Not sure what Poitiers three centuries earlier had to do with the crusades"
            I told you a timeline. 4 centuries of non-stop invasions by Muslims. As a matter of historical fact, Christendom had been invaded and conquered and those facts led to the launching of the first crusades.
            Let's see more than 300 wars all over Europe and how many Crusades launched? You do the math.
            In fact, Christendom would probably not have survived if it wasn't for the Crusades. You and I would be vowing to mecca today.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Again from Asbridge:

            ...the immediate context in which the crusades were launched gave no obvious clue that a titanic transnational war of religion was either imminent of inevitable. Islam was not about to initiate a grand offensive against the West. Not were the Muslim rulers of the Near East engaging in acts akin to ethnic cleansing, or subjecting religious minority groups to widespread and sustained oppression.

          • Mila

            Asbridge forgets how Muslims invaded Europe already and in the immediate context as well. It is also demonstrated how the Muslims advanced into Europe after the Crusades.
            I mean one has to be willfully blind not to see how the invasion of Spain, Turkey, Italy, France was not a provocation. Quite frankly I don't understand how the Crusades didn't happen earlier.
            And let me repeat it, you and I would probably be vowing to Mecca today if it wasn't for the Crusades.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Muslims were fragmented. More concerned with infighting than waging war against Christendom. The Fatimids wanted the Franks as allies.

          • Mila
          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Pretty high bar, there. Hindsight and detachment is wonderful luxuries for those who can afford it.

            The Arabs had been relatively tolerant, provided you paid the dhimmi. And at the time of the first crusade Egypt was still 50% Christian. But that was not true of the Turks, who were oppressing the Arabs as well as the Christians. The chaos in the Near East due to the Turkic invasions had unleashed warlords and bandits to attack pilgrimages. Further, the immediate motivation for the Roman call for help was the battle of Manzikert.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The immediate motivation was an extension of papal authority.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Not really. In what way was papal authority immediately extended?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Not all motivations come to fruition. That doesn't mean that wasn't the popes motivation.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            What is the evidence that this was his motivation? Or is it simply something that has been imputed to him by someone who doesn't like papists? Lukacs comments that even when well documented, purposes can be hard to discern and motives near impossible.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Not all motivations come to fruition. That doesn't mean that wasn't the popes motivation.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Not all motivations come to fruition. That doesn't mean that wasn't the popes motivation.

      • George

        "The Spanish Inquisition was a creature of the Spanish State"

        And just what kind of state was it? An atheistic state? How much influence did the RCC have on the people who made up that state?

        "It was vetoed three times by the Pope, who acquiesced in the end"

        do you think that was wise of the pope? yes, I am asking for your personal assessment, if you have any to give.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          And just what kind of state was it?

          Spanish. The Modern Age was dawning, and with it a sense of nationalism. Spain at this point was an amalgam of Castilians, Aragonese (Catalans), and others. The Inquisition was the only pan-Spanish institution, and it was intended to enforce uniformity on the subjects of the Crown in Castile and the Crown in Aragon.

          "It was vetoed three times by the Pope, who acquiesced in the end" do you think that was wise of the pope?

          It gave him a small amount of control to ameliorate its nationalistic excesses. In particular, it meant that the convicted could then "appeal to Rome" for a reduced sentence -- which they often got. Do not confuse even the Spanish Inquisition, infamous for three bursts of executions, with the modern secular Secret Police. There were cases of royal prisoners deliberately committing blasphemy in order to get transferred to more comfortable inquisitorial prisons. Then, too, it was the Spanish Inquisition that stepped forward and condemned the witchcraft trials when they became au courant. But my favorite episode was when the Suprema (the inquisitorial council) charged the Inquisitor General with heresy and he responded by charging the Suprema with heresy.

          Useful books:
          Edward Peters, Inquisition, which covers the form in general from its origins in the Late Roman Republic to its modern forms in grand juries, coroner's inquests, and special prosecutors.
          Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition, which addresses the history, the myth of the history, and the history of the myth.

          • Mike

            Thx for the suggested reading list at the end!

    • Andrew Kassebaum

      Brian: I'd like to add a few additional comments to supplement Ye Olde Statistician's post. I don't think the Catholic Church is particularly interested in being viewed as progressive, at least in the way the term is used today. Some of the Church's teachings and efforts may be seen as progressive, and some may not. Some may be backed by majority support, and some may not. What is a human right without a full understanding of the human person? And what does it mean to have a right to marriage? What is marriage? These are important questions, at least in my mind. Can we say that the Church is an organization?

      The Spanish Inquisition and Crusades are two of the most misunderstood epochs in the history of the world. Both are incredibly complex. YOS has addressed your concerns about fish on Fridays and limbo.

      By the way, where do you live?

      • I don't expect the church is interested in being viewed as progressive, I am. But What I mean by the term is actually furthering substantive equality. I live in Canada.

    • Gray

      Have you ever listened to the mp3 podcast that emanates from

      http://feeds.feedburner.com/catholic/cal.

      Then you will definitely start pulling your hair out. A Terminal brain killing podcast....get ready for your ultimate destiny....the ride to an of eternity Hell, if you have missed mass or had sex out of wedlock with the knowledge that it was sinful in the eyes of the Catholic Church. The Church teaching is that you may escape the eternity of hell, if for some reason you may not have understood that the Catholic Church was right on this matter...and if you are really, really sorry for your vile sin.

      • Mila

        You may not agree with the Church's teachings or not like them, but the Church is merely stating what was passed down to her. To miss mass is equivalent to not observing the Sabbath and that is one of the commandments. I don't think it is a sacrifice to go for one hour a week. I can think of worse things in life.
        As to having sex outside of wedlock is also something she inherited. The Church was passed down a moral tradition that centers on love and not lust.
        My point is that the Church cannot change what has been said. That would be hypocritical. The Church is not the editor of the message but the mail carrier. In a world such as today where sex is more important than anything else, a Church or anyone who merely mentions that there is a difference between lust and love is marginalized, and insulted, and attacked. I personally agree with the Church. We are all suffering the results of rampant promiscuity in society. And the worst of those consequences in my opinion is the objectification of women. We are seen and used as objects for the mere physical pleasure of men. That is a direct consequence of devaluing the sexual act from a manifestation of love to a means for selfish sexual pleasure. One can't no longer walk down the street without being bombarded with images of bodies of women as if we were only bodies. Then they say that women were treated much worse in the dark ages. I'm not so sure about that.
        With such a horrible present, I don't think anyone should dare judge the past.

        • Loreen Lee

          Yes. But a reasonable compromise has been made. The feminine have been given their freedom. They are now free to chose whether or not they will abort a child. Edit: After all with freedom comes 'responsibility'. Hegel: Freedom is the recognition of necessity. One interpretation. Or watch Father Barron's video on this comment thread.

          • Mila

            I wonder how the feminine inside the womb feel about that.

        • Ignatius Reilly

          You may not agree with the Church's teachings or not like them, but the Church is merely stating what was passed down to her.

          If bad things are passed down to me, I try to change them. This is not a justification of the Church's teachings.

          My point is that the Church cannot change what has been said. That would be hypocritical. The Church is not the editor of the message but the mail carrier.

          The Church has changed. Catholics like to use the word evolve, but evolution is change. I think protestants would have a few things to say about the Church's editing.

          One can't no longer walk down the street without being bombarded with images of bodies of women as if we were only bodies. Then they say that women were treated much worse in the dark ages. I'm not so sure about that.
          With such a horrible present, I don't think anyone should dare judge the past.

          Yes, compare this with the Dark Ages when women were only bodies to bear children and be used in a patriarchal society. So yes, women were objectified back then and worse. Personally, I find it is Catholics that do more objectifying of women than the secular culture.
          '
          The present isn't horrible at all. Women have more choice than ever before. Education, career opportunities, freedom from abusive partners, suffrage, access to birth control, and a whole host of other goods are available to women.

          • Mila

            "If bad things are passed down to me, I try to change them. This is not a justification of the Church's teachings."
            Only if you think truth is relative and human-made.

            Prove that dogma has changed. Protestants are the ones who have changed their doctrines and dogmas, actually.
            What makes a present "truth" true, if in the future it can change as if it wasn't true in the first place? What's the basis for truth, then?
            The issue here is not that something bad was passed down. The problem is that some will see truth as bad. I clearly don't and neither does the Church. The problem is that humans are constantly trying to accommodate truth to their likings even at the cost of living a complete falsehood and rejecting truth.

            I didn't know that bearing a child was looked with such inferiority these days. Even my nature is under attack these days. Yes, there were problems before but the present is equally or worse. That's my point.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Only if you think truth is relative and human-made.

            Nope. If I believe in objective goods, and I see an institution that propagates objective evils, then I would try to change the institution. Especially, if I believed that the institution was also the source of uncountable goods.

            Prove that dogma has changed.

            This is a shift of the burden of proof. You are catholic. You need to show that dogma doesn't change. It is your claim.

            Besides, dogma is a rather slippery word. One man's dogma is another's mutable doctrine.

            What makes a present "truth" true, if in the future it can change as if it wasn't true in the first place? What's the basis for truth, then?

            Not sure how I implied that truth is relative.

            The issue here is not that something bad was passed down. The problem is that some will see truth as bad. I clearly don't and neither does the Church

            This is your burden of proof. I disagree with your for multiple reasons, as do some of your fellow Catholics, and so do protestants.

            I didn't know that bearing a child was looked with such inferiority these days. Even my nature is under attack these days.

            It's not. I didn't say that. It is nice to have a choice about when and if you are going to bear children. It is also nice to have a say in whose children you bear. It is not your nature to bear children. This is what I mean about the Church objectifying women.

            Yes, there were problems before but the present is equally or worse. That's my point.

            You can have the dark ages. I like modern times. We have freedom, air conditioning, and plumbing. Seriously though, out time is a better time for women, because you can chose your own destiny, your own faith, and your own way of life.

          • Chad Eberhart

            It's certainly a sin of omission to say abstinence on Friday was merely a pious practice when it was considered a grave sin not to abstain unless you had a very good reason.

          • Mila

            Well you are the one who said the Church changed... So that's why I asked for you to prove dogma changing. People in it always change. I want to know how the Catholic Church for two thousand years changed one of its dogmas. That's what I gathered when you say the Church changed. We can't just throw comments like that and expect people to nod without an explanation.
            In fact, one of the strongest arguments for the

            You can disagree with what truth is but I don't think you would disagree that truth can change. That would imply that it wasn't true in the first place or that it wasn't perfect truth.

            As to your opinion on whether the moral teachings of the Catholic church are evil, well I disagree completely. Nothing more to say about that.

            So it is artificial that I can bear children? It is part of my nature as a female. It comes with the territory with the nature of being a female.

            I don't see what plumbing or air conditioning has anything to do with women objectification. They are more comforts, yet they haven't made us saints and are irrelevant in this conversation. We each live in our periods and adapt. Those things have absolutely nothing to do with this conversation.

            "because you can chose your own destiny, your own faith, and your own way of life."
            Can I? So if my way of life entails that I don't pay for other people's abortions can you guarantee me that I have a choice?

          • Luke Cooper

            I want to know how the Catholic Church for two thousand years changed one of its dogmas.

            A list of when extra-Biblical dogmas were introduced into Catholicism: http://www.bible.ca/cath-new-doctrines.htm

            A list of doctrinal "flip-flops" of Catholicism: http://www.bible.ca/catholic-flip-flops.htm

            Not sure how reliable the info is on these sites, but, if at all accurate, they highlight notable doctrinal changes over time.

            (Sorry for jumping in, Ignatius!)

          • Chad Eberhart

            The Church now participates in what it once used to consider a gave sin - usury.

          • Mila

            Not reliable at all. I just checked and is just some protestant diatribe with no basis at all. And most of them were not doctrinal or even changes.

            The other link that points out so--called extra-biblical dogmas is comical. They just reject the dogmas and say they are extra-biblical. Nothing that states dogmas have changed.

          • Luke Cooper

            Is it your position, then, that no dogma has ever changed throughout the history of Catholicism? I count the introduction of new dogma as a change.

          • Mila

            New dogma is not a change... It didn't change old dogma. Dogma can most certainly be developed and that is in the sacred oral and written tradition. "The Holy Spirit will guide you in Truth" implying that things will be revealed. Once revealed they are Truth because the source is Truth....

          • Luke Cooper

            Sale of Indulgences? That constitutes a change in dogma, correct?

          • Mila

            Here is a good article about the myth of indulgences....
            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/myths-about-indulgences

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I see even indulgences can't keep one from hell.
            Even though the purchasers thought otherwise.

          • Mila

            Actually that is a myth. A lie. Indulgences never ever saved anyone from sin. And the Church never stated that. They are reparations for the consequence of sins people already repented of. Reparation in the sense of the consequence of sin and not the punishment. Meaning that if you kill someone then you can try and repair the damage to the person you killed and your soul. Less purification if one starts here.
            All was clarified in the Councils of Constance and then again that myth condemned in the Council of Trent.
            I still can't believe that with the access people have today to actual council documents they continue to perpetrate such myths. I would understand something like that when abuse really happened and there was no internet that facilitated the exact Church's doctrine on it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Didn't I just say that indulgences can't keep somebody from hell?

            My point is that the purchasers thought they could.

          • Mila

            No, your point was to get off the subject of doctrinal changes as indulgences were never a changed. The sell of them was actually a disobedience of Church's doctrine.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Not really. I was just curious about the validity of these indulgences. I don't have an opinion as to whether or not the Church's stance on indulgences changed.

            If selling indulgences was a disobedience of Church doctrine, why did Pope Leo X do it?

          • Mila

            Now that is the best argument for the infallibility of the Catholic Church. Tell me, if even a Pope disobeys the Church yet he possessed the power to convene a Council to formulate new doctrine, why didn't he change the doctrine to suit him? What stopped him? He could have done it.
            BTW doctrine never changes and if a new doctrine is formulated only a Council overseen by the Pope has the authority to do that.
            Look at the Councils next time you want to argue that doctrine has changed and not the New York Times.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            only a Council overseen by the Pope has the authority to do that.

            Not exactly.

          • Mila

            Indulgences were never believed to keep people from hell in the first place.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Except by some of the purchasers. These purchasers weren't theologians. Just people who were being swindled by various churchmen, including a pope.

          • Luke Cooper

            From my reading, it appears that indulgences were once for sale. Otherwise, why did the church have to outlaw their sale in 1567?http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/nyregion/10indulgence.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Not only could you buy them, but you could also earn them by going crusading.

          • Mila

            lol indulgences were never outlawed. The sale was but then again that was not even doctrine in the first place, which is the point here. Don't try and change the subject. The subject was whether dogma ever changed.
            Oh I love it when people here try to change the subject when they clearly were unable to respond to the original post.
            And I love it when people here try and use insults or some protestant myths.
            BTW, I'm still laughing at the links your provided.
            Not even protestants with minimal history knowledge would ever post some of the things in those links.

          • Chad Eberhart

            If you "love it" and laugh at people, then maybe you better spend some extra time in the confessional and doing penance.

          • Luke Cooper

            I'm not trying to change the subject, Mila. I was asking about an issue that seemed to me to be a doctrinal change. You deny it as myth and nonsense. But I'm curious why Martin Luther thought it was such a problem. Laugh it up if it makes you feel better.

          • Mila

            I answered it already, but here goes again. It is not a doctrinal change. It was never doctrine to sell in the first place.
            I hope this answers your question.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Because it was a problem in Luther's day. It was the sale of indulgences that was a problem and Luther improperly extended that to the whole doctrine of indulgences. This came about because while many indulgences were granted for the saying of prayers and other private acts of piety, some were granted for public acts of piety like giving alms, endowing a hospital, building a church, and so on. Since these latter involved the transfer of money, in some cases large sums, they naturally attracted vultures who then went about soliciting money and promising indulgences in return and as the Nigerian Scam indicates, there's never any shortage of people who fall for it. Even prior to the Reformation, there were numerous instances of the Pope disciplining monks or bishops who made improper use of indulgences to solicit money for their facilities.

            Nowadays, such donors might get a hospital wing named for them, or get their name listed in the back of the booklet as this or that level of donor. Back then, it was a reduction in penitentiary sentence.

          • Mila

            Not really because indulgences are not dogma but rather doctrine and the actual Church's doctrine never changed on it. That some priests disobeyed the Church does not prove that the Church's doctrine, in this case, actually changed.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            so doctrine doesn't change either?

          • Alexandra

            Ignatius, doctrine can change.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So those poor souls who bought indulgences, did they work? Were they valid but illicit?

          • Mila

            So you want to prove that doctrine changed by this? Really?
            Those poor souls were victims of priests who actually disobeyed Church's doctrine.
            Oh I love it when out of spite people will try and deviate from the original post because they can't no longer argue in favor of it. Bottom line is that the doctrine of indulgences never changed and that is what is in the discussion here. Again you said the Church's changed so I ask you to please provide proof that dogma changed. Otherwise you might want to think before stating that the Church's changed.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Only Pope Leo X did it as well.

            Yes, people are the victims of religion. This is something that we can agree on.

            Doctrine changed on slavery.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/22/books/review/22STEINFE.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          • Mila

            No it didn't. Show me the actual change and not some slanderous paper that dedicates itself to attacking the Catholic Church. I wonder why?
            Oh and there was a mudslide on the west coast the other day.... that was the Catholic Church's fault as well.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The New York Times is one of the best papers in the United States. It has many catholic columnists. From the paper:

            His exhibit A is slavery. John Paul II included slavery among matters that are ''intrinsically evil'' -- prohibited ''always and forever'' and ''without any exception'' -- a violation of a universal, immutable norm. Yet slavery in some form was accepted as a fact of life in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, in much Christian theology and in Catholic teaching well into the 19th century. Noonan says that Christianity achieved a radical transvaluation of slavery. Jesus presented himself as a slave; slaves became saints; slavery became a metaphor and model for Christian life. Yet neither Jesus nor his followers directly challenged the institution of slavery. The fathers of the church accepted the buying, selling and owning of human beings. So did the popes: Muslim slaves were manning papal galleys until 1800. So did religious orders: Jesuits in colonial Maryland owned slaves, as did nuns in Europe and Latin America. Even St. Peter Claver, who in Colombia befriended, instructed and baptized African slaves, bought slaves to serve as interpreters. Theologians challenged abuses of slaveholding but rarely the practice itself.

            AND

            Noonan's other exhibits deal with usury, religious freedom and marriage. Lending money for interest, long condemned as usury, became accepted as lawful. In certain cases, modern popes have claimed the power to dissolve marriages once considered indissoluble. And instead of insisting on government's imposing legal penalties, including death, to uphold religious truth, today the church positively forbids it. Compared with Noonan's treatment of slavery, his accounts of these other areas are abbreviated -- most regrettably perhaps in the case of religious freedom. Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Liberty reversed a long-held position that ''error has no rights,'' despite the fact that only a few years previously a theologian like John Courtney Murray, the Jesuit whose defense of American separation of church and state laid the groundwork for the decree, had been silenced. This kind of dramatic rehabilitation gives heart, rightly or wrongly, to critics of other teachings, like those on women's ordination or sexual morality.

          • Mila

            Wow..... Really? Some opinion of someone now actually states that doctrine has changed in slavery? Wow
            And the New York Times is not one of the best. I mean how can someone state that doctrine in slavery actually changed from reading the NYT. Have you not read any councils? Has the NYT not ever read any of the Church's documents?
            Do you take the opinions of the NYT as Church's doctrines.
            Right there in the same paragraph you posted I see how incredibly ignorant it is. "Jesus presented Himself as a slave" And muslims slaves were manning papal galleys until the 1800... Wait let me have a cigarette and laugh a little. That's pure slander. That's comical and that's what you use?
            Again, my niece lost her toy. It is most definitely the Catholic Church's fault.

          • Ignatius Reilly
          • Mila

            None of them prove slavery condoning by the Church. In fact one is regarding Portugal and its colonies. Wait this was in the 1300s when most of Christian lands were enslaved by Muslims.
            BTW, tomorrow is going to snow here and it is spring time already and I'm very depressed about it. Most definitely the Catholic Church's fault.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No, it only encourages the conquering of non-Christian lands and the enslavement of non-Christians. That sounds like condoning.

            Exactly what do you mean that most of Christian lands were enslaved by Muslims? What lands are you talking about?

            BTW, tomorrow is going to snow here and it is spring time already and I'm very depressed about it. Most definitely the Catholic Church's fault.

            I don't think I said that everything was the Catholic Church's fault. Church has caused some good and some evil. The church is a product of its times - a human institution just like other human institutions.

          • Mila

            You mean that you didn't know that all of what it is today, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Corsica, Spain (Cordoba), Lebanon, Jordan was not actually attacked, conquered, invaded, subjugated, enslaved by Muslims.
            BTw, most of them were Christian lands.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I guess I should go back to Europe. After all, my ancestors took this country from the native peoples.
            At some point, those lands are no longer Christian lands. If you are going to enslave and conquer, in the name of religion, for 700 year old offenses, the world is in serious trouble.

          • Mila

            Wait didn't you ask "Exactly what do you mean that most of Christian lands were enslaved by Muslims? What lands are you talking about?"
            Changing the subject again.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Yes I did, because I figured that is what you meant. By the 1300s those lands were no longer Christian lands. That was the point of my analogy.

          • Mila

            How nice and unbiased the NYT is...sure

            Times nixes anti-Islam ad, runs anti-Catholic adhttp://dailycaller.com/2012/03/14/times-nixes-anti-islam-ad-runs-anti-catholic-ad/

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Your choice of reputable news sources is interesting. I do notice that you are not addressing the argument though. Is this a distraction?

          • Mila

            There is nothing to address when they are lies.
            But I do see how you have not yet addressed the original question regarding proof that the dogma has actually changed.
            I have been patient with you and defending every nonsensical attack you have made in order not to answer the original question.
            Slavery was never doctrine and it was condemned by the Catholic Church and I will not believe someone who is well known for inventing things about the Catholic Church. Peggy Noonan? Really? The most anti-catholic bigot in journalism.
            So instead of posting an article by an anti-Catholic bigot prove that dogma has changed.
            Wait, didn't you say that the Church changed her stance on slavery? What? Based on what Peggy Noonan said? See how ridiculous this is?
            Ignatius, I just broke a nail. Is it the Catholic Church's fault?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Of course it was accepted as a fact of life, because... wait for it... it was a fact of life. The Church was not engaged in optimizing secular practices, and so they taught: if you own a slave, treat him as your brother; if you are a slave, do your work with love. When in Western Europe, secular administration collapsed, a series of local councils made the slave trade untenable, so that the practice disappeared from the medieval West except for prisoners of war and convicts.
            452 (Arles) Protection of manumitted slaves
            511 (Orléans) Sanctuary for maltreated slaves
            541 (Orléans) Jews prohibited from owning Christians
            625 (Clichy) Prohibition against reducing free men to slavery
            644 (Châlon-sur-Saône) Suppression of traffic in slaves
            650 (Rouen) and…
            691 (Wessex) Sunday/feast day rest for slaves
            752 (Verberie) and…
            759 (Compiègne) Marriage between free and slave is valid

            Even in Roman times, we see that the graves of free men and slaves in Christian cemeteries are not differentiated as they were in pagan cemeteries. That is, they accepted the facts of secular life, but they disregarded it for all practical purposes. Slavery was not revivified in the West until the Early Modern Ages.

            You are confusing disapproval with the Late Modern practice of posing for the cameras.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So, the Church has no problem teaching that eating meat on Fridays during lent is a sin, but it won't teach, until the 19th century that slave holding is a sin?

          • Mila

            You clearly didn't read what he wrote.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I read it three times.
            He's basically giving evidence that the Church is a man made institution and a product of its times. Not Divine by any stretch.

          • Mila

            Here is some article you might want to read
            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/myths-about-indulgences

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I have already read that article. I did not claim that the Church changed her doctrine on indulgences. Her powers were certainly abused as religious power often is.

          • Chad Eberhart

            I've always seen dogma and doctrine used interchangeably. Can you explain the difference?

          • Mila

            Dogma is divinely revealed truth and infallible. An example would be: God is a Trinity or that Jesus Christ has two natures.
            Doctrine would be something like infallible or authoritative teachings by the Magisterium of the Church.
            Dogma is also doctrine but are those doctrines defined as divinely revealed in scripture or tradition and only a Pope or a Council has the power to declare dogma.

          • Luke Cooper

            Seems to me that Catholics can get out of anything because they refuse to call things infallible except for a few unfalsifiable claims. From what I can tell, there's no compendium on whether or not specific teachings are infallible; I wonder if this is on purpose.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Late Moderns always want to have things spelled out for them.
            Short list: anything spelled out in an ecumenical council; anything pronounced ex cathedra by the Pope. But notice that nothing is pronounced dogmatically unless there is a need for it. For example, one of the dogma raised by the Pope was the Assumption of Mary. This was believed since antiquity, but there was never any need to declare it dogmatically until some folks raised a hoo-hah about Mary. One of the reasons why there are dogmatic differences between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church is that the Latin West and the Greek East were sometimes beset by different heresies, and so had different needs to dig in their heels.

          • Luke Cooper

            Late Moderns always want to have things spelled out for them.

            You talk as if this is a bad thing. I'm in support of clarity and transparency, and against obfuscation. Should I apologize?

            But notice that nothing is pronounced dogmatically unless there is a need for it.

            To me, that's just an easy out. If one doesn't call anything dogma, then of course Catholic dogma never changes.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            If one doesn't call anything dogma, then of course Catholic dogma never changes.

            It would be so much easier if you would not obfuscate but simply point to a dogma and show how it changed. Instead we get disciplinary practices and other matters. Heck, there are practices which at this very day differ among the various rites of the church. (Priests in the Eastern rites can be married; so can those in the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.)

            Start with the Nicene Creed, which contains most of the basic dogmas. "I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth...." But if you like, you can consult the Acts of the ecumenical councils.

            I'm in support of clarity and transparency, and against obfuscation.

            That's the approach of the orthoprax religions like islam and orthodox Judaism: here's a list of rules. Do them.
            But there is also something to be said for thinking for oneself. Christianity is orthodox, not orthoprax. The Christian scriptures have been described as being not a list of rules to be obeyed, but a set of principles to be thoughtfully applied. Catholic teaching allows for a wide range of beliefs on matters not declared dogmatically. (Read Augustine, On Christian doctrine.) Only when they come under attack or when disagreements turn rancorous is there a need to settle the issue dogmatically. Look how long it took to settle the homoousian issue!

          • Luke Cooper

            It would be so much easier if you would not obfuscate but simply point to a dogma and show how it changed.

            It would be so much easier if your church would just list its dogmas. Don't blame its problems on me! Would all Catholics agree that the Nicene Creed is infallible dogma? What about all Acts of the ecumenical councils? Are they all infallible dogma?

            But there is also something to be said for thinking for oneself.

            Precisely. Thinking for myself is what got me out of my religious indoctrination. This statement is ironic to me; at least historically, I see Catholicism as an institution that does the thinking for its adherents so they don't have to.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            It would be so much easier if your church would just list its dogmas.

            Here's a start: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

            Would all Catholics agree that the Nicene Creed is infallible dogma?

            If they do not, they are not Catholic. But the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints; so no one gets thrown out unless they become obstreperous.

            What about all Acts of the ecumenical councils? Are they all infallible dogma?

            Okay, some of them are administrative acts, such as whether a bishop can move to another city. (This actually makes sense in the context of the imperial politics of the era.)

            "But there is also something to be said for thinking for oneself."
            This statement is ironic to me; at least historically, I see Catholicism as an institution that does the thinking for its adherents so they don't have to.

            Oh, that's true to some extent of all specialists. Listen to any scientist, for example. Or the kinds of references that have been given here of "changing" "dogmas," in which tendentious websites have done the thinking for the linkers. When other people lack either the time, skills, or inclination to dig deeply into a matter, one must always place some trust in another.

            But there has always been far more freedom than the rancorous have decided. Besides, the dogmas only affect the members. Is it "thinking for another" when the Democratic Party issues a platform? What about when R. Dawkins describes how genetic inheritance works? Or do we think for ourselves there, too?

          • Luke Cooper

            Here's a start: http://www.vatican.va/archive/...

            Can I consider everything here as infallible Roman Catholic dogma?

            Besides, the dogmas only affect the members.

            If only this were the case... I wouldn't be spending time online doing this otherwise. Catholic dogma is affecting women who want contraceptive coverage, same-sex couples who want to adopt a child, and more. Your statement is false.

            Or do we think for ourselves there, too?

            I think for myself in all of these cases. Unlike religious dogma, many of my beliefs open to revision with new evidence. I don't have to believe something just because somebody tells me to. I get to look into the issue and make my own decisions.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Can I consider everything [in the catechism] as infallible Roman Catholic dogma?

            "Besides, the dogmas only affect the members."
            Catholic dogma is affecting women who want contraceptive
            coverage, same-sex couples who want to adopt a child, and more. Your statement is false.

            I don't see how. There are plenty of avenues for those sorts of things. (I don't see why their boy friends can't buy condoms, for that matter.) Or are you talking about the real purpose: to force the Other to provide those things to you rather than going elsewhere?

            I don't have to believe something just because somebody tells me to. I get to look into the issue and make my own decisions.

            That's excellent -- would be if many of the things you have said here weren't hackneyed repetitions of old tropes -- but it only applies if you have the time, skills, and inclination to study the matter. A lot of people lack skills in particle physics, theology, 18th cent. French literature, or modal music. So "thinking for yourself" does little good when you have nothing to think with. It often boils down to "I don't like it, so it must be wrong." Or vice versa.

          • Luke Cooper

            Did you mean to leave the catechism question unanswered?

            Are you seriously suggesting that no Catholic dogma is being used in the political sphere to foist laws upon non-Catholic citizens? Catholics sure seem to argue for making abortion illegal and keeping same-sex marriage illegal. That's dogma that's affecting non-Catholics, yes?

            I don't appreciate you referring to my approach as "hackneyed repetitions of old tropes." As it turns out, I do have the time, skills, and inclination to study matters of importance to me, as do many others. Progressing toward truth is more important to me than using my feelings as the sole determinant of whether something is right or wrong. Are you suggesting that having someone think for you is the preferable route?

          • "Are you seriously suggesting that no Catholic dogma is being used in the political sphere to foist laws upon non-Catholic citizens? Catholics sure seem to argue for making abortion illegal and keeping same-sex marriage illegal. That's dogma that's affecting non-Catholics, yes?"

            Just because a political idea is Catholic dogma doesn't mean Catholics (and others) lack non-religious reasons for legislating it.

            For example, it is Catholic dogma that directly killing innocent people is immoral. But do you think, for that reason, Catholics should stop supporting laws that prohibit murder? Wouldn't such support "foist laws [against murder] upon non-Catholic citizens" and "affect non-Catholics"? Surely it would.

            Ideas should not be disqualified from the political landscape simply because they align with the teachings of the Catholic Church. That contention is anti-democratic and un-American to the extreme.

          • Luke Cooper

            Just because a political idea is Catholic dogma doesn't mean Catholics (and others) lack non-religious reasons for legislating it.

            What would a non-religious reason be for not allowing same-sex couples to marry? For forbidding contraceptives in developing countries?

            But do you think, for that reason, Catholics should stop supporting laws that prohibit murder?

            No, because murder is something that non-religious people agree should be prohibited. This is why I mentioned things like same-sex marriage.

            That contention is anti-democratic and un-American to the extreme.

            I did not make that contention. Nor do I think that a law should not be challenged simply because it aligns with the teachings of the Catholic Church or any other religion.

          • Adam Hovey

            We Catholics are against genocide too, is it then we should not use or faith to stop it?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Are you seriously suggesting that no Catholic dogma is being used in the political sphere to foist laws upon non-Catholic citizens?

            Laws can only be foisted by a majority vote of the elected legislature and the approval of the executive. That's why many bad laws have been imposed by direct judicial actions. I'm sure many legislators consult their own consciences; but those consciences are informed by a variety of things, and the latest polls are probably more incentive than any religious belief or philosophical conviction.

            Catholics sure seem to argue for making abortion illegal and keeping same-sex marriage illegal. That's dogma that's affecting non-Catholics, yes?

            No more so than the dogmas that imposed those things in the first place. Don't forget those were cultural norms in virtually all times and places until just a short time ago until a small minority in one particular civilization forced it on everyone else. It was not even until the mid-19th century that the State began requiring civil licenses and blood tests and the like. Like everything else the State touches, they managed to break it.

            I don't appreciate you referring to my approach as "hackneyed repetitions of old tropes."

            Perhaps I was fooled by seeing the same statements -- often in the same words -- repeated over and over in various times and places.

            Progressing toward truth is more important to me than using my feelings as the sole determinant of whether something is right or wrong.

            Doubtful, or you would be making logical analyses rather than emotional appeals.

            Are you suggesting that having someone think for you is the preferable route?

            Depends. I am willing to take the word of a nuclear physicist on matters of nuclear physics. I don't have the equipment or funding to run the necessary experiments for myself. I have also relied on English translations of source documents originally written in Greek, Italian, Polish, French, etc. I can weed-whack through Latin and German, and can spot check a bit in Greek and Russian, but generally I take the translators' word for it.

            Now, when and where I can, I will review source documents or conduct experiments and in mathematics and metaphysics followed the reasoning. That was how I began to realize that many of the gushings I've seen were spleenvents against straw men. I began to wonder why, if the arguments were so convincing, opponents never used them on the strongest statements. Instead, fundies beat up on cartoon versions of evolution (and respond much as some here have responded on the question of "dogma" to protestations that they were not addressing "true" evolutionary principles); and their kissing cousin atheist brethren beat up on Pastor Billy Bob Bible-thumper instead of taking on the A-team.

          • Alexandra

            "Unlike religious dogma, many of my beliefs open to revision with new evidence. "

            That's the beauty of Catholic dogma- the truth doesn't change. In my opinion, It would bother me if my beliefs could shift like yours. I would anxiously be making sure I had all this "new evidence". If "revision" can happen how could I ever know if my beliefs are true? What if even newer evidence presents itself?

            "I don't have to believe something just because somebody tells me to. I get to look into the issue and make my own decisions."

            Same for Catholics. If you believe something just because someone tells you to, then it's not real faith. If you reject Christ's teachings, you're no longer Catholic. But you do have a choice.

          • Luke Cooper

            That's the beauty of Catholic dogma- the truth doesn't change.

            Then do away with the hierarchy. Catholics don't need it and never needed it if the truth has always been self-evident and unchangeable.

            What if even newer evidence presents itself?

            Then I'd change my beliefs again. If that makes you anxious, I can understand why you need religion.

          • Alexandra

            "Then do away with the hierarchy."

            That's not possible for the Church- it would be rejecting Christ's teaching.

            "Then I'd change my beliefs again."

            If you don't mind me asking- does this happen often for you?

            "If that makes you anxious, I can understand why you need religion."

            I'd appreciate it if you didn't make assumptions about me.

          • Luke Cooper

            it would be rejecting Christ's teaching.

            Where does Jesus outline the Catholic hierarchy? My old restoration movement church only had elders and deacons, which were Biblical.

            does this happen often for you?

            I haven't had any large changes since I left Christianity 12 years ago. I am willing to update my beliefs again if I ever come across irrefutable evidence that are contrary to my currently-held beliefs. I think I've settled in pretty firmly where I am, but I am allowing for the possibility to change my beliefs if I see reason to.

            I'd appreciate it if you didn't make assumptions about me.

            You used anxious (actually, "anxiously") in your above reply. I didn't think it was assumptive of me to use the same root word that you used.

          • Alexandra

            "... elders and deacons, which were Biblical."

            The Church hierarchy is: the successors to the apostles (bishops), the elders (priests), and deacons.
            (All biblical .)

            http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/where-in-the-new-testament-are-priests-mentioned#.VRGiTECTwys.mailt

            http://www.catholic.com/tracts/apostolic-succession#.VRGgzDb9zVk.mailto

            I appreciate your answer to my question. Thanks.

            (To assume that I "need religion ", and to assume I'm anxious - which I never said I was. But know I will always give you the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps I misunderstood you.)

          • Alexandra

            Hi Luke, I just saw the edit. Thank you for the kind words. :)

            I was curious, did leaving your church and losing belief in God coincide- or were they separate?

          • Hi, Alexandra. The two coincided.

          • Alexandra

            Thanks. Take care.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            No it constitutes an abuse that was stamped out.

          • Papalinton

            "Not reliable at all. I just checked and is just some protestant diatribe with no basis at all."

            You're all Christians, For Christ's sake! Tribalism: 1 vs Ecumenism: 0

          • Andrew Kassebaum

            I have found that anti-Catholic websites are among the worst sources of reliable information on the internet. That is quite an accomplishment!

            For instance, look at the various dates listed for the introduction of infant baptism.

            And just for fun, here is Augustine on the origins of infant baptism: "The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic" (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]).

          • Luke Cooper

            Sorry, but I don't trust Catholic websites for reliable information about their own history. Conflict of interests. I said in my post that I didn't know how reliable the information was. What am I supposed to gather from that quote?

          • Andrew Kassebaum

            Yes, you mentioned that you didn't know how reliable the information was. My comment was intended to show you that the content is not reliable. The Augustine quote was mostly just extra information. But it also shows that the website is not reliable.

            Why are you on this Catholic website seeking information about the Church's history, if you don't trust Catholic websites for reliable information?

          • Luke Cooper

            How does the Augustine quote invalidate the website's reliability?

            I do not come here seeking information about the church's history, but for arguments regarding the existence of God.

          • Mila

            Because they are just quoting anyone and saying that it was doctrine. Beyond ridiculous! You will not find a half-decent scholar to take that site seriously. My advice don't use it again. There are other protestant or Catholic sources that are actually serious.

          • Luke Cooper

            Are there any sources that challenge your beliefs that you'd consider scholarly or serious?

          • Mila

            Many just not a source like that. A source that states that something such as making the sign of the Cross is doctrine and how we changed it, etc. I mean that's something a middle-school kid would write.
            And I don't even take some of Catholic sources seriously either. If its scholarly and founded on facts and not slanderous I would read it. I read a lot of protestant theologians. One of the things that attracts me most is how they explain their beliefs, especially of atonement, justification, etc.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The fundies' knickers are always in a knot over "extra-Biblical" doctrines in the Catholic Church. (They always seem to overlook the Orthodox Church; not to mention the Coptic and Assyrian Churches.) But the Church does not get its beliefs from the Bible; they get the Bible from their beliefs. Recall that the Catholic-Orthodox Church existed before the Bible was finalized. The Church chose which books to include, and took their time doing so. (And they also don't seem to notice that "Scripture alone!" is not supported in Scripture, either.)

            On the list of changes, only one of the bullet items even approaches doctrine, and it is mistaken. (The Church always taught the of "naturally Christian man" could be saved, and regarded Socrates as an example.) But immersion vs. sprinkling? Making the sign of the cross over the body instead of the forehead? Really? These are the best the fundies can come up with? (And you might notice that the Orthodox, Copts, and Assyrians also make the sign of the cross over the whole body. But the fundies only ever seem to notice the Catholic Church.

          • Luke Cooper

            I couldn't care less about those things, either, so we're in agreement there.

          • David Nickol

            The fundies' knickers are always in a knot over "extra-Biblical" doctrines in the Catholic Church.

            That doesn't seem to me to be a respectful way to speak of fellow Christians.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            So what?

          • David Nickol

            I guess if the Mackerel Snapper moderators here don't mind, I'll let it drop. :P

          • Alexandra

            Luke, "dogma" and "doctrine" are not the same thing. You are citing lists of doctrines, not dogmas. Mila asked to show when dogmas changed.

          • Luke Cooper

            Then point me to a list of every infallible Catholic dogma.

          • Alexandra

            "Then point me to a list of every infallible Catholic dogma."

            There isn't one list of every dogma. (I could be wrong.)
            The church provides its doctrine in written form of which dogma is a subset. All dogma is also doctrine.

          • William Davis

            This may be helpful to understand they have specific type of dogma, separate from the standard definition of dogma

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_dogma

            When arguing with catholics, Papal Bulls are extremely effective. They aren't exactly Dogmas, but the next thing to it.

            Here's a Papal Bull directly authorizing slavery

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dum_Diversas

            I'll let the Jews tell you what Catholics have done to them in their own words

            http://www.zionism-israel.com/hdoc/Papal_Bulls_Jews.htm

            You can google the Papal Bulls involved.
            Catholics defend themselves by demonstrating clear reversals from these positions, but even these are not technically Catholic Dogma, but these positions were dogmatically held by some.
            I had to learn some specifics of Catholicism myself, it is a bit different from protestant Christianity, but this makes them easier to pin down if you have a little familiarity with how their system works :)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Well you are the one who said the Church changed... So that's why I asked for you to prove dogma changing. People in it always change. I want to know how the Catholic Church for two thousand years changed one of its dogmas. That's what I gathered when you say the Church changed. We can't just throw comments like that and expect people to nod without an explanation.

            This isn't a debate I can win. If I show you somewhere that the church has changed, you will either claim it is an evolution or a that the changed teaching is not dogma. To me, the church has changed important teaching. Most observers would agree with me.

            You can disagree with what truth is but I don't think you would disagree that truth can change. That would imply that it wasn't true in the first place or that it wasn't perfect truth.

            I cold hold unwaveringly to a false statement and the statement would still be false. One would think that if the Church was inspired by God, she would be right about a lot more things, instead of having her rightness confined by the ever shrinking lines of dogma. Why didn't the Church realize that limbo was incorrect right away, instead of torturing mothers with the belief that they would never see their unbaptized children?

            Why does the church have doctrinal revisions, if God is guiding the Church? It would seem God could get it right the first time.

            As to your opinion on whether the moral teachings of the Catholic church are evil, well I disagree completely. Nothing more to say about that.

            It is evil to tell children that they or their friends could go to hell for trivial offenses. Or do you think that is a morally good teaching?

            So it is artificial that I can bear children? It is part of my nature as a female. It comes with the territory with the nature of being a female

            But it is not a woman's essence.

            I don't see what plumbing or air conditioning has anything to do with women objectification. They are more comforts, yet they haven't made us saints and are irrelevant in this conversation. We each live in our periods and adapt. Those things have absolutely nothing to do with this conversation.

            It was meant as humor.

            Can I? So if my way of life entails that I don't pay for other people's abortions can you guarantee me that I have a choice?

            How do you pay for other people's abortions?

          • Mila

            "This isn't a debate I can win. If I show you somewhere that the church has changed, you will either claim it is an evolution or a that the changed teaching is not dogma. To me, the church has changed important teaching. Most observers would agree with me."
            You will not win because the Church has not change Her doctrine.. You can't just present an article and state that because the editor of that article states the Church has changed that the doctrine actually changed. Show me the Councils where doctrine actually changed. Because, I'm sure you know, that doctrine can't change and if anything new develops, only a Council has the authority to develop new doctrine. Let me help you a little. There were only 21 Councils in 2000 years. Now, next time you want to claim that the doctrine has changed show me the Council documents.
            This is not a matter of opinion.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Does the Church still teach (From the 4th Latern Council):

            It would be too absurd for a blasphemer of Christ to exercise power over Christians. We therefore renew in this canon, on account of the boldness of the offenders, what the council of Toledo providently decreed in this matter : we forbid Jews to be appointed to public offices, since under cover of them they are very hostile to Christians. If, however, anyone does commit such an office to them let him, after an admonition, be curbed by the provincial council, which we order to be held annually, by means of an appropriate sanction. Any official so appointed shall be denied commerce with Christians in business and in other matters until he has converted to the use of poor Christians, in accordance with the directions of the diocesan bishop, whatever he has obtained from Christians by reason of his office so acquired, and he shall surrender with shame the office which he irreverently assumed. We extend the same thing to pagans.

            OR

            On Usury (From Nicaea):

            Since many enrolled [among the clergy] have been induced by greed and avarice to forget the sacred text, "who does not put out his money at interest", and to charge one per cent [a month] on loans, this holy and great synod judges that if any are found after this decision to receive interest by contract or to transact the business in any other way or to charge [a flat rate of] fifty per cent or in general to devise any other contrivance for the sake of dishonourable gain, they shall be deposed from the clergy and their names struck from the roll.

            OR

            From Vix Pervenit:

            I. The nature of the sin called usury has its proper place and origin in a loan contract. This financial contract between consenting parties demands, by its very nature, that one return to another only as much as he has received. The sin rests on the fact that sometimes the creditor desires more than he has given. Therefore he contends some gain is owed him beyond that which he loaned, but any gain which exceeds the amount he gave is illicit and usurious.

            II. One cannot condone the sin of usury by arguing that the gain is not great or excessive, but rather moderate or small; neither can it be condoned by arguing that the borrower is rich; nor even by arguing that the money borrowed is not left idle, but is spent usefully, either to increase one's fortune, to purchase new estates, or to engage in business transactions. The law governing loans consists necessarily in the equality of what is given and returned; once the equality has been established, whoever demands more than that violates the terms of the loan. Therefore if one receives interest, he must make restitution according to the commutative bond of justice; its function in human contracts is to assure equality for each one. This law is to be observed in a holy manner. If not observed exactly, reparation must be made.

            So the Church has changed her mind on two things. Allowing Jews to hold public office and usury.

          • Papalinton

            "I want to know how the Catholic Church for two thousand years changed one of its dogmas."

            How serendipitous. Grayling has a delightful thought on dogma:
            "G. K. Chesterton, one of the Catholic faithful, sought to discomfort non-religious folk by saying 'there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and don't know it'. He is wrong: there are three kinds of people; these two, and those who know a dogma when it barks, when it bites, and when it should be put down."

          • Mike

            Ugh! that's an ugly sentiment from this grayling!

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You need to show that dogma doesn't change.

            You could compare the terms of the Nicene Creed used in the fourth century to the one used today and see which one have changed.

            dogma is a rather slippery word.

            Not in the Orthodox or Catholic churches, where clear distinctions are made between dogma, doctrine, and discipline.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You could compare the terms of the Nicene Creed used in the fourth century to the one used today and see which one have changed

            That would be a quantifier fallacy.

            Not in the Orthodox or Catholic churches, where clear distinctions are made between dogma, doctrine, and discipline.

            I think this depends on the audience.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            "You could compare the terms of the Nicene Creed used in the fourth century to the one used today and see which one[s] have changed."

            That would be a quantifier fallacy.

            The contention was made that dogma has changed. The Nicene Creed contains most of the dogmas of the Church. Which ones have changed?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            How many does it not include?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Start simple. We can graduate to high school later.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Snark noted.
            I can tell you what my impression was of included catholic doctrine and I can tell you that Mila believes everything in a council is doctrine, which she doesn't distinguish from dogma. This includes some interesting statements about Jews.
            As far as I know, the words of the Nicene creed haven't changed since it was written. Besides the Nicene creed, what Dogma are you going to include and why.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Be careful about statements written in a language other than English. The words often don't carry the same freight.

            Okay, so the Nicene Creed hasn't changed. The Church still teaches the same-o, same-o.

            Now you can move on to the "Ten Commandments," guidelines for which can be found in the CCC.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Okay, so the Nicene Creed hasn't changed. The Church still teaches the same-o, same-o.

            So all dogmatic and required teachings are found in the Creed? Everything else is open to interpretation?

            Now you can move on to the "Ten Commandments," guidelines for which can be found in the CCC.

            I've already read that part of the CCC. Is there a point to this?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Is there a point to this?

            Beats me. You guys have been saying that Church dogma has changed over the centuries, and have been unable to cite a single example. At some point, the lack of empirical evidence should become bothersome.

          • William Davis

            I think we're back to an issue of definitions. There is dogma

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma

            and then there is Roman Catholic Dogma

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_dogma

            Ignatius is talking about dogmatically held doctrines which have changed, but Roman Catholic Dogma (a special subset of dogmas that I just found out about because the way you are talking) hasn't changed as far as I can tell. Perhaps we often need to declare definitions to avoid talking over one another.
            Until now, every time I've used the word dogma, I never realized this had a special meaning to a Catholic, important to know when I condemn dogma, I don't mean to condemn Catholic Dogma per se. I hold some dogmas myself, especially when it comes to human rights.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Not exactly. I was interested in two points. 1) Whether or not the Church should change if it was discovered that she held morally objectionable beliefs. Mila then asserted that the Church was God's instrument and her dogma's do not change.

            I pointed out that she would have to prove those two claims and I also pointed out that many Christians think that the Church's dogma's have changed. I also explicitly stated that I did not think that the dogma conversation was one worth having. Mila seemed to think that I was engaging in some sort of dodge, when I was only really interested in point #1 and also:

            2) Mila's claim that modern life is worse for women than the era between the fall of Rome and 1066 AD.

            I would say that the Church's doctrine's have changed and perhaps her dogmas. Problem is that if you limit the Church's dogmatic pronouncements sufficiently and limit those who can make them, it is not very remarkable that they haven't changed. It is also history written by the winners - Roman Catholic Church verses the other "schismatics" and "heretics."

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            I would say that the Church's doctrine's have changed and perhaps her dogmas.

            Of course you "would" say it. But it would be so much easier simply to cite a Church dogma that has changed.

            Problem is that if you limit the Church's dogmatic pronouncements sufficiently and limit those who can make them, it is not very remarkable that they haven't changed.

            How nefarious! The Church does not have every Tom, Dick, and Harry -- or perhaps, Arius, Nestor, and Martin -- to alter the teachings of the Church to conform to current fashion, political trends, or personal desires!

            It is also history written by the winners - Roman Catholic Church verses the other "schismatics" and "heretics."

            Do you mean to say that it is somehow wrong for the "Roman" Catholic Church to preserve its own teachings? Or the Eastern Orthodox Church? Or the Eastern Oriental Church? Or the Ancient Church of the East?
            ++++
            1) Whether or not the Church should change if it was discovered that she held morally objectionable beliefs.

            How in the world would one discover that?

            2) Mila's claim that modern life is worse for women than the era between the fall of Rome and 1066 AD.

            1066?

            I think she was responding to earlier claims that women were degraded during this time frame, when in fact they were liberated from Greek and Roman strictures. Now "worse" in the sense of "subject to barbarian raids" surely; but not worse in the sense of their role in society.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Of course you "would" say it. But it would be so much easier simply to cite a Church dogma that has changed.

            Doctrines change. Dogmas may change. Problem is that the Church acts like neither has ever changed. Your Christian brothers and sister would disagree with you about Dogma. I don't care to go down the rabbit hole.

            Do you mean to say that it is somehow wrong for the "Roman" Catholic Church to preserve its own teachings? Or the Eastern Orthodox Church? Or the Eastern Oriental Church? Or the Ancient Church of the East?

            Not at all. Mila offered it as proof that the Church was Divinely inspired. The point of my comment was that the Church's allegedly unchanging dogma is not all that remarkable.

            How in the world would one discover that?

            Reason.

            1066?

            Beginning of the Middle Ages.

            I think she was responding to earlier claims that women were degraded during this time frame, when in fact they were liberated from Greek and Roman strictures. Now "worse" in the sense of "subject to barbarian raids" surely; but not worse in the sense of their role in society.

            I see. Freedom is very degrading. Women have much better opportunities in society now than they ever have in the past.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Doctrines change. Dogmas may change. Problem is that the Church acts like neither has ever changed.

            Again, citing a specific empirical example is worth more than all the bald assertions.

            "How in the world would one discover that [the Church held morally objectionable beliefs]?"

            Reason.

            To do that you would need to have an external standard of what constitutes "morally objectionable." Where did it come from?

            [1066 was the] Beginning of the Middle Ages.

            The usual conventional date is the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in AD 476. Regine Pernoud suggests this or AD 410 as starting points for the Frankish period, the first of the ages in the Middle Ages. It came to an end with the accession of the Carolingians in the mid-eighth century, and this age in turn came to an end in AD 1000, with the defeat of the last magyar horde at the Battle of Lechfeld, which marks the end of the barbarian Volkerwanderung. AFAIK, AD 1066 marks only the introduction of feudal practices already common in the West into an island kingdom on its edge.

            Freedom is very degrading.

            It can be; though much depends on one's concept of "freedom."

            Women have much better opportunities in society now than they ever have in the past.

            Maybe, as long as they are opportunities to act like men. But it took a long time for them to regain what they had lost after the Act of Lemaitre in the Etat Generale and the subsequent Early Modern Age. Again, I recommend both the relevant chapter in Regine Pernoud's Those Terrible Middle Ages!
            http://www.amazon.com/Those-Terrible-Middle-Ages-Debunking/dp/0898707811

            "The Middle Ages -- those one thousand years of Western history between 500 and 1500 AD -- witnessed the abolition of slavery, the liberation of women, checks and balances on absolutism, artistic achievements of medieval cathedrals, inventions of the book, the musical scale, and the mechanical clock."

            -- Forward to Those Terrible Middle Ages!

            Or her book Women in the Age of the Cathedrals
            http://www.amazon.com/Women-Days-Cathedrals-R%C3%A9gine-Pernoud/dp/0898706424/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427491533&sr=1-7

            "When we study the history of the Western world, it is striking to see to what extent it was male-oriented until the fifth century. How many women could we name who lived throughout the centuries of the Roman Empire? Certainly, we know of Agrippina, Nero's mother, but for French people this is due more to the dramatist Racine than to Tacitus. Many coins bear the effigy of Faustina, but what do we know of her? The textbooks on Roman history that were once inflicted on schoolchildren, although terribly verbose about ancient civilization, did not even mention this empress who is known only through her profile.

            With Clotilda, the presence of women becomes noticeable, and their influence, certain."
            -- Ch. 1, Women in the Days of the Cathedrals

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Again, citing a specific empirical example is worth more than all the bald assertions

            How often should we go to confession in our lifetime?

            To do that you would need to have an external standard of what constitutes "morally objectionable." Where did it come from?

            Property of creatures with free will and intellect. We discover it like we discover mathematics or science.

            God is unnecessary. Indeed, even if he existed, I would not say he is the source of morals, because they are still a property of beings with free will and intellect.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma

            The usual conventional date is the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in AD 476. Regine Pernoud suggests this or AD 410 as starting points for the Frankish period, the first of the ages in the Middle Ages. It came to an end with the accession of the Carolingians in the mid-eighth century, and this age in turn came to an end in AD 1000, with the defeat of the last magyar horde at the Battle of Lechfeld, which marks the end of the barbarian Volkerwanderung. AFAIK, AD 1066 marks only the introduction of feudal practices already common in the West into an island kingdom on its edge.

            High Middle Ages. I remember 1066 being an acceptable date to mark the beginning of the period, though other dates are also acceptable.

            Maybe, as long as they are opportunities to act like men.

            Not at all.

          • Mila

            My claim is that if you think women today are better off when even their nature is under attack then you better think again. If you read the comments here you will see how I got attacked for merely stating that being a mother was the best thing for me. Read it. I was told that I was the cause of the problem for women today. That my mentality was antiquated, etc. How can someone who was born out of a woman even dare say such nonsense?!
            My other point is that today women are also treated as a pair of boobs, etc. You can't buy a single magazine where women are not objectified.
            My grandmother who is now 98 years old and still living would tell me how different the treatment used to be.
            The worst thing of all is that most of these objectification is propagated by the same women who resent their wombs and the useful idiots who believe them.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            If you read the comments here you will see how I got attacked for merely stating that being a mother was the best thing for me. Read it. I was told that I was the cause of the problem for women today. That my mentality was antiquated, etc. How can someone who was born out of a woman even dare say such nonsense?!

            You have the freedom to chose what is best for you. I certainly did not say those things.

            My other point is that today women are also treated as a pair of boobs, etc. You can't buy a single magazine where women are not objectified.
            My grandmother who is now 98 years old and still living would tell me how different the treatment used to be.

            Yes, marketers and advertisers do use sex to sell. However, I do think that is indicative of how an entire society views women (or men for that matter). Men and women are all equally human and equally deserving of respect and liberty. I think it is better for women to be treated as an equal rather than a fragile creature to be put on a pedestal.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Be careful about statements written in a language other than English. The words often don't carry the same freight.

            Okay, so the Nicene Creed hasn't changed. The Church still teaches the same-o, same-o.

            Now you can move on to the "Ten Commandments," guidelines for which can be found in the CCC.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Be careful about statements written in a language other than English. The words often don't carry the same freight.

            Okay, so the Nicene Creed hasn't changed. The Church still teaches the same-o, same-o.

            Now you can move on to the "Ten Commandments," guidelines for which can be found in the CCC.

          • Chad Eberhart

            It hasn't for the Orthodox but it has for Catholics.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filioque

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Clearly they have their unchangeable dogma wrong. It's amusing that the Orthodox would label the Roman Catholics as the true heretics.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You and Mila are operating with different definitions. Which one of you is correct?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You have an uninformed attitude toward even the Dark Age, let alone the entire medieval period. A useful book to read would be Regine Pernoud's Women in the Days of the Cathedrals. It is also a chapter in her Those Terrible Middle Ages!

            The tax rolls of Paris and the Inquiries of King Louis reveal women to have been engaged in a wide range of pursuits. The could own, buy and sell property; they could start businesses (without needing a husband's permission); they could vote in manorial elections if they were head of household (voting was by household), the head of the dual abbey of Fontrevrault over both the monks and the nuns was a woman; women could rule entire duchies, baronies, and kingdoms in their own right. Compared to the preceding Roman era, when women did not even have their own names, and the subsequent Enlightenment, when they lost so many of their rights, the medieval period was remarkably liberated. And women did not have to act like men to gain respect!

          • Mila

            Thank you! And also thanks for coming to my defense. It's like 20 against one woman here. I almost broke my keyboard. Well not really but given that English is my third language I take forever to edit.

          • Mike

            You're awesome! keep up the good work; it's a pleasure reading you.

          • Mila

            Thanks that's the first welcome I got on this forum :)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Exceptions do not make the rule.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            What makes you think they were exceptions? You have misrepresented medieval attitudes toward women, probably on no basis other than a devotion to Late Modernism and the belief that all percentages should be equal. The number of women prominent in various areas exploded in the middle ages; for which I will simply refer you to the two books by Regine Pernoud mentioned above.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            More on the basis of a Medieval history class in high school and two in college.

            I don't think the percentages should be equal. I'm not even sure what devotion to late modernism means.

            I do have a devotion to liberal democracy and want to stay as far away as possible from totalitarian and theocratic regimes as possible.

          • stevegbrown

            Hi I thought I would throw my 2 cents in while I remember:
            In one of his books Fulton Sheen quotes Mary Beard's "Women as a force in History" which notes that in 1100's Paris had over 40 guilds that were exclusive to women. Remember that in the Middle Ages, a large amount of skilled work was produced in cottage industries.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Aye, and there were companies of "pen women," who set themselves up as scribes to copy submitted manuscripts. While this may sound like independent typing services, it also indicates that there was no shortage of literate women back then.

          • William Davis

            Lol, I've read enough about France to understand why Rousseau hated civilization, and it had nothing to do with Christianity. If literature is any indication, the French aristocrats were a conniving evil bunch looking to exploit anyone they could. This tends to happen with any concentration of power. "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". The Revolution was a disaster that was in the making for years.
            For the record, blaming Christianity for everything that went wrong in western history never made sense to me. It isn't like non-Christians haven't had plenty of problems.

    • carlericolson

      "fish on Fridays, limbo, and burning to death as a suitable punishment to for heresy?" What a curious list. Quick responses:

      1. Abstaining from meat on Friday was one part of a discipline aimed at spiritual growth through a temporary renunciation of a good, especially on Friday, the day that Christ died on the Cross. It was and is meant to emphasize the temporal nature of this life and the need to trust in God for both physical needs and spiritual strength. Disciplines have never been dogmatic in nature in the Church, and many disciplines and devotions have changes over time, depending on various factors.

      2. Limbo was a theological theory, so to speak, about what happened to unbaptized babies who died. It was never a formal doctrine or dogma of the Church, but a common explanation of what might happen to such children. For more, see this CNS article.

      3. Capital punishment was quite common in most cultures until recent times, and burning at the stake was one of many ways in which states and nations executed various criminals. Heresy was long considered a grave sin by the Church (and still is), and a serious crime against the state, in large part because heresy could and often did undermine the social order. Were such means of punishment sometimes abused by Catholics? Absolutely. Does it mean that all such executions were unjust? No, not at all. Does it mean they should be used now? No, for a number of reasons, including the separation of Church and State.

      "As far as I can tell, your process is the same and we should not look to you at all for guidance on how to govern ourselves"

      Well, there's simply no getting around the inconvenient fact that Western civilization was built upon a Christian foundation, one that drew upon the Greek and Roman cultures, but was uniquely its own. Prior to Christianity, there were no orphanages, hospitals, universities, and other such institutions; those are Christian institutions. Western law has been significantly shaped by Christian thinking, both in its understanding of justice and mercy, not to mention the relationship between the State and other institutions. Etc. etc.

      • David Nickol

        Abstaining from meat on Friday was one part of a discipline aimed at spiritual growth . . . .

        I am quite sure I am remembering correctly a survey taken way, way back in the old days when eating meat on Fridays was strictly prohibited in which a majority of Catholics ranked it as a more serious sin than being unkind to one's neighbor (or some such thing). I think for Catholic of my generation, abstaining from meat on Fridays was in some ways similar to dietary prohibitions observed by Orthodox Jews. You refrained from eating meat because it was "the law," not as part of some program of "spiritual growth." When the restrictions were eased, I remember a devout Catholic co-worker saying in alarm, "We're becoming just like the Protestants!"

        • Mila

          Days of Penance

          Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

          Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

          Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

          Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

          Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

          I don't eat meat on Fridays to offer minimal sacrifice for reparation but I know I can do other kinds of penances as well and try to actually do it.

        • carlericolson

          Fasting is indeed aimed at spiritual growth and conversion, a key part of which is penance:

          The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving,31 which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: efforts at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.” (CCC 1434)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Only, if you didn't do it, you committed a mortal sin.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            A mortal sin requires three things:
            1. The matter itself is gravely wrong.
            2. The actor must know it is gravely wrong.
            3. The actor must intend the grave wrong.

            Eating meat on Friday is not intrinsically a grave wrong. Anyone who ever thought so was simply mistaken.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Tell that to the Roman Catholic Church. I believe David Nickol linked to a part of the canon law that said it was grave matter.
            A few years ago, when I was still Catholic, a priest told me that eating meat on Friday was grave matter.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            That was directly from the catechism, so I don't need to tell the Church anything. If a priest told you that eating meat on Friday was a grave matter, it was more than a few years ago, since it hasn't been a discipline for a long time now. Either he was mistaken -- not every priest or nun is infallible -- or he was talking about willful disobedience to a requirement. That is, deliberately eating meat on a day of abstinence. This is a symbolic act whose meaning goes beyond the fact of eating meat. It's like not standing when a lady enters the room: a premeditated act of disrespect.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I don't see anywhere in the CCC that states that eating meat on Friday is not intrinsically wrong.
            It was about three years ago.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            There's probably not anything in it that says not mounting a plastic Jesus on your dashboard is not intrinsically wrong.

            You are starting to come across as foolish and obsessed. Meatless Fridays is not dogma and never was. It was made clear to me as a child. Where did you grow up?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You were the one that said you pulled it out of the Catechism. So I inquired.

            You are starting to come across as foolish and obsessed. Meatless Fridays is not dogma and never was. It was made clear to me as a child. Where did you grow up?

            Personally I don't care one way or another about meatless Friday. I'm more amused by the practice than anything else.
            It seems like a required practice to me. It was certainly taught as a required practice.

            http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P4O.HTM
            Seems like grave matter to me. Now, if I could only find that pre-modern classic The Baltimore Catechism Vol 3, I'm sure that would clean things up in my favor.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You care enough to harp on it.

            Here:
            http://baltimore-catechism.com/index.htm

            Have at it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I simply wish to point out that the Catholic God is deeply offended/angered by trivial offenses. Some of these trivial offenses can even cast doubt on one's immortal soul.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The technical term for that is horse hockey.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I'm glad we agree on what the church's teaching are, horse hockey.

          • Mike

            dude where do you come up with this stuff?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Catholic K-12, writings of saints, various church documents and books of instruction, most examinations of conscious, etc.

            Drunkenness is a mortal sin. From the Baltimore Catechism:

            Q. 306. Is drunkenness always a mortal sin?

            A. Deliberate drunkenness is always a mortal sin if the person be completely deprived of the use of reason by it, but drunkenness that is not intended or desired may be excused from mortal sin.

            Slight offenses can be mortal sins

            Q. 292. Can slight offenses ever become mortal sins?

            A. Slight offenses can become mortal sins if we commit them through defiant contempt for God or His law; and also when they are followed by very evil consequences, which we foresee in committing them.

            And what does God do to people who offend him, trivially?

            Q. 1376. Why does Christ judge men immediately after death?

            A. Christ judges men immediately after death to reward or punish them according to their deeds.

            And what are the rewards and punishments?

            Q. 1378. What are the rewards or punishments appointed for men's souls after the Particular Judgment?

            A. The rewards or punishments appointed for men's souls after the Particular Judgment are Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.

            And so much for no physical torment in hell:

            Q. 1379. What is Hell?

            A. Hell is a state to which the wicked are condemned, and in which they are deprived of the sight of God for all eternity, and are in dreadful torments.

            Don't forget thought crimes:

            Q. 1318. Are impure thoughts and desires always sins?

            A. Impure thoughts and desires are always sins, unless they displease us and we try to banish them.

            No onto eating meat on Fridays in lent:

            Q. 287. How can we know what sins are considered mortal?

            A. We can know what sins are considered mortal from Holy Scripture; from the teaching of the Church, and from the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

            And what does Canon Law forbid?

            Mike, I take it that you converted to Catholicism as an adult. I think you should probably take a deeper look at the faith that you profess.

          • David Nickol

            I was certainly brought up to consider eating meat on Fridays was a mortal sin. I went to Catholic school in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the 1950s and early 1960s.

            Also, trusted sources of "Strange Notions Catholics" state that eating meat on Fridays during Lent is a mortal sin. For example, Jimmy Akin says the following:

            Thus one must substantially observe the law of abstinence on such days, and the obligation to do so is a grave one, meaning that it satisfies the condition of grave matter required for mortal sin. If one knowingly and deliberately fails in this obligation then one has committed mortal sin.

            Fr. John of EWTN Catholic Q&A says:

            Since the number of days of fast and abstinence are greatly reduced, it would be a mortal sin if someone KNOWINGLY, WILLINGLY and INTENTIONALLY ate meat on a Friday of Lent or on Ash Wednesday or ate between meals or ate more than one full meal on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. Former manuals spoke of 4 oz or more to violate the fast as a mortal sin, less than 4 oz being venial; 2 oz of meat to violate abstinence, less for venial. Today, we do not get into the number game.

            Fr. John A. Hardon, whom Kevin occasionally quotes as an authority says the following, discussing the "new" rules that went into effect for Americans in 1966:

            Friday penance, therefore, is not a matter of mere counsel, but of actual precept. In plain language, a Catholic commits sin if he or she allows a Friday to pass without an act of penance. In Pope Paul’s Constitution on the subject entitled Poenitemini (which is the imperative of the verb “Repent”), after the Holy Father enumerates the days of penance, he states, “The substantial observance of these days binds gravely.” It may be recalled that there were some questions among commentators after the constitution was issued as to how this phrase should be interpreted. Did it refer to the days taken singly, so that on each Friday there was a grave obligation to penance with due allowance for slightness of matter, or did substantial observance mean that the days were to be taken collectively and only then was the obligation binding under mortal sin? The question has been authentically answered by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, that it does not necessarily refer to each day, but that a person would sin seriously who omitted a part of the Friday penitential observance prescribed as a whole, if the part omitted were notable with regard to either quantity or quality and there was no excusing cause.

            In the light of this teaching of the Church, when would a person be guilty of serious sin by not observing Fridays as days of penance? A practical answer is when he or she had failed to observe a notable number of Fridays, without proportionally grave reason. Many Catholics continue to satisfy their precept of Friday penance by regular abstinence from meat. This is highly commendable. But if they prefer to eat meat on Friday, they are bound in conscience to practice some other, corresponding penance instead. The proper observance of Fridays is critically important for the Church. This is where pastors must instruct the people, and confessors should enlighten their penitents to help them form a correct conscience.

            The old (1912) Catholic Encyclopedia seems crystal clear to me:

            Texts of theology and catechisms of Christian doctrine indicate that the obligation of abstaining forms an element in one of the Commandments of the Church. Satisfaction for sin is an item of primary import in the moral order. Naturally enough, abstinence contributes no small share towards the realization of this end. As a consequence, the law of abstinence embodies a serious obligation whose transgression, objectively considered, ordinarily involves a mortal sin. The unanimous verdict of theologians, the constant practice of the faithful, and the mind of the Church place this point beyond cavil. They who would fain minimize the character of this obligation so as to relegate all transgressions, save such as originate in contempt, to the category of venial sin are anathematized by Alexander VII [Cf. Prop. 23, ap. Bucceroni, Enchiridion Morale, 145 (Rome, 1905)]. In fine, the Trullan synod (can. 58, ap. Hefele, "History of the Councils of the Church", V, 231, Edinburgh, 1896) inflicts deposition on clerics and excommunication on laymen who violate this law. Furthermore, theologians claim that a grievous sin is committed as often as flesh meat is consumed in any quantity on abstinence days (Sporer, TheologiaMoralis super Decalogum, I, De observ. jejunii, # 2, assert. II), because the law is negative, and binds semper et pro semper. In other words, the prohibition of the Church in this matter is absolute. At times, however, the quantity of prohibited material may be so small that the law suffers no substantial violation. From an objective standpoint such transgressions carry the guilt of venial sin. Moralists are by no means unanimous in deciding where the material element of such minor disorders passes into a material disorder of major importance. Some think that an ounce of flesh meat suffices to constitute a serious breach of this law, whereas others claim that nothing short of two ounces involves infringement of this obligation. Ordinarily, the actual observance of the law is confined to such circumstances as carry no insupportable burden. This is why the sick, the infirm, mendicants, labourers, and such as find difficulty in procuring fish diet are not bound to observe the law as long as such conditions prevail.

            I think it is quite clear that the "official" position of the Catholic Church was that, under the old rule, it was a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays throughout the year, and it seems clear to me it is considered a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays during Lent.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Certainly, when I was Catholic, it was emphasized to me that if I died with mortal sin on my soul, it was very likely that I was going to go to hell. Therefore, it was very important to confess frequently naming my sins by number and kind. I was also under the impression that most people in fact went to hell.

            Who knows what other treasures they might contain?

            I wish I had the books that were used in my religious instruction. They contained some treasures.

            Edit: Personally I don't mind the long quotes. In many instances, I think they are necessary to the point.

          • Mike

            Are you sure you don't have OCD? you seem to be wrestling more with your own demons than with anything else RCC related.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            They were my demons when I was Catholic, but I left. It is most certainly related to the RCC. Any tendencies towards OCD that I have the Catholic Church only intensified.
            Seriously Mike, you have admitted that you have not read the bible, and I see no reason to assume that you have a good grasp of Catholicism. Why are you arguing for a religion that you do no understand? How many encyclicals have you read? Have you read the CCC? How many saints have you read? You should probably look into the religion more before you raise your kids into it.

          • Mike

            well i know enough about its main points from all those sources and others but what is the point of reading Kings or tobit or whatever as i don't have nearly enough basic understanding of the history culture ideas etc etc. of that time to understand what the stories are meant to illustrate; i like the church; it's attractive to me it's beliefs are beautiful to me; they i think are TRUE (they have a peculiar ability to make sense of so many aspects of reality that it can be kinda weird whereas atheism just seems so trivial to me) and it's just i think the greatest force for goodness on earth and it makes my life better, healthier happier etc. etc.

            but you can NEVER even begin to understand something by studying it like a dissected frog; and by reading all its rules and regs. i mean do you do that before joining a pick up basketball league? no you join and get to know the ppl and see it from the inside you have a bit of trust and a bit of faith and then you learn to trust more and more and you learn more and more etc.

            btw YOS has been a great help i read all his comments as i think that that kind of systematic philosophical tradition was neglected in the church in the liberal areas where i live.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            but what is the point of reading Kings or tobit or whatever as i don't have nearly enough basic understanding of the history culture ideas etc etc. of that time to understand what the stories are meant to illustrate;

            So you don't think coming to an understanding of say, 1 Samuel 15:3 is important before you convert?

            i like the church; it's attractive to me it's beliefs are beautiful to me

            This reeks of relativism. Some of the beliefs are beautiful others are very ugly. This isn't a reason to believe anything.

            they i think are TRUE (they have a peculiar ability to make sense of so many aspects of reality that it can be kinda weird whereas atheism just seems so trivial to me)

            I would say that Catholicism does not comport well with reality. Atheists could give you several reasons. Weren't you an atheist? Did you just discard all your reasons?

            it's just i think the greatest force for goodness on earth

            Evidence?

            but you can NEVER even begin to understand something by studying it like a dissected frog; and by reading all its rules and regs. i mean do you do that before joining a pick up basketball league?

            I don't know - that is how I learned mathematics.

          • Mike

            i was never a 'real' atheist i was just a very typical ne liberal cultural atheist who made fun of religious ppl bc that's what all the 'cool' ppl did - we did alot of that in 2008 with palin.

            i've always known that the most impractical and indeed most unlikely worldview was atheism/naturalism/materialism.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            i've always known that the most impractical and indeed most unlikely worldview was atheism/naturalism/materialism.

            Nope.

          • Mike

            lol ok so how come there are 1.5 billion catholics 1.5 billion muslims and the only atheists anyone has EVER heard of are ALL: white rich men?

            ever google female atheists? try it you'll be surprised.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            There are many female atheists. I'm not sure what this has to do with your claim that atheism/naturalism/materialism is the most unlike and impractical worldview.

            Why are most apologists white men?

          • Mike

            Name 1 famous female atheist.

          • David

            Mother Theresa

          • Joe Ser

            I got one - Jennifer Fulwiler - oops - ex-atheist.

          • Mike

            Leah libresco - oops

            Mary poplin - oops

            Charles drawins great niece i think - oops....all former atheists all catholics!

          • Joe Ser

            One of the main themes is that to be atheist is to be lonely without hope. No purpose and no final justice. It is sad really.

          • Mike

            i think that's self evident but many atheists are offended by that characterization - i can understand why but i think those are just the bare facts if their worldview is correct.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Ayaan Hirsi Ali

          • Mike

            just forgot to add that many atheists seem to admit to emotional "issues" they've had with religion as their main reason for rejecting it - just weird as so many of you folks claim to be 'scientific' but are really very very emotionally based.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I don't know any such atheists. I reject Catholicism because it does not comport with reality.

            You tend to get a little emotional when you realize that the Catholic Church has lied to you since you were born and has lied for 2000 years.

          • Mike

            LOL! lied for 2000 years! dude you have OCD.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Not you Mike - the Church. You asked why atheist get emotional. I gave you a reason. Another reason is the harm that the Church causes. Still another is the great lengths apologists go to obfuscate and obscure.

            Nice personal attack.

          • Mike

            Ok, take care.

          • Joe Ser

            I find all of Jesus' teachings compelling.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I notice that you no longer dispute my claim that eating meat on Friday is in fact a mortal sin. Instead you question my personality.

          • Mike

            if you want to believe that you are going to go to hell if you eat meat on friday go ahead but start praying bc you in trouble!!! ;)

          • David Nickol

            if you want to believe that you are going to go to hell if you eat meat on friday

            It is not a matter of what Ignatius Reilly or I want to believe, but rather a matter of what the Church teaches. I wrote a lengthy message recently citing three sources that should be acceptable to "conservative" Catholics: Fr. John of EWTN Catholic Q&A, Fr. John A. Hardon, and the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia. The issue is complicated slightly because the requirement changed in 1966 regarding Friday abstinence outside of Lent. But here is, I think, a fair summary:

            Prior to 1966, it was considered a serious (mortal) sin for a Catholic to eat meat on a Friday. Currently, the rule mandates either abstaining from meat on Fridays or substituting some other penitential practice. Under the new rule, it is not automatically a mortal sin to eat meat on a Friday or do some kind of substitute penance. However, if one ignores the practice a substantial amount of the time, then it becomes a serious (mortal) sin. It also seems clear to me that under the new rule, abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent is as serious a matter as it was to abstain from eating meat on Fridays throughout the year prior to 1966. So eating meat once on a Friday during Lent is a serious (mortal) sin.

            Of course, it is not "intrinsically evil" to eat meat on a Friday. The sin is breaking a "Commandment of the Church." And of course the requirements for mortal sin must be met (serious matter, known to be a serious matter, full consent).

            It seems that you and Ye Olde Statistician don't want to accept what plainly has been taught by the Catholic Church, apparently because Ignatius Reilly considers it overly harsh for the Catholic Church to make eating meat on a particular day an offense worthy of eternal punishment, you are trying to evade acknowledging a clear teaching of the Church. If there is anything you don't understand or you disagree with in the three sources I cited in my previous message, please let me know. Otherwise, the burden is on you to now prove it was not a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays prior to 1966 and is not a mortal sin to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. Otherwise I think you are obfuscating teachings of the Catholic Church.

          • David Nickol

            Addendum: I think there are a great many Catholics in good standing who consider the notions of venial and mortal sin for specific acts, especially "rule-breaking" acts like Friday abstinence, to be rather old fashioned, and would rather look at the overall orientation of the individual toward God. But those people generally aren't "conservative" Catholics or what I call "Strange Notions Catholics." It would be interesting to know exactly where Fr. Robert Barron would come down on this matter, since he does not strike me as an "old fashioned" pre-Vatican II Catholic.

          • Mike

            You so desperately want to find something irrationally evil about the church don't you? it would justify so many incorrect conclusions of yours wouldn't it?

          • David Nickol

            What I would like to do is establish what the Church teaches about the matter of Friday abstinence throughout the year, Friday abstinence during Lent, and additionally what the Church taught prior to 1966. Surely in a forum devoted to Catholic apologetics, determining what the actual teachings of the Church are is of the first importance. Then if there is to be a debate over whether those teachings are overly harsh or in some other way objectionable, the discussion can be based on facts.

            I am having trouble understanding why you seem to resist that path. You are evading Ignatius Reilly and me on these matters. Is it that you don't know what the Catholic Church teaches, or that you don't want to acknowledge it? I just don't get it. When pressed on the actual facts of the matter, you answer with ad hominem comments: "Are you sure you don't have OCD?" "You so desperately want to find something irrationally evil about the church don't you?"

            Why don't you man up, stop the evasive tactics, and address the issue of what the Church teaches?

          • Mike

            check out the catechism it's all there - btw if YOU want to believe you're going to hell for eating meat on purpose feel free to do it.

          • David Nickol

            check out the catechism it's all there - btw if YOU want to believe you're going to hell for eating meat on purpose feel free to do it.

            According to the Catechism:

            II. THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH

            2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

            2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.

            The second precept ("You shall confess your sins at least once a year") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.

            The third precept ("You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.

            2043 The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.

            The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.

            The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities.

            Which of the five precepts does not impose a serious obligation? I guess you are saying it is the fourth precept.

          • Mike

            i am really not sure what your point is here. i am not a canon lawyer or a theologian or a church historian etc etc. i don't believe because the church as met some "standard" of doctrinal purity or continuity or meets some "requirement" to balance this with that or whatever; i believe bc i think it's the best thing going in terms of the truth about existence.

            you seem to have this image in your head that you can't be an honest and good catholic unless you review analyze confirm reason out every single bit of doctrine dogma tradition and on and on but these things too CENTURIES to work out!

            if you think that you've found that one thing that will bring the entire catholic facade down; the one jega piece that no one not any of the most famous catholic theologians or philosophers in the literally hundreds of catholic departments of theology and philosophy around the world from this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanzan_University to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newman_Institute_(Uppsala) has heard of or realized is as critical to the entire thing as you have then either you're the most brilliant theologian since martin luther or you're just projecting your own biases and coming up with things that are really not there at all.

            i don't even know if the church has ever definitively said that abortionists are damned yet you seem so sure it is positive that meat eaters of friday are going to hell or were before 1966!

          • David Nickol

            i am really not sure what your point is here.

            And I am not really sure what is going on in your mind. It would seem rather a simple question whether violating a "precept of the Church" would be a sin, and if so, whether it would be a mortal or a venial sin. For all Catholics who are not exempted for some reason from the Church's rules on fasting and abstinence, it would seem to me they ought to know just how binding those rules are. You seem either unsure, or unwilling to acknowledge how serious violating a "precept of the Church" is. Everything I have consulted indicates it is serious.

            i don't even know if the church has ever definitively said that abortionists are damned yet you seem so sure it is positive that meat eaters of friday are going to hell or were before 1966!

            Let's be clear here. The Church doesn't say (or claim to say) who is damned or not. That is up to God—or according to some people here, up to the damned themselves, with God helpless to save people who don't want saving! The Church can declare eating meat on a day of abstinence a mortal sin, but that in no way tells us whether anyone has ever gone to hell for eating meat on a day of abstinence. However people wind up in hell (if they do) it is not because the Church sends them there. The Church has no authority to send anyone to hell. The Church claims no knowledge of any particular person going to hell.

            You seem to be very much afraid that it would be taken as some kind of blot on Catholicism if eating meat on a day of abstinence were considered a mortal sin. You have spent virtually no time or effort explaining why it might be plausible that violating a "precept of the Church" could be a mortal sin, or that God could send to hell a person in the state of mortal sin as a result of violating a "precept of the Church" might be sent to hell. It really should not be difficult for a Catholic to make the case for such a thing happening.

            According to the Catechism's discussion of the "precepts of the Church" which I quoted earlier:

            The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.

            Suppose you wish to belong to the Church or to any organization that has minimum requirements for membership. What kind of a person deserves to claim membership if he or she is not even willing to meet the minimum requirements? What kind of commitment is that? When I was a practicing Catholic in the pre-1966 Church, I had no trouble abstaining from meat on Fridays. It was really quite easy to do. Over the many years, for reasons that I am not sure I could claim were religious, I have a number of times abstained from eating meat entirely during Lent. It is a small sacrifice (except perhaps in restaurants when a nice steak or burger is the most attractive choice on the menu). So I would say, if you can't abstain from meat every Friday, let alone the Fridays in Lent, you must not be serious about your commitment to live by the rules of the Church.

            Setting aside for the moment that I find it exceeding difficult to believe that God would eternally punish anyone for anything, given the three conditions for mortal sin (serious wrong, known to be seriously wrong, done with full consent), it seems to me possible to give great offense on what is a seemingly small matter. Suppose in a marriage two partners agree to a set of rules for the marriage that may seem trivial to outsiders. Then suppose one of the partners deliberately breaks to rules, with no good reason, and willfully. It is as if one partner says, "I'll show you what I think of our agreement. I will break it not because I am tempted to do so, but I'll break it just to show you I think it is of no importance to me, and I don't care about your wishes." I think it is quite clear that that would be a serious offense against the marriage agreement, serious enough if the partner persists to bring an end to the marriage altogether.

            A seeming small offense, done out of spite or contempt, is not a small offense at all. The eating of meat on a day of mandated abstinence if done out of absolute indifference to God or out of contempt, could indeed be a mortal sin.

          • Mike

            Ok yes the church used to say that deliberate disobedience etc. of the discipline was a mortal sin; i wasn't alive back then but it had NOTHING to do with meat; as YOS said meat is not harram or not kosher or whatever. that the church felt that it was a good way of trying to bring ppl to appreciate the goods that come from abstaining from certain things was maybe a good idea and by deliberately rejecting that the church obviously said well that's serious and you're putting your soul in jeopardy.

            but you seem to have this idea that if i don't ascent to this point that i am not somehow really catholic. this is why i point to say nancy pelosi still being a valid catholic even though we know what she promotes. you seem to want to put this image forward of a craven church that is petty and to scandalize but as you point out the church's views are very very broad without it being a push over.

            anyway it just seemed to me like you were insinuating that this particular issue was somehow critical to the church's entire facade.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            A seeming small offense, done out of spite or contempt, is not a small
            offense at all. The eating of meat on a day of mandated abstinence if
            done out of absolute indifference to God or out of contempt, could
            indeed be a mortal sin.

            If you just eat meat, because you would rather have a burger than obey God's law, you commit a mortal sin by church teaching.

            The intention does not have to be spite.

          • David Nickol

            If you just eat meat, because you would rather have a burger than obey God's law, you commit a mortal sin by church teaching.

            Here in part is what I think would be the "orthodox" Catholic response. First, and obviously, Friday abstinence is binding only on Catholics.

            Second, the Church can say that objectively it is a mortal sin to violate the Friday abstinence rule, but the Church does not say that any particular individual subjectively has committed a mortal sin. One could walk up to a priest on a Friday in Lent and say, "Watch me, Father. I am a Catholic and I'm eating a Big Mac," and the priest could not legitimately say, "You have committed a mortal sin." Because only God knows what is in the person's heart.

            Third, as has been explained here, to commit a mortal sin, the offense the person commits must be seriously wrong, the person must know that the offense he or she is committing is seriously wrong, and he or she must give full consent to the act. I think it could be argued that giving full consent to such an act, under the circumstances, might be very difficult. Do human beings give full consent to much of anything? Suppose my hypothetical Big Mac eater above goes into therapy, and it is discovered that underlying his actions in front of the priest are actually unresolved issues involving his tyrannical father. Unconsciously he was rebelling against the authority of the Church because of psychological issues from his childhood. Perhaps it takes years of therapy to get at that. Can we really say he gave full consent to his defiant act when he was motivated by forces he was unaware of? Do you suppose that God doesn't understand that acts seemingly aimed at himself may be explicable at least in part by other causes?

            Fourth, how hard is it to abstain from eating meat on Fridays? If it is an actual hardship, the rules do not apply. My mother was always painfully thin, and priests told he not only not to fast during Lent, but to try to eat more. There is simply no reason to violate abstinence rules, and if there is a reason, the rules do not apply. So as a Catholic, knowing that the "precepts" of the Church are the minimum requirements of being a member in good standing of the Church, what could possibly motivate a knowledgeable, clear-thinking Catholic to violate an abstinence rule?

            The intention does not have to be spite.

            What would the intention be for a person who was a believing Catholic, who knew it was seriously wrong and yet committed the act giving full consent to it? Can you explain why anybody would do such a thing?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Here in part is what I think would be the "orthodox" Catholic response. First, and obviously, Friday abstinence is binding only on Catholics.

            I think it may be the orthodox response when they are arguing with skeptics, but not when they are educating believers.

            Second, the Church can say that objectively it is a mortal sin to violate the Friday abstinence rule, but the Church does not say that any particular individual subjectively has committed a mortal sin. One could walk up to a priest on a Friday in Lent and say, "Watch me, Father. I am a Catholic and I'm eating a Big Mac," and the priest could not legitimately say, "You have committed a mortal sin." Because only God knows what is in the person's heart.

            The priest could also not legitimately say that "you have not committed a mortal sin". I think if our person went to confession and told a priest that "I ate big mac last Friday, because I had a taste for one, is that a mortal sin?" the priest would probably say "that was probably a mortal sin, but don't worry about it because it is confessed now". Sure, we cannot say with certainty when person X commits a mortal sin, but the Church is quite clear on the likelihood of these things being mortal.

            The Church does say that it is grave matter.

            I think it could be argued that giving full consent to such an act, under the circumstances, might be very difficult.

            This is not the impression one gains from reading the "Orthodox" view. We may argue that full consent is difficult, but I do not think "Orthodox" Catholics would.

            Suppose my hypothetical Big Mac eater above goes into therapy, and it is discovered that underlying his actions in front of the priest are actually unresolved issues involving his tyrannical father. Unconsciously he was rebelling against the authority of the Church because of psychological issues from his childhood. Perhaps it takes years of therapy to get at that. Can we really say he gave full consent to his defiant act when he was motivated by forces he was unaware of? Do you suppose that God doesn't understand that acts seemingly aimed at himself may be explicable at least in part by other causes?

            But we are talking about a Big Mac eater who eats a Big Mac because he wants to, without a bunch of circumstances. This Big Mac eater has knowledge and consent. He eats a Big Mac, because he would rather eat a burger than follow the fast. Is that a mortal sin?

            I don't think an all-Good God would damn anyone, but Catholics think otherwise. Many "orthodox" Catholics think that most souls go to hell.

            Fourth, how hard is it to abstain from eating meat on Fridays? If it is an actual hardship, the rules do not apply. My mother was always painfully thin, and priests told he not only not to fast during Lent, but to try to eat more. There is simply no reason to violate abstinence rules, and if there is a reason, the rules do not apply. So as a Catholic, knowing that the "precepts" of the Church are the minimum requirements of being a member in good standing of the Church, what could possibly motivate a knowledgeable, clear-thinking Catholic to violate an abstinence rule?

            Sure, someone could gain a dispensation from the fast.

            Maybe our clear-thinking Catholic just really wanted a Big Mac. It is like any other sin.

            The point isn't the fact that it is relatively easy to do. The point is that the Catholic Church considers it to be grave matter. And if done with reflection and consent, worthy of hell. Actually, the Catholic Church thinks we are worthy of hell regardless, but that is another matter.

            What would the intention be for a person who was a believing Catholic, who knew it was seriously wrong and yet committed the act giving full consent to it? Can you explain why anybody would do such a thing?

            Because they wanted a Big Mac more than they wanted to obey God's law. It is not out of spite - it is out of preference.

            Aside: Any act no matter how small, can be a mortal sin, if done out of pure rebellion against God.

          • William Davis

            Why don't you man up, stop the evasive tactics, and address the issue of what the Church teaches?

            Exactly.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It is what the Catholic Church teaches. David and I have both explained it to you and cited church documents. Do you care to dispute it?

            Please learn the faith you are defending and raising your kids into.

          • Mike

            you are lying about the church bc i know that you are too smart to not know...btw stop worrying you'll never meet God when you die you will never have to face him.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Mike, if you think we are lying about the Church, then please cite the documents that show that we are wrong.

          • William Davis

            Wow how old are you? You don't have to answer. I do try to open doors for ladies, but if you stand when they enter the room now, they look at you like you are crazy ;)

          • Mila

            I don't. In fact, my father, my uncles, my brothers (6) all stand up when my mother or I come in the room. It is natural to them and I'm so used to it that I notice when men don't stand up.
            It might be a rarity in the US, but not in many other cultures.

          • William Davis

            Some cultural artifacts like this are worth keeping IMHO :)

          • Mila

            Absolutely! I will tell you that if I notice an American do it, I give him lots of credit for it. Even more than I do in my country. I just know that they are not the norm here.
            Also, don't think all women will look at the men who stand up as crazy. There are some women who appreciate it. And I believe it is always smart for a man to act cordial. They will be amazed as to the results. The woman automatically will admire and appreciate the man a lot more. :)
            There is a saying, if men want women to be more feminine then treat them as women and the same applies to women.
            If a single man wants to find the perfect woman then he should treat all women perfectly and the one who is perfect for him will respond to that.

          • Michael Murray

            As a matter or practicality how would you implement such a thing? In a train, bus or plane boarding situation should all the men already in their seats stand up each time a women steps on board? Should we stand up each time a hostess walks past? I'm typing this in a coffee shop. Should I stand up each time a women comes in the door?

            As an avid fan of Jane Austen I can't help noticing that in her time women paid a heavy price for these courtesies. It was a gilded cage but still a cage.

            Why not just hold doors open for anyone coming after you who is near enough to not feel pressured to run by your waiting for them ?

          • William Davis

            I'd only apply it in a formal setting, and I'm not in many of those anymore. I "growed" up in the South so some of the old chivalry is still around. I don't see how it's a big deal either way. It isn't like I think everyone should do this, lol.
            I felt like being nice to Mila, yesterday I went full attack mode on her for supporting sexism in the priesthood. She said it was ok because women could have babies...I didn't take too kindly to that, and probably went overboard. I try to mend fences where it's appropriate :)

          • Michael Murray

            I realised after posting that my own question also applied to Jane Austen's times at public events such as going to the theatre. So presumably the standing rule was restricted primarily to private occasions. Any British social historians amongst us ?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Surely. Even women have been conditioned to devalue women.

          • David Nickol

            How old are both of you? The women I know don't like being called "ladies."

            Small, practical courtesies are still appreciated by the women I know, but I find it hard to imagine a situation in which standing when a woman walked into the room wouldn't be seen as odd. I can remember a few instances in which misguided men took great pains to allow all the women on a very crowded elevator to exit first. If you are a man standing at the very front of a crowded elevator, you should step out immediately even if Queen Elizabeth is at the back of the elevator!

          • William Davis

            Just turned 34 myself. I tried the standing thing when I was a teenager a few times (after reading some old stories about chivalry), it didn't work out for me, lol. Holding doors still works though :) In the end, there is no substitute for a friendly smile, a solid look in the eye, and a friendly greeting. The return smile is always worth it.

          • David Nickol

            Fasting is indeed aimed at spiritual growth and conversion, a key part of which is penance

            I am not commenting on what lay behind the command to abstain from meat on Fridays prior to 1966. I am talking about the way I and a great many fellow Catholics at the time perceived it (or, if you will misperceived it). As I said, it was largely seen even by devout and well educated Catholics to be a sin (and probably a mortal sin) not to eat meat on Friday simply because the Church said so. In the example I gave of the co-worker who said that with the relaxing of the rule, Catholics were becoming "just like the Protestants," I was trying to show that Friday abstinence was regarded as a "Catholic thing" that Catholics did because they were Catholic, not because there was any rationale behind them that facilitated spiritual growth.

            It seems to me that the American Bishops, in requiring some kind of penance or self-denial on Fridays, but making abstinence from eating meat only one option, helped make clear the reasoning behind the practice to the untold millions of Catholics who abstained from eating meat on Fridays as a matter of blind obedience.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I priest told me it was a grave sin to not abstain during lent. I know that is slightly different, but the misperception is still out there.

          • David Nickol

            Actually, Catholics in the United States are still required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. The prohibition has the same weight and degree of seriousness as the old prohibition (prior to 1966) against eating meat on any Friday throughout the year.

            It is difficult for me to imagine that God would send otherwise virtuous people to hell for eating meat on Fridays, even during Lent. If he did, imagine damned souls in hell asking each other why they are there.

            "I was a serial killer."
            "I ran a concentration camp that exterminated thousands of Jews."
            "I swindled old people out of their life savings."
            "I was a child molester."
            "I ate meat on Fridays."

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Eating meat on Friday was not a grave sin. I was a kid, and I knew that. What was a sin was willful disobedience. So if it was a day of abstinence, and you knew it, and you deliberately ate meat, then that was a sin. If you ate a hot dog by accident, forgetting what day it was, there was no sin, because you cannot sin by accident. And even so, if you were at someone's house and they served meat, and it was either eat it or insult your hostess, then it was not a sin, either. Meat is not haram or anything. The matter goes to the intentions. In fact, I believe it actually was the widespread misunderstanding of the nature of abstinence that led to the relaxation of the discipline. If you weren't doing it for the right reason, why do it? The message was: "Hey, yo! You're treating meatless Fridays like a superstition, not a pious exercise. Cut that out."

          • William Davis

            Fasting is also good for you :)

      • David Nickol

        Limbo was a theological theory . . .

        Travel back in a time machine to the 1950s and tell that to the nuns who taught at my grade school!

        • David Nickol

          A grade school where, I should add in all fairness, I got an excellent elementary school education that would today cost probably $20,000 or so per year, but back then was for all intents and purposes free, thanks in large part to the nuns who sacrificed their whole lives and received no monetary rewards.

          • carlericolson

            Fabulous. But my remark was not an attack of nuns, but a clarification of what the Church has officially taught or not taught about the issue at hand.

        • carlericolson

          Okay, fire up the time machine, and I'll take them a copy of the Int'l Theological Commission's 2007 statement on the matter, which states, at the start:

          It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium, even if that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis. However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261), and therefore also to the theological desire to find a coherent and logical connection between the diverse affirmations of the Catholic faith: the universal salvific will of God; the unicity of the mediation of Christ; the necessity of baptism for salvation; the universal action of grace in relation to the sacraments; the link between original sin and the deprivation of the beatific vision; the creation of man “in Christ”. (emphasis added)

          And so forth.

      • cminca

        "Prior to Christianity, there were no orphanages, hospitals, universities, and other such institutions; those are Christian institutions."

        There is a real problem when you make sweeping generalizations--they are usually false.

        Orphanages:

        "Athenian law supported all orphans of those killed in military service until the age of eighteen. Plato (Laws, 927) says: "Orphans should be placed under the care of public guardians."

        Hospitals:

        "Asclepeia provided carefully controlled spaces conducive to healing and fulfilled several of the requirements of institutions created for healing.[3] In the Asclepieion of Epidaurus, three large marble boards dated to 350 BC preserve the names, case histories, complaints, and cures of about 70 patients who came to the temple with a problem and shed it there. Some of the surgical cures listed, such as the opening of an abdominal abscess or the removal of traumatic foreign material, are realistic enough to have taken place, but with the patient in a dream-like state of induced sleep known as "enkoimesis" (Greek: ἐγκοίμησις) not unlike anesthesia, induced .with the help of soporific substances such as opium.[4]

        Universities:

        The Platonic Academy (sometimes referred to as the University of Athens),[3][4] founded ca. 387 BC in Athens, Greece, by the philosopher Plato, lasted 916 years (until AD 529) with interruptions.[5] It was emulated during the Renaissance by the Florentine Platonic Academy, whose members saw themselves as following Plato's tradition.

        Around 335 BC, Plato's successor Aristotle founded the Peripatetic school, the students of which met at the Lyceum gymnasium in Athens. The school ceased in 86 BC during the famine, siege and sacking of Athens by Sulla.[6]

        During the Hellenistic period, the Museion in Alexandria (which included the Library of Alexandria) became the leading research institute for science and technology from which many Greek innovations sprang. The engineer Ctesibius (fl. 285–222 BC) may have been its first head. It was suppressed and burned between AD 216 and 272, and the library was destroyed between 272 and 391.

        The reputation of these Greek institutions was such that three modern words derive from them: the academy, the lyceum and the museum"

        All from Wikipedia.

      • George

        "heresy could and often did undermine the social order"

        and that is the point where an organization should not turn the other cheek. for a greater good, a small evil must take place right? the ends can justify the means, as the good catechism says. (sarcasm. I know it says the opposite)

        we don't single out the RCC and ignore other cultures/governments disagreeable behaviors and ideologies in the past. but I ask: should we hold the RCC to the same standard as all the others? should we use the same excuses like "well it was just a product of its time" or "they didn't know any better, nobody else did".

        I freely admit, if past cultures had not been brutal in cracking down on dissent to preserve themselves, history would be different and I wouldn't be here. but I'm not bound to profess that anyone or any group was Timeless, Unchanging, or Objectively Moral. I don't have to say group X is exactly the same as it was 2,000 years ago.

        "Does it mean that all such executions were unjust? No, not at all."

        Giordano Bruno. Unjust or just?

        "Does it mean they should be used now? No, for a number of reasons, including the separation of Church and State."

        "a number of reasons" is tantalizing but uninformative. I think we should spend some time on that subject here at SN. and what is your idea of Church-state separation? the way I hear catholics on the radio talk about it, CSS seems to mean a completely one-sided relationship.

      • William Davis

        Limbo was a theological theory

        All theology is pure theory and completely unable to be proven.

      • William Davis

        No, for a number of reasons, including the separation of Church and State.

        As far as we can tell, Baruch Spinoza was the first secularist. I agree with this brilliant Jew on so many things, including his monist God. More and more, Christianity seems to be embracing his views, including replacing "providence" with deterministic causation.

        • A secular approach makes for a great strategy regarding governmental polity. It accommodates a wonderful plurality of worldviews and religious approaches. Thus we can complement a nonestablishment polity with a free exercise approach, fostering these diverse approaches, allowing them to flourish socially and culturally, enhancing their voices and influences in the public square. That's what we did in the USA. At one point, post-Enlightenment, on the Continent, however, a secularism often sought to drive religion --- not only out of governmental roles, but --- completely out of society and culture. Thankfully, most have signed on to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which better tracks the free exercise impetus!

          • William Davis

            Yeah, driving out the religion is NOT the answer. A man's conscience is his own domain, and how he arrives at his morals is up to him. Personally I don't see how getting RID of religion will help anything, making religion BETTER will help a lot.
            I personally think that the RCC should have the right to refuse adoptions to gay people, and should have the right to refuse to provide birth control. I say this because I disagree with both of these views, but forcing the RCC to do something seems a breach of its rights as an institution. Adoption and birth control are NOT fundamental human rights. That said, I don't think it is right for the RCC to legislate that gay people can't adopt from state orphanages. I'm a bit of a libertarian, and fair is fair.
            The main thing I have problem with is dogma, and I've always like this quote:
            “On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.” - Thomas Jefferson

            This quote applies to New Atheists as much as anyone else, but of course New Atheists didn't exist in Jefferson's day. At this point, I think this is a quote most of us can agree with :)

          • The courts have at least implicitly recognized a distinction between faith and morals when it comes to matters of conscience. Rightly, so. To the extent one's beliefs affect only one's manner of relating to putative ultimate realities, whether theological, atheological or nontheological, let's call them creedal (Credo or "I believe") realities, seldom have the courts interfered. To the extent one's beliefs affect one's manner of relating to other people, the courts can have defensible reasons to interfere, allowing prescriptive and proscriptive laws to stand as long as they are generally applicable and advance a compelling public interest. Federal statutes actually strengthen religious prerogatives, beyond the constitutional provisions, requiring the government to accomplish its aims in the least burdensome way possible whenever it does have to curtail conscience prerogatives. The states aren't bound by the federal statute, only the constitution, of course. I offer several examples here:
            http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/are-you-more-disgusted-by-the-cu.html

            The Affordable Care Act followed Health Resources and Services Administration guidelines, which in turn relied on the recommendations of the independent Institute of Medicine, which concluded that birth control is medically necessary to ensure women's health and well-being. Since it's generally applicable and
            a compelling medical interest, the mandate can be sustained per the constitution and prior jurisprudence. The last hurdle is accommodating religious institutions by implementing the mandate in the least onerous way possible. That's what's winding its way through the system presently.

      • Perhaps a odd footnote now I did recently hear about people being harassed for eating meat n Fridays. Can't recall where. Are you saying it was always just an idea? Never strictly enforced?

        The church was simply wrong about limbo and has changed its mind.

        I know killing has been popular and by brutal means such as burning. I disagree that any executions by this manner was ever morally justifiable. Even if it undermines social order. I don't think the people lighting the fire under heretics were worried about the social order, they did it because they believed it was what god wanted and they believed the person was evil and it was the rights thing to to. The Romans who did persecute Christians were definitely worried about the social order, it does nothing to justify the conduct. Both were wrong.

        I'm not talking about the foundations of civilization. I'm criticising the process the Catholic Church uses to reach conclusions about whether people should ever wear condoms for instance. It is an interpretation of scripture, tradition and intuition that has no reality check and is cripples by centuries of developing dogma that it desperately tries to mesh with current secular sensibilities of morality and justice.

    • One needs to distinguish between matters of faith and morals. In matters of faith, further distinctions apply, such as between essential dogma and church disciplines. In matters of morals, it's helpful to distinguish between social justice issues and the sex and gender issues. Also, in matters of morals, unlike matters of faith, those realities are transparent to human reason without the benefit of divine revelation. Hence, your polemic invited and received quite the smorgasbord of responses, most with which I'm in agreement.

      In my view, the reason the church's social justice teachings are so highly regarded in so many ways by so many people is because it complements its natural law approach with a robust relationality-responsibility, personalist model. Natural law, alone, is too biologistic, physicalistic, a prioristic, essentialistic, legalistic, syllogistic in a sylly way, and a host of other methodological pejoratives, although not wholly without insight, so needs the personalist perspective to better capture the unfathomable depth dimensions of human value-realizations. This seriously impoverished anthropology represents a final frontier for the hierarchical magisterium and a cohort of traditionalists, who will some day better articulate the sensus fidelium, the sense of the faithful, as already practiced by so very many of their lay coreligionists and so very many theologians.

      • If faith and morals are dimstinct can there be a conflict between them?

        In terms of social justice, I don't think we need to consider things like dogma and church disciplines. We should consider substantive equality which is very personalized and employs concepts of natural justice

        • That's right.

          Gospel imperatives like charity and mercy exceed the demands of justice and, as such, are distinctly different means ordered to distinctly different ends. Now, while it so happens that the means of charity and mercy are suitable to the ends of justice, they, by nature, would not lend themselves to coercive, e.g. political, strategies.

          Fostering the common good and maintaining a modicum of public order requires coercive strategies. If charity and mercy were full well playing out through our social, religious and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), what need would we have for coercive government? Mandated charity is an oxymoron. So-called entitlement programs are, then, nothing of that sort; instead, they are about maintaining the common good with a modicum of public order, in other words, literally, social security.

          Some seem to imagine 72 virgins await them in paradise. That's their business. Some imagine they can fly airliners into skyscrapers. We have the right and responsibility to interdict those persons and proscribe such behaviors.

          • Well I would say that an act undertaken pursuant to a "gospel imperative" also deprives it of any altruistic character.

            In any event, the issue here seems to be whether or not substantive equality requires all adoption agencies, irrespective of their religious beliefs, to not deprive people of their services on the basis of sexual orientation. I think it does. I think it directly discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and there is no justification to allow it.

          • Imperative in the sense of being important not obligatory, but, more aptly, a Gospel invitation. I'm glad there's no apparent quibble with altruism or free will.

            The issue at hand remains a moral issue, indeed, requiring moral reasoning. I see no justification either.

  • Gray

    How self serving is that of the author of the piece?

    I could find nothing of what Olson said regards quotes....in Grayling's article from the Guardian.

    Christianity thrives
    on ignorance, oppression, and the suppression of knowledge.

    That is purely a personal impression by Olson of Grayling....and may not be completely without merit....but why put words that people did not say in people's mouths if one wants to be seen as credible?
    If as Olson says....Grayling said Christianity thrives on ignorance, oppression, and the suppression of knowledge. Then let him post the link to what Graying actually said......instead of posting his impression or interpretation of what he imagines the man to have actually said?

    • carlericolson

      Grayling, in his 2007 piece, wrote: "By the accident of its
      being the myth chosen by Constantine for his purposes, it plunged
      Europe into the dark ages for the next thousand years - scarcely any
      literature or philosophy, and the forgetting of the arts and crafts of
      classical civilisation (quite literally a return to daub and wattle
      because the engineering required for towers and domes was lost), before
      a struggle to escape the church's narrow ignorance and oppression saw
      the rebirth of classical learning, and its ethos of inquiry and
      autonomy, in the Renaissance."

      Is my summary of his remarks incorrect? Is my use of "ignorance" and "oppression" somehow a misrepresentation of Grayling's use of the same words?

      For more of his comments, see the opening of my original post.

      • Gray

        I was speaking to what the author of the article quoted him to have said in the article that he was referring to....nothing else. It seems to me that it was convenient for you Olsen to put words in Graylings mouth and conrtibuting them to the article referred to. Wafflee around all you want, I don't care....I see what is obvious. a weasel is a ferret.

        • carlericolson

          Perhaps the English language, basic argumentation, and fundamental logic are beyond you. It's quite common to summarize what someone has written or said by writing, "Mr. Smith said that....." Then the question is simply one of fairness and accuracy. Was I fair and accurate in my summation (having already given the longer quote saying the same damn thing!)? Yes, I was. I gladly leave you to your lousy grammar and your smelly weasels.

          • Gray

            Weasels always stink!Even worse that fish or shite.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Consider that quotation marks are used to indicate the actual words of the person being cited. We learned that in grade school English.

          • Gray

            Please leave me to my insulting grammar....as it if obvious that you have not understood a word I said from the beginning.

      • Gray

        I don't care what Graying said in other things...your premise of what you said was based on what he said in a particular article "the persistence of the faithfull." So go stuff yourself please.

        • carlericolson

          Uh, that's the article I was responding to. Not sure what you are upset about, but apparently it's because I responded to the article I said I was responding and I did so while accurately quoting and summarizing what Grayling said. Huh.

          • Gray

            I was irritated by the fact that you quoted him inaccurately....not that by the fact that you interpreted what you think he is purported to have said.

          • carlericolson

            No I didn't. Good Lord, what are you reading? Or smoking?

          • carlericolson

            I quoted him at length, then wrote: "...it is readily apparent where he is coming from and what he thinks of
            Christianity: it is an intolerant and despondent mythology that thrives
            on ignorance, oppression, and the suppression of knowledge."

            So: I never quoted him inaccurately. Never. Period.

          • Gray

            Then you should have linked to what he actually said dumkoff.

          • carlericolson

            I quoted him. Accurately. I linked to his article (a link that was later changed, and then updated). Not sure why you are so intent on proving that you haven't read my piece correctly or accurately presented what I quoted and said.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You misspelled Dumbkopf.

          • As for me, I prefer to be called dummkopf.

  • David Nickol

    . . . .observed that prior to the end of the eighteenth century "nowhere at any time had there ever been any doubt about the historical existence of Christ." The point here is not to launch an extended apologetic discussion on this topic, but to point out that Grayling's position is, ironically enough, antiquated and out of step with the best scholarship.

    I don't really want to defend Grayling, but I do want to make a very narrow point. I think there are a lot of issues on which the Catholic Church itself could be accused of being "antiquated and out of step with the best scholarship." (Take, for example, the recent article in the New York Times by Gary Gutting, professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, entitled Unraveling the Church Ban on Gay Sex.)

    While I have little doubt that there was a "historical Jesus," it does seem to me that it is only recently that serious doubts have arisen about the "historical Abraham" or the "historical Moses." I have called attention to the following previously:

    “Virtually all of the stories in the Torah are ahistorical,” declares a manifesto posted in July on TheTorah.com. “Given the data to which modern historians have access,” the essay explains, “it is impossible to regard the accounts of mass Exodus from Egypt, the wilderness experience or the coordinated, swift, and complete conquest of the entire land of Canaan under Joshua as historical.” Not only did the events in the Garden of Eden and the Flood of Noah never transpire, readers are informed, but “Abraham and Sarah are folkloristic characters; factually speaking, they are not my ancestors or anyone else’s.”

    I would actually probably agree that Grayling is relying on relatively recent, but now "antiquated," scholarship in saying things like Christianity is "an amalgam of dying and resurrecting god myths," but something bothers me—something that I am having a problem putting my finger on—about saying, "Grayling's position is, ironically enough, antiquated and out of step with the best scholarship." As I said, there are Catholic positions that might be criticized using much the same language, and I don't think Catholics would accept the criticism. It is not a matter of things being antiquated or out of step with the best scholarship. It is a matter of being correct or not.

    I have read something from most of the biblical scholars mentioned—"Jean Danielou, N.T. Wright, Richard Bauckham, Raymond Brown, Luke Timothy Johnson, John Fitzmyer, Bruce Metzger, John P. Meier, Larry W. Hurtado"—and their writings are sometimes not just controversial as far as "Strange Notions Catholics" are concerned, but sometimes contain real bombshells!

    • carlericolson

      "It is not a matter of things being antiquated or out of step with the best scholarship. It is a matter of being correct or not." My use of those words was a play on Grayling's accusations, showing that it's ironic that he's guilty of the very things he puts on the Catholic Church and Catholics. I certainly agree that the key issue is truth, and I take that the "best scholarship" also seeks the truth, whereas wing-nut assertions that any story with a dying god is a slam dunk argument against Christianity is both sloppy and disingenuous. Grayling's arguments on these counts would have fit in nicely with 19th-century Enlightenment assumptions, but have been soundly rejected since by both Catholic and non-Catholic scholars.

      • William Davis

        I agree. Many (especially Jesus Mythicists) apply ridiculously loose pattern recognition here. I have no doubt Jesus existed, but my views are pretty close to Bart Ehrman's (though he's obviously not right on everything, no one is). I like N.T. Wright too.

        • Papalinton

          William, I think the 'Jesus mythicist' case has a far greater substantive base today than it has at any time in the past. And it is gaining intellectual, scientific and historical strength going forward. And the best of intellectual 'mythicist scholarship' is yet to come. You're right, Erhman does think a 'real' Jesus existed, but which, if ever of the many archetypal Jesus personalities extant over the 150year period, 100BCE-50CE, was it? But in many ways such a question is irrelevant. Why? Because the fictional, highly embellished and legendised Jesus of the New Testament is certainly not a true historical account of the person which Erhman thinks existed. The Middle Eastern Jesus of the NT is akin to the Paul Bunyan of American folklore, and the historical procession from the oral tradition to print parallel the other: "Paul Bunyan stories circulated for at least thirty years before finding their way into print. In contrast to the lengthy narratives abundant in published material, Paul Bunyan "stories" when told in the lumbercamp bunkhouses were presented in short fragments.[5] Some of these stories include motifs from older folktales, such as absurdly severe weather and fearsome critters. Parallels in early printings support the view that at least a handful of Bunyan stories hold a common origin in folklore."

          Change Paul Bunyan to the name Jesus and the ubiquity of their shared historical process in mythmaking is clear and unambiguous.

          Of course the contemporary "mythicist case' in biblical scholarship is emerging, rising from a very small but intellectually substantive base, having to contend as it does with the massive inertia of centuries of the prevailing apologetical mindset and the considerable trundling momentum of hegemonic religious thinking, built up over centuries of totalitarian consolidation, that sought to constrain and contain intellectual thought.

          I think the mythicist case is building, and is unlikely to go away any time soon. I suspect religious thought will ultimately down size as current trends suggest to a rump of believers, not unlike many other special interest groups we would find n a diverse and multicultural community.

      • Papalinton

        I disagree. The purported historicity of a dying god, aka Jesus, is being incrementally chipped away and found not to be as substantive a case as centuries of dogmatic apologetics would have us believe. Your assertion that 'any story with a dying god is a slam dunk argument against Christianity is both sloppy and disingenuous', is only such through the prism of a peculiar religious belief. The faith claim of the historicity of a dying and resurrected God is a knowledge claim just as much as it is a statement of fact about the world. It's a knowledge claim, an assertion of truth that is independent of one's predilection. But as we know, religious belief is a notoriously unreliable, indeed, a failed epistemology. A dead and rising god is a faith claim masquerading as a knowledge claim. Gary Gutting, professor of Philosophy, Notre Dame, astutely observes:

        "Your religious beliefs typically depend on the community in which you were raised or live. The spiritual experiences of people in ancient greece, medieval Japan or 21st-centurey Saudi Arabia do not lead to belief in Christianity. It seems, therefore. that religious belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning."

        This is why it is that Grayling and many and increasing numbers of philosophers and historians eschew the Jesus fable as a claim of fact. Indeed what is being philosophically and historically highlighted here is that a belief in the actuality of a dying and rising God as a knowledge claim has simply run its course. It cannot be sustained today, even for one moment, that it is anything other than a contrived ideation of mythical origin. And under the scrutiny of modern investigative techniques and protocols, any purported historical basis for 3 day old carcass revivifying to full biological health and fitness plainly defies reality.

        In that respect, Grayling is undoubtedly on exponentially firmer epistemic and ontological ground.

  • Loreen Lee

    This video from Father Barron, I found very illuminating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp21zP50cSE Perhaps it will be allowed on this post because it does mention some of the pre-Thomistic/Aristotelean traditions of Catholicism.

  • Luke Cooper

    Regarding footnote 11, why not link to peer-reviewed studies on homosexual parenting conducted by researchers without a priori biases instead of an opinion piece written by a conservative Judeo-Christian splinter group that works backward from the conclusion that same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry or adopt children? Quite telling, and it makes me not want to take any of the author's other points seriously if this article is what he thinks passes as good evidence. If most Abrahamic religious sects such as the RCC didn't preach that homosexuality is sinful, maybe fewer homosexuals would be depressed and suicidal as a result. Treat people as sinful and depraved, and they will begin to think that they are.

    • Mike

      Not everyone wants to be attracted to the same sex though? many teenagers hate it not bc anyone says anything but bc it can be very strange. I know of one guy who came out in a very very VERY liberal area, my area, everyone loved him encouraged him to "be himself" and he lived in one of the most gay friendly areas in the NE and yet sadly he took his own life as a young man.

      • Luke Cooper

        Not everyone wants to be attracted to the same sex though

        Mike, where did I imply that everyone does or should want this?

        yet sadly he took his own life as a young man

        As many heterosexual people do, too. It's a tragedy.

        • Mike

          you seemed to be blaming the church for wanting to help ppl avoid what it sees as a sinful and physically unhealthy lifestyle but as you point out some ppl do not want to live this lifestyle and appreciate the churches support.

          • Luke Cooper

            I have a problem with any organization that speaks of homosexuality as "sinful" or "physically unhealthy," especially with those organizations that seek to discriminate against others based on these premises; the RCC happens to be one of these organizations.

            but as you point out some ppl do not want to live this lifestyle and appreciate the churches support.

            I have no idea how this sentence of yours follows from the content of my previous two posts. Can you clarify what you mean and what you think my position is?

            Edit: A few word changes for clarity.

          • Mike

            i think you've got things backwards; the church only says the acts are sinful not the "inclination" and certainly not ppl!

            it seems to me like you think the only reason homosexual ppl have very poor mental health generally is bc of the church's teaching on human sexuality; but that's not true as some ppl don't want to feel homosexual feelings and appreciate the church's teachings and want to try to live according to its teachings.

          • Luke Cooper

            Why are the "acts" sinful, Mike?

            Why should anyone care about the church's teachings on this subject?

          • Mike

            bc 2 men can't consummate their "relationship" and neither can women...did you know that marriages used be not lawful until consummated? a male body can not "unite" with another male body - this is biology 101.

            bc the church is correct obviously and its positions are well thought out, well reasoned time tested and true.

          • Luke Cooper

            a male body can not "unite" with another male body

            I hate to be the one to break it to you, Mike, but this is actually possible.

            bc the church is correct obviously and its positions are well thought out, well reasoned time tested and true.

            No, it's not obvious, Mike. What's obvious is that many people disagree with your church's "well reasoned time tested and true" teachings on this and other topics.

          • Mike

            how can 2 mens' bodies unite into 1? or women for that matter? dude bio 101!

            ok anyway we're way off topic now.

          • Luke Cooper

            how can 2 mens' bodies unite into 1?

            Do you want a picture, or a video?

          • Mike

            oh you mean like that? no that's just gross don't worry about it.

          • cminca

            Mike--you called homosexuality a "lifestyle" earlier--do you consider it a choice?

          • Mike

            to some extent yes and to some extent no although that is a scientific q - why some ppl can not find the opposite sex erotic is a scientific q seems to me; but doing things is always a choice - what thoughts "fly into" your head is never a choice.

          • cminca

            Mike--

            As a card carrying gay man let me explain it to you.

            Sexual orientation is like handedness.

            It is an inherent trait with no genetic marker.

            It is approximately the same percentage of the population.

            There is a range that goes from strictly right handed, through ambidextrous, to strictly left handed. There is a range that goes from strictly heterosexual through bisexual to strictly homosexual.

            You may change behavior, but you won't change orientation. And you could trigger psychological problems (see "The King's Speech")

            And finally--there is nothing inherently "wrong" with being homosexual or left handed.

            Now--seriously--imagine we said "since children aren't BORN left handed they must be being taught to write with the "wrong" hand" and "we don't want left handers to be able to be married, or to adopt, or to be teachers--because they will be trying to "recruit" children."

            You talk about the teen that took his life because "many teenagers hate it not bc anyone says anything but bc it can be very strange."

            NOT BECAUSE ANYONE SAYS ANYTHING? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

            Can you imagine a national discussion about whether left handers should be allowed to have the same civil rights as the right handers? Can you imagine reading news reports about "lefty bashing"? How about national preachers claiming that left handers were responsible for Hurricane Katrina? For 9/11?

            Can you imagine a preacher telling a congregation that if their child appears to be writing with the wrong hand they need to punch the "lefty" out of the child? Could you imagine a congregation laughing and clapping while a 5 year old sing "ain't no lefties in heaven"?

            Can you imagine a good "Christian" family kicking out their child when they found out he was a "lefty"?

            Yes--there are a lot of psychological and addiction problems in the gay community. Not necessarily due to the nature of being gay--but because of the way they are treated by society. By what they hear on a day to day basis. As one gay writer noted "and somehow some of us got through high school without slitting our wrists".

            So Mike--no--there is no choice about being homosexual. It is how I was born.

            There is nothing "disordered" about being gay. There is nothing "wrong" with either being gay or acting upon that nature. If gay Catholics want to be celibate that is their choice--that is their right.

            It is NOT the CC's "right" to tell me how to live my life. It is certainly not their "right" to dictate my civil rights. And if they want to claim otherwise--than they have to be prepared to be criticized. You can't malign others than scream "freedom of religion" when someone calls you on your bigotry.

            And finally--"oh you mean like that? no that's just gross don't worry about it."

            Not to me it isn't.

          • Mike

            ok take it easy look this is not the place to be discussing this topic. there is a question proper for science here and a question for values/morals; the one can inform the other but ultimately the values q is a much more complex one and authoritative imho.

            i think that science will reveal alot about this phenomenon in the future that i believe will help everyone understand things more clearly and with more insight...this is btw a proper object of investigation i believe for science.

          • cminca

            The author brought it up--not me.

            "....the one can inform the other but ultimately the values q is a much more complex one and authoritative imho.

            The scientific community has "informed" the religious world. The religious world doesn't want to listen. The religious world doesn't want to admit IT WAS WRONG. Because if it has to admit it was wrong about homosexuals--then it will get questioned on other topics. And that would be bad for "business".

            "Authoritative" as in the CC (or any religion) should be in the position to VETO scientific research that doesn't agree with the CC's "values"?

            Yes--because that was so successful with the tobacco lobby researching the correlation between smoking and cancer--right?

          • Mike

            science can never in principle settle a q of values and this is ultimately a q of values i am just saying that science in theory should be able to identify what factors contribute to its expression - how does human sexuality "work" can it be changed? to what extent? are there risks to this or that etc etc on and on.

            btw the only thing science seems to be confirming is that 1 no one is "born" any "way" straight or gay and that it doesn't appear to be as immutable as once thought as women especially more than men appear to be able to "shift" the objects of their desires.

            would it be ok with you if one day say a "pill" were developed that guaranteed a "straight" sexuality, would you be against it being given to willing teenagers? or at least those for whom this sexuality was causing a tremendous amount of suffering? i am curious about your response bc to me it seems like it would have the potential to help alot of ppl avoid alot of harm.

          • cminca

            "btw the only thing science seems to be confirming is that 1 no one is "born" any "way" straight or gay and that it doesn't appear to be as immutable as once thought as women especially more than men appear to be able to "shift" the objects of their desires."

            I'd like a citation on this please. I'd like to see a credible scientific article that says "no one is "born" any "way".

            And as I've already described for you sexuality is a scale--not an either/or. Kinsey outlined that back in 1948.

            "would it be ok with you if one day say a "pill" were developed that guaranteed a "straight" sexuality, would you be against it being given to willing teenagers? or at least those for whom this sexuality was causing a tremendous amount of suffering?"

            Have you ever looked into what happens when someone decides they want to "transition" their sexuality? It isn't done at the drop of a hat. The candidates go through extensive psychological evaluation to make certain that the person actually DOES identify as the opposite sex, etc.
            This is before even hormone treatment--let alone surgery.

            Your hypothetical is telling. You are looking for a "cure" for something that really isn't broken. Same sex attraction is just different--not better, not worse, statistically "abnormal" as is left-handedness but not physically or psychologically harmful.

            But you are talking about a hypothetical pill to alleviate the psychological burden of THE REST OF THE WORLD HAVING ISSUE WITH YOU.
            But the answer to your hypothetical is no--I don't mind as long as the drug is taken with the same care and professional monitoring as sex reassignment.

            Now I've got some hypotheticals for you--

            Dan Savage and his husband Terry have a son who came out to them--as heterosexual. Would you allow their son to take a pill making him gay if HE wanted? Because his heterosexuality was different than his fathers' and he wanted to emulate them?

            What about a pill that "cured" someone of being black? Would you have a problem with that?

            What about a pill that "cured" people of believing in a higher power--whether that was a Christian or other god or gods? Would you support giving that to children and teens until they could decide for themselves?

            Homosexuality isn't a disease that needs to be cured. It is a simply a difference, just like being left handed.

          • Mike

            savage and his "husband" are NOT the kids parents he has a mother who is not in his life which is a tragedy!

            i think homosexuality is a terrible cross for most ppl and is a disordered form of sexuality so i wouldn't want anyone to have to experience it - btw i also suspect that "strict" homosexuality is somehow a psychological "disorder" but not bi-sexuality - i just think that not being able to get "turned on" by the opposite sex is in some way "a problem" but the psych points are my personal opinion the church only says it is a disordered form of sexuality.

            i have no idea what having dark skin has to do with being unable to find the opposite sex attractive.

          • David Nickol

            savage and his "husband" are NOT the kids parents he has a mother who is not in his life which is a tragedy!

            I suggest you do not sit in judgment of people and situations when you don't know the facts. Dan Savage and his husband went through an open adoption process in which they knew the mother of their adoptive son and she wanted them to be her son's adoptive parents. She continues to be in touch with her biological son.

            What you imagine to be true about other people's lives is not necessarily the case. In an ideal world, it might be the case that it is best for a child to be raised by his or her biological parents. But we do not live in an ideal world. In a country where the majority of first-time mothers give birth out of wedlock, where the majority of mothers under 30 give birth out of wedlock, where over 40 percent of all births are out of wedlock, where 53 percent of births to Hispanics are out of wedlock, and 72 percent of births to black mothers are out of wedlock, whining that it's a tragedy that Dan Savage's son's biological mother is not in his life—especially when you are wrong and she is—makes one suspect you are overly concerned about what gay people do and not concerned enough with all of those heterosexuals you assume to be mentally healthy.

          • Mike

            all children deserve a mom and a dad to deny them that is a massive injustice - all gay ppl should follow his example then and not bar a child's real mom or dad from knowing them and loving them - women's wombs are not for rent by rich white gay men - women are not to be commercialized bc 2 ppl can't reproduce!

          • David Nickol

            women's wombs are not for rent by rich white gay men - women are not to be commercialized bc 2 ppl can't reproduce!

            You are changing the subject. We are talking about an open adoption by two gay men, not a case where a gay couple paid a surrogate mother to have their child. One might easily oppose all paid surrogacy, whether it be by heterosexual married couples paying a surrogate mother to bear their child or a same-sex couple doing the same.

            Do you oppose adoption? As I said, in an ideal world, it might be preferable to have every child raised by his biological mother and father, but this is not an ideal world. It might be that in an ideal world, every child should be raised by a heterosexual married couple, but again, this is not an ideal world. Even many Catholic adoption agencies allow single parents to adopt children. If every child deserves to be raised by a married mother and a father (biological or otherwise), then single parents should not be permitted to adopt. And what about the 40% of children born out of wedlock every year, most of them no doubt destined to be raised by single mothers?

          • Mike

            preference is given to race and ethnicity when placing kids so preference should also be given to the ability to provide a mom and dad but that's not allowed which is insane. to deny a child a mom or dad ON PURPOSE is imho evil.

          • David Nickol

            to deny a child a mom or dad ON PURPOSE is imho evil.

            So you oppose single-parent adoption?

            preference is given to race and ethnicity when placing kids

            It may be that a certain amount of effort is made to place black children with black parents, white children with white parents, and so on. But this is definitely not a rule among adoption agencies. And certainly many Americans who are not of Asian descent adopt babies from China and other Asian countries.

            There is also a difference between preferences and prohibitions. The first duty of an adoption agency is to place the child in the best available home. If an adoption agency insisted on using as it's first criterion the placement of like with like, it would not be acting in the best interests of the child. And remember, adoption agencies can only place children with parents who are seeking to adopt. Adoption agencies cannot place children in the ideal home. They can only place them in the best home possible based on who is seeking to adopt.

            If an adoption agency has an Asian child up for adoption, and no Asian-American married couple is seeking to adopt at that point, should the agency simply refuse to place the child?

            It is a cliche in discussions like this, but it happens to be true that same-sex couples are often willing to take difficult-to-place children. Is it better for such children to have no stable home at all than to be placed with a same-sex couple?

          • Mike

            your obfuscating and avoiding the logical conclusion that generally preference should be given to male and female households...just as generally preference is given to race and ethnicity etc.

            as all human beings are the result of male and female all kids deserve to experience real diversity in their homes: a mom AND a dad to deny the possibility of one or the other ON PURPOSE is morally repugnant to me.

          • David Nickol

            your obfuscating and avoiding the logical conclusion that generally preference should be given to male and female households...just as generally preference is given to race and ethnicity etc.

            Say a married heterosexual couple, a same-sex couple, and a single man or woman were all in competition to adopt the same child. If those in charge of overseeing the adoption thought all candidates were equally acceptable, it wouldn't bother me at all break a three-way tie by choosing the married heterosexual couple.

            But what you seem to be saying is that if a child can be placed with a married couple, no matter how unsuitable they may be as prospective parents, the child must go to the married couple rather than a same-sex couple or an unmarried individual, no matter how suitable the same-sex couple or single individual are judged to be by those handling the adoption.

            Are you really saying nothing else matters in an adoption situation other than that the would-be adoptive parents are married heterosexuals?

            as all human beings are the result of male and female all kids deserve to experience real diversity in their homes

            In 2013 (the latest year for which I can quickly find data) 25 percent of white children, 42 percent of Hispanic children, and 67 of African American children were living in single-parent homes (the overwhelming majority with their mothers). Let's say somewhere around 4 to 5 percent of the population is gay. At the moment, less than one half of one percent of married couples are gay. Think a moment and tell me where the real problem lies in the United States when it comes to children living without a mother or a father. I'll tell you. It is almost entirely attributable to divorce (the biggest factor) and out-of-wedlock births. Why aren't you screaming about that? I'll answer that for you, too. It's because deep down what really bothers you is the idea of two men or two women having sex. You find it disgusting, and so you are appalled that same-sex couples might adopt children. But you really don't spend much time thinking about how, say, 67 percent of black children live in a home with only one parent. Nor do you protest to Catholic Charities that many if not most of their branches handle single-parent adoptions. If you feel so strongly about this, I suggest you check with your local Catholic Charities or other Catholic adoptions services, and if they handle single-parent adoptions, tell them that for them to deny an adoptive child a mother or a father ON PURPOSE is morally repugnant to you.

          • Mike

            "it wouldn't bother me at all break a three-way tie by choosing the married heterosexual couple."

            me either but that is precisely what the legislation forbids and gets you labelled the most unjust hateful things: bigot, hater, and on and on and worse! and yes there is nothing more that i am saying just that - now ofcourse that should be the min for public gov agencies but ofcourse every faith tradition should also be allowed to follow its own rules within reason.

            single ppl who are not homosexual may marry and be able to provide a mom or dad but homosexual IN PRINCIPLE can not EVER provide a human being with either a MOM or Dad and to do that is morally repugnant.

            as a personal matter yes i do find the idea of 2 grown men being romantic disgusting but i also think that most ppl do even the very liberals who pretend to be all "tolerant" think so bc i know some of them and when in private they make the most disgusting jokes and would NEVER want THEIR little boys to turn out "that way". btw there as a guy who wrote in the telegraph a paper in england that he found the site of 2 men kissing gross but he was for redefining marriage and all the rest but he said maybe if anything is "genetic" it's homophobia which from a strictly evoluationary pers. makes sense to me.

            glad you mention that though bc of course homosexuality is a very very rare thing and to force any child to grow up in a household which models that behavior for a child that is 98% likely to grow up to be hetero is also no fair and can cause alot of unwarranted confusion and problems for a child which secular research is confirming almost to the point where even among secular scholars it is taken for granted. also i've read that growing up with gay parents double the likely hood of self identifying as gay but only from like 2% to 4% but that's still a big risk and unjust to place on a child for social experiment purposes. about the research: so apparently the facts are pretty established that kids of parents who've had same sex relationships do far worse but what lgbt activists do is "control" for breakup moving houses basically control for "instability" but that's precisely how other scholars argue the very problems they see are "transmitted" so controlling for them is like studying liberal catholic religiosity but controlling for weekly mass attendance or something.

            i'd read the massive regnerus study of the biggest social data set available in all of the us also the canada census data showed the same thing; before you scream about regnerus he is a full tenured in full good faith prof in texas and all of his research is published in 100% secular publications.

          • Mike, the Regnerus study is a joke. Horrible, flawed methodology and comparison sample. He compared the children raised by intact married heterosexual couples to children who were usually conceived in heterosexaul relationship but went through divorce or separation and may have not even been raised by same-sex couples. The results of his study have been disputed by the American Psychological Association (nearly 130,000 members) and the American Medical Association (200,000+ members). Just Google Regnerus study and you can read how flawed his criteria were for determining whether or not children were raised by same-sex parents.

            And that "secular" journal has a pretty low impact factor (~1.5), usually meaning that it has a low bar to hurdle for peer review. All of my empirical pubs are in better journals, and I did those while a grad student. And, by the way, the preponderance of literature that debunks his claims are also in "100% secular publications," so why focus on this one study while ignoring the hundreds of others ones with better methodologies that reach a different conclusion?

            Please read the following document, paying close attention to pages 33 and 34, and footnote 40 on page 34:

            http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2012/07/10/12-15388_Amicus_Brief_Psychological.pdf

          • "Mike, the Regnerus study is a joke. Horrible, flawed methodology and comparison sample. He compared the children raised by intact married heterosexual couples to children who were usually conceived in heterosexaul relationship but went through divorce or separation and may have not even been raised by same-sex couples. The results of his study have been disputed by the American Psychological Association (nearly 130,000 members) and the American Medical Association (200,000+ members).

            The Regenerus study was not a "joke," and throwing around such juvenile slurs does not make it so.

            Your comment makes it clear that you don't have a clear grasp of the actual study. The research methodology was sound (you say it was flawed, but give no reasons why.) The comparison sample was by far the best available--it was large, random, and longitudinal, which no prior study of same-sex attracted parents could claim. In other words, if you reject Regenerus' sample as "flawed", you ironically have to discount even more the samples of every previous study, including those that the APA relied on to support its "no differences" parenting claim (this point was strongly confirmed in a 2005 paper by Loren Marks which surveyed all of the relevant research.)

            You're also wrong to say that the APA has "disputed" Regenerus' study. You assert that, but don't support it. I've yet to see a formal statement from the APA disputing his methodology, but perhaps you're aware of one. They might disagree with his conclusion (a conclusion strongly supported by his study), but they have never "disputed" his methodology or accused his study of being "flawed", as you have.

            "Just Google Regnerus study and you can read how flawed his criteria were for determining whether or not children were raised by same-sex parents."

            Instead of Googling that phrase, have you thought to read the study itself? It's very clear and readable, and Regenerus plainly explains his selection methodology. There is nothing "flawed" about it.

            It's also important to point out that most critics accuse Regenerus of not including married same-sex parents in a long-lasting union. Instead, the majority of same-sex attracted parents are those who had a fling or two, but weren't in a long-lasting, committed relationship.

            But here's the problem with that criticism: Regenerus' study was random and longitudinal! In other words, there were virtually no examples, in the culture, of same-sex couples who remained intact during their child's entire life, from birth to age 18. (Of the 248 children with homosexual parents who were surveyed, only two had lived with their homosexual parent and the parent's partner during their entire adolescence.)

            What does this mean? It means exactly what Regenerus concluded: that same-sex parents have a much higher rate of instability than biological parents, and with that comes all sorts of problems for the children.

            I highly suggest reading Regenerus' actual study yourself, or at least some interviews with him, instead of relying on highly-biased (and politically-charged) reactions and Google searches.

          • I have a PhD in experimental psychology, Brandon. Yes, I've read the study. I can think for myself on this issue and have read all sides of the arguments.

            Speaking of juvenile slurs, can you please address Mike, Mila, and Ye Olde? If you want to foster respectful dialogue here, you're not doing a good job in my opinion. Non-Catholics could never get away with what you allow Catholics to get away with here.

            How many atheists have you banned without warning here over the years? A few dozen? How many Catholics have you banned here for their vitriol? I'm guessing none.

          • Michael Murray

            Some atheists I know Luke who have been banned:

            Andre B, Andrew G, Argon, Articulett, Ben Posin, BenS, Danny Getchell, Epeeist, felixcox, Geena Safire, Gwen, Ignorant Amos, Jonathan West, josh, MichaelNewsham, Mike A, Noah Luck, M. Solange O'Brien, Paul Boillot, picklefactory, Ray Vorkin, Renard Wolfe, Rob Tisinai, Stjepan Marusic, Susan, Zen Druid.

            Rick de Lano is a Catholic who has been banned. I don't know of any others.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            The Regnerus (not Regenerus) study was flawed because it had multiple independent variables between the study groups. This is a huge no-no. The study compared children of stable hetero couples to unstable same-sex pseudo-couples. So you cannot make a straight comparison and conclude that the same sex variable is the one that caused issues for the children.

            I used the therm "pseudo-couple" above because in the study the children of "same sex" couples were largely really coming from failed opposite-sex marriages that involved same-sex activity - not regular gay couples. So what the study really showed is that children from stable opposite-sex marriages do better than children from broken opposite-sex marriages that involved same-sex activity. This is not particularly surprising since we know that broken marriages (with or without same-sex activity) will have a negative impact on children.

            That is where the study is severely flawed - it attempts to say something about children raised by gay couples, when in reality it looked at straight marriages. It's a false comparison.

            However, you write that the true conclusion of the study was not this, but that gay couples are more likely to break up (and thus cause problems for the kids.) But again, the study barely looked at gay couples that broke up - they looked at opposite-sex marriages that broke up (because one of them was gay - again, not surprising). So again, the study did not address what you say it concludes.

            So in summary, the study failed to isolate variables, and the group did not match the conclusions that are drawn from it. (Which is probably why it was panned by the American Sociological Association (citation) and hundreds of other scientists including Mark Regnerus' department chair at U. of Texas)

          • "The Regnerus study was flawed because it had multiple independent variables between the study groups. This is a huge no-no."

            It's not clear to me that you understand how statistical research works. *All* studies have multiple variables between the study and control groups. That's precisely why researcher's *control* for specific variables, either during the study or during the analysis.

            "The study compared children of stable hetero couples to unstable same-sex pseudo-couples."

            This isn't true. The study compared children of many different types of parenting arrangements (not just those two) and found that, in almost all variables, children perform significantly better when raised in an in-tact family by their biological parents.

            "I used the therm "pseudo-couple" above because in the study the children of "same sex" couples were largely really coming from failed opposite-sex marriages that involved same-sex activity - not regular gay couples."

            I addressed this exact point above in my comment (which I suggest you re-read.) The problem isn't that Regnerus avoided these "regular" gay parenting couples. The problem is that they didn't exist! Of the thousands of children he studied, in a random, longitudinal sample, there were only two cases of a child raised by a same-sex couple from birth to age 18. The huge majority of same-sex couples split up early in the child's adolescence, which in almost all cases produces devastating results for the child.

            "So what the study really showed is that children from stable opposite-sex marriages do better than children from broken opposite-sex marriages that involved same-sex activity. This is not particularly surprising since we know that broken marriages (with or without same-sex activity) will have a negative impact on children."

            We're in agreement here. But you neglected to highlight another serious finding of the study, noted above, which is that the mythical "stable same-sex marriages" are almost non-existent. It was not the purpose of Regnerus' study to determine why these couples were missing from the large, random, national sample, but my suspicion is that such relationships are far less stable than opposite-sex marriages, and so while they exist in the ideal, they are extremely rare in the real world.

            "That is where the study is severely flawed - it attempts to say something about children raised by gay couples, when in reality it looked at straight marriages. It's a false comparison."

            As with Luke, it's not at all clear to me that you actually read the study in question because Regnerus simply never makes the claim to which you've attributed him. He never suggests any conclusions about "children raised by gay couples." In fact, he repeatedly describes the group in question as "children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship."

            Is it true that some media outlets, in the interest of pithier headlines, have used his research to draw conclusions about "gay parents" or "children of gay parents"? Definitely. But that lack of precision is not Regnerus' fault, not does it invalidate his methodology.

            Therefore, what's "severely flawed" is not the study but your depiction of Regnerus' conclusions.

            "However, you write that the true conclusion of the study was not this, but that gay couples are more likely to break up (and thus cause problems for the kids.)"

            As you did with Regnerus, you now misrepresent my words. I never said this was the "true conclusion" of the study. I simply suggested it was a telling and notable finding of the sample data.

            In summary, you've provide no serious reason to think Regnerus' methodology or conclusions are flawed, nor reason to think that you're actually familiar with the paper itself (as opposed to ruthless attacks on it.) You've simply repeated confused criticisms that have been clearly refuted many times both by Regnerus and his supporters.

          • cminca

            How about this for a serious reason to consider the Regenerus study flawed:

            "Michigan Federal Judge Friedman found the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional. While the ruling itself is a historic moment for the Great Lakes region, it is equally significant that Judge Friedman, a Reagan appointee, spoke out against UT Austin sociologist Mark Regnerus.

            In his ruling, Judge Friedman recognizes “New Family Structures Study,” a research project conceived and mostly funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute, as a horrendous piece of anti-LGBT propaganda.

            He wrote:

            "The Court finds Regnerus's testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 'study' was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it 'essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society' and which 'was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.' ... While Regnerus maintained that the funding source did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged.""

            From the same article:

            "In March, UT Austin denounced his research as “fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families.”

            http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/michigan-judge-delivers-devastating-blow-to-junk-scientist-regnerus

          • "How about this for a serious reason to consider the Regenerus study flawed"

            I didn't see a single reason to think the study was flawed in that excerpt, much less a serious reason. I saw lots of blustery rhetoric ("entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration") and some ad hominem attacks about who funded the study, but no serious reason to question Regnerus' methodology.

            This, unfortunately, has been the typical reaction to the study.

          • cminca

            A Federal Judge, appointed by a conservative Republican, after witnessing days of testimony, essentially calls Regenerus' study "statistics for sale to the highest bidder" and you don't see a single reason to think the study was flawed?

            And yet somehow I'm not surprised.

            Because Brandon--the TYPICAL reaction to the study has been to give it credence it doesn't warrant for saying things it doesn't say while pretending it studied what it actually didn't study.

          • OverlappingMagisteria

            Then I suppose I am very confused as to what you think the conclusion of the Regnerus study is. In your first post, which I have now re-read twice, you wrote:

            What does this mean? It means exactly what Regenerus concluded: that
            same-sex parents have a much higher rate of instability than biological
            parents, and with that comes all sorts of problems for their children.

            When I wrote that the conclusion is that "gay couples are more likely to break up (and thus cause problems for the kids.)" you say I am misrepresenting your words? Perhaps I am misunderstanding your meaning, but those two sound the same to me.

            In any case, you do say that it is a "telling and notable finding of the sample data" so let me address this point again.

            The study surveyed about 15,000 children and found only 2 who were raised by same-sex parents. You say that this suggests that gay parents are less likely to "remain intact during their child's entire life." But this conclusion does not follow the data. It only shows that, unless you're watching Modern Family or Glee, same-sex parents are rare. It says nothing about how successful their unions are. This would be like saying "I have only found 2 married couples who are Albanian trapeze artists out of 15,000. Therefore, married Albanian trapeze artists must get divorced quite often!"

            (I'll also note that it is not surprising that same-sex parenting is rare - same-sex couple adoption only started becoming legal in 1997 and is still not legal in all states. It is going to be hard to find 18 year olds adopted by SS couples if it was illegal 18 years ago.)

            You wrote in your earlier post about the Regnerus study:

            (Of the 248 children with homosexual parents who were surveyed, only two had lived with their homosexual parent and the parent's partner during their entire adolescence.)

            And in the more recent post:

            The huge majority of same-sex couples split up early in the child's adolescence...

            You are saying that there were 248 gay couples, and 246 of them split up. This data would support your case that same-sex couples have trouble staying together... except that that is entirely wrong reading of the data. In reality, the majority of those 248 children were offspring of failed opposite sex unions (citation here, on pg 16 / PDFpg 26) but Regnerus placed them in the same-sex parent category. In other words, the child was born to an opposite-sex couple, the couple split up, and the child ended up living with the straight parent. It shows nothing about how successful the gay parent's subsequent relationship was. If anything, these numbers show that if you're gay, trying to force yourself into a straight marriage probably won't work.

            This is the problem with the Regnerus study. The methodology might have been fine... but the conclusions that people are drawing from it just do not match. You and the media are both trying to make it say something about gay couples, when it did not look at any gay couples (well, maybe 2 couples.... but you get the point.) At best it shows that gay parents are rare... but does not say anything about why they are rare. The conclusions do not follow the data.

            -----------------
            You brought up many other points of mine. These critiques were less relevant to the main point above, but I'd like to quickly address some of them:

            *All* studies have multiple variables between the study and control
            groups. That's precisely why researcher's *control* for specific
            variables, either during the study or during the analysis.

            Yes, I know. But Regnerus did not do that for gay couples. The way to control for these variables would be to find a sub-sample of your data that eliminates those variables. Regnerus was understandably unable to find many children raised in steady same-sex households, so he was unable to control for that variable.

            This isn't true. The study compared children of many different types of
            parenting arrangements (not just those two) and found that, in almost
            all variables, children perform significantly better when raised in an
            in-tact family by their biological parents.

            Yes I'm aware that the study had many other groups, but this is irrelevant. The problem is that it did not have an adequate same-sex couple group. I don't doubt that the the study showed that children raised in an intact bio-family did better than a single parent, divorced, or other-type of broken family. But it showed nothing about same-sex parents because it only found 2 of those.

            I have been re-reading your posts and they are seriously leaving me confused as to what you are trying to say.... As I said before, at first you said that the conclusion of the study was that gay unions are unstable, but then you say that Regnerus was not trying to say why gay couples were missing from the data, and that lower stability is just a "suspicion" of yours.

            You say that in the study, "the huge majority of same-sex couples split up early in the child's adolescence", but then go on to admit that Regnerus only looked at "children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship" which is clearly not the same thing.

            Well... thanks for reading this far. Sorry for writing so much. :-)

          • I know you don't like quoting extensively in the comments, but I think that others have communicated these points well and I don't want to spend too much time on this topic.

            1) The study is not longitudinal.

            There are several things the NFSS is not. The NFSS is not a longitudinal study, and therefore cannot attempt to broach questions of causation. It is a cross-sectional study

            From: Regnerus (2012), p. 755.

            2) The study's sample was drawn randomly from the population, as you say; I have no problem with the overall sampling procedures. The problem I have is how Regnerus grouped the sample into the 8 comparison sub-samples that he used to conduct his data analyses.

            The Regnerus study placed participants (individuals between the age of 18 and 39) into one of eight categories, six of which were defined by the family structure in which they grew up — e.g., married biological parents, divorced parent, divorced but remarried parent, etc. There was no category for “same-sex couple.” Instead, the final two categories included all participants, regardless of family structure, who believed that at some time between birth and their 18th birthday their mother or their father “ever ha[d] a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex.” Hence the data does not show whether the perceived romantic relationship ever in fact occurred; nor whether the parent self-identified as gay or lesbian; nor whether the same sex relationship was continuous, episodic, or one-time only; nor whether the individual in these categories was actually raised by a homosexual parent (children of gay fathers are often raised by their heterosexual mothers following divorce), much less a parent in a long-term relationship with a same-sex partner. Indeed, most of the participants in these groups spent very little, if any, time being raised by a “same-sex couple.” Hence the Regnerus study sheds no light on the parenting of stable, committed same-sex couples – as Regnerus himself acknowledges – and thus it is gravely misleading to say, as the American College of Pediatricians does, that the study involved 175 participants who “were raised by two women and 73 by two men.”

            From: APA et al. amicus brief (2012), pp. 33-34. References removed for clarity.

            3. Yes, the APA did dispute his methodology, as shown in the above quote.

            I'll start with these three for now.

          • Joe Ser

            Political Correctness Rules, Not Science," Says American Psychological Association Past-President - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuyCT9ygT-4&feature=player_embedded

            "Unbiased, Open Research [on Homosexuality] Was Never Done," Says Former A.P.A. President - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPgq1c4TYi4&feature=player_embedded

            Former APA President Says Homosexuals Can Change - http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/item/11640-former-apa-president-says-homosexuals-can-change

            and

            Former APA President Condemns APA for Barring Research - http://www.narth.org/docs/barring.html

            Former president of APA says organization controlled by ‘gay rights’ movement - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/former-president-of-apa-says-organization-controlled-by-gay-rights-movement

            and

            "Political Correctness Rules, Not Science," Says American Psychological Association Past-President in Interview - http://josephnicolosi.com/videos2/

          • 1) The study is not longitudinal.

            Granted. Thanks for the correction! My mistake.

            This is a relatively minor error, though, and doesn't affect my other points.

            2) The study's sample was drawn randomly from the population, as you say; I have no problem with the overall sampling procedures. The problem I have is how Regnerus grouped the sample into the 8 comparison sub-samples that he used to conduct his data analyses.

            There is no problem with grouping the children into the 8 sub-sample groups unless the conclusions that Regnerus attempts to draw conflict with these sub-samples. But this isn't the case.

            The APA brief you quote takes issue with the ACP's interpretation of Regnerus' data, but that's not Regnerus' fault, nor a strike against his methodology.

            3. Yes, the APA did dispute his methodology, as shown in the above quote.

            This is not true. See my response above. The APA did not dispute his methodology. They claimed you can't draw specific conclusions from his study, given how the study was crafted, but they're conclusions that Regnerus never claimed to draw. In fact they even admit this ("as Regnerus himself acknowledges.")

          • There is no problem with grouping the children into the 8 sub-sample groups unless the conclusions that Regnerus attempts to draw conflict with this sub-samples. But this isn't the case.

            This is precisely the case! Everything hinges on how he constructed these groups.

            From Regnerus, 2012, p. 758:

            These eight groups are largely, but not entirely, mutually exclusive in reality. That is, a small minority of respondents might fit more than one group. I have, however, forced their mutual exclusivity here for analytic purposes. For example, a respondent whose mother had a same-sex relationship might also qualify in Group 5 [divorced] or Group 7 [single parent], but in this case my analytical interest is in maximizing the sample size of Groups 2 [lesbian mother] and 3 [gay father]

            In other words, Regnerus forced people who should have otherwise been placed into the divorced or single parent groups, into the groups he wanted to. This means that he was comparing children from intact families to children whose parents likely went through a divorce or separation.

            Regarding the APA: I'll again quote from the relevant portion of the APA et al. quote I already quoted:

            Instead, the final two categories included all participants, regardless of family structure, who believed that at some time between birth and their 18th birthday their mother or their father “ever ha[d] a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex.” Hence the data does not show whether the perceived romantic relationship ever in fact occurred; nor whether the parent self-identified as gay or lesbian; nor whether the same sex relationship was continuous, episodic, or one-time only; nor whether the individual in these categories was actually raised by a homosexual parent (children of gay fathers are often raised by their heterosexual mothers following divorce), much less a parent in a long-term relationship with a same-sex partner. Indeed, most of the participants in these groups spent very little, if any, time being raised by a “same-sex couple.”

            This is the flawed methodology: His forced grouping of participants into nebulous "gay" and "lesbian" categories that should have been counted as divorced or single-parent as well.

            And why would it even matter if the APA did or did not? Plenty of other groups have, including his own field's, the American Sociological Association. The ASA released an amicus critique of his study and conclusions: http://www.asanet.org/documents/ASA/pdfs/12-144_307_Amicus_%20(C_%20Gottlieb)_ASA_Same-Sex_Marriage.pdf (see pages 16-22).

          • I appreciate the back and forth, Luke, but I'l let this be my last post on the topic. We've discussed this study extensively elsewhere on the site, and in other comment forums, and I'm about out of steam. Feel free to have the last word, though.

            "In other words, Regnerus forced people who should have otherwise been placed into the divorced or single parent groups, into the groups he wanted to. This means that he was comparing children from intact families to children whose parents likely went through a divorce or separation."

            But what's wrong with that comparison? Regnerus never claimed that heterosexual parenting is, in general, better for children than same-sex parenting (although many other studies have since arrived at this conclusion.) He was interested in comparing in-tact, biological parenting to other arrangements.

            He simply used the NFFS data to show two things:

            1. There are statistically strong differences in outcome between children raised by their in-tact, biological parents and every other measurable type of parenting relationship (thus bursting the "no differences" claim.)

            and

            2. On average, children perform best, by several variables, when raised by their biological parents in a stable marriage.

            Now, it is true to say this study did not compare "in-tact, biological parenting" to "stable, same-sex parenting" (which, again, Regnerus never claims it did) but the only reason why is because....the latter group is statistically non-existent! Stable, same-sex parents are so extremely rare that the NFFS' random, large sample-size only showed 2 instances out of the ~3,000 respondents. That should naturally cause us to ask why such relationships are so rare, especially in light of the preponderance of same-sex relationships accounted for in the study. Why do these relationships not last?

          • I'm about out of steam, too.

            There are statistically strong differences in outcome between children raised by their in-tact, biological parents and every other measurable type of parenting relationship (thus bursting the "no differences" claim.)

            1. If you're familiar with null hypothesis significance testing, you know that researchers (such a Regnerus and many others) set probability levels to determine whether group differences can be attributable to chance. The most common criterion for significance is a p < .05 alpha level. Using this common choice, we then know that 5% of all analyses will reveal false positives. In other words, 5% of all analyses will yield p values that would lead researchers to reject the null hypothesis and conclude that there is a statistically significant difference, when in fact there is actually not a significant difference but a statistically improbable result.

            Because of this, there have surely been other researchers who found significant differences between children raised by hetero and same-sex couples; reasons such as these are why we look at the overall picture of results or conduct meta-analyses. The "no difference" claim has been "bursted" many times before, probably because of this statistical artifact. And even if the Regnerus results were valid, they still would not change the preponderance of evidence that supports the "no difference" claim.

            Adding to this problem, Regnerus didn't even adjust his p < .05 alpha level to account for the familywise error rate from running multiple analyses. As a result, he elevated the probability that some of his findings were false positives due to chance, and not real group differences.

            That should naturally cause us to ask why such relationships are so rare, especially in light of the preponderance of same-sex relationships accounted for in the study. Why do these relationships not last?

            2. People who are gay and lesbian have been persecuted and maligned and are currently being discriminated against. They are often denied the legal right to marry and worse. What message is that sending to them? It's saying to them, "We as a society refuse to recognize you and your relationships as legitimate. You are disordered and your relationships are not worthy of our acknowledgement." When this is the message, can you blame same-sex couples for not sticking it out during the tough times? Although opinions are changing, many people would rather have homosexuals stay single and closeted than recognize them for who they are as equals with equal rights.

            There are no external incentives to stay together. Until recently, no same-sex couples in the US could file taxes together or share benefits with their partners. How many more heterosexual couples would divorce if there were no legal and monetary consequences? In many areas of the country, the public doesn't even want to see same-sex couples together; they think homosexuality gross and immoral. And sometimes same-sex couples have no familial support because of couples' sexual orientations. There are so many more factors working against the relationships of same-sex couples than heterosexual couples.

          • Roman

            Luke, I was going to pass this up but you have too many false claims here. For the sake of brevity, I'll just tackle the one you spent so much time on. Let me say first of all that I think its possible that discrimination has played some role in affecting gay families. I don't know. I haven't seen a study that proves that this played a significant role, however. I have seen studies that attribute the differences between gay/lesbian parented families and heterosexual parented families to behaviour that is chosen. For example, you can google the New York Times survey that found that over 50% of gay marriages were "open" marriages. The link below is to a Slate article that references other studies showing similar results.

            http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/06/26/most_gay_couples_aren_t_monogamous_will_straight_couples_go_monogamish.html

            You see, the gay marriage movement has redefined marriage to suit their life style. We've gone from the traditional model of a man+woman, monogomous and permanent marriage to any combination of men and women you choose, "monogamish" (to use Dan Savage's terminology) and temporary arrangement. All of this is to the detriment of any children they have. Common sense should tell you that. But for those lacking in common sense, there are a ton of studies that prove children do best when raised in a family that practices the traditional model

          • This article references gay couples in relationships, not necessarily marriages, and I don't know if it details whether or not the percentages vary between couples who do and do not have or want children.

            Also, I'm not aware of any literature that suggests having parents who sleep with other people from time to time is detrimental to children. It's possible that a child would never know; it depends on when and where the extra-relationship encounters occur. But I agree that open relationships could be a problem for children if there ends up being a "rotating cast" of parental figures. This would be true for both straight and same-sex couples, and single parents as well.

          • Joe Ser
          • Do you know why you point me to silly anecdotes like this? It's because you don't have the 30 years of data from empirical studies to back up your claims.

            If the preponderance of data shifts in the coming years to suggest that the children raised by same-sex parents may be worse-off than comparable children raised by heterosexual parents, I will update my beliefs accordingly. Until--if ever--that happens, please stop replying to my empirically-informed comments with your opinions.

          • Joe Ser

            I have thousands of years to back my claims.

          • Joe Ser
          • No studies there, Joe. Just stories and testimonies. As if children raised by heterosexual couples don't have horror stories. No one is claiming that same-sex couples are faultless or that children raised by same-sex couples never have problems. On average, the children are no different. That's the claim. Quit wasting my time. I am not going to reply to you any more on this thread.

          • Joe Ser

            There are studies in the link I provided.

          • Mike

            i don't want to get into a debate on the regnerus study but as far as i know it is 100% legit by all secular standards; you are free to disagree with his findings and the way he set up the study but the findings flow logically from his methods which are standard op. procedure.

          • Joe Ser

            Gay adoption is a bandaid lowest denominator solution. The root cause lies with no fault divorce and as a result the children are sacrificed. Strengthen the real family.

          • David Nickol

            Strengthen the real family.

            And what is your program for doing that? The adoption of no-fault divorce over a rather short period of time by all fifty states was not part of the "gay agenda," nor is the ever-increasing number of out-of-wedlock births. Do you think the heterosexual majority can be persuaded to strengthen the family by making divorce much harder to obtain? I don't think so.

          • Joe Ser

            Marriage needs to refocus back on children and what is best for them. They do best in a real marriage with father and mother in the home.

          • Mila

            "So you oppose single-parent adoption?"
            If there is a married couple, would you deny the child the opportunity to be raised by a mother and a father?
            I wouldn't oppose a single-parent adoption, only if there are no married couples waiting to adopt, however that's rearly the case.

          • David Nickol

            I wouldn't oppose a single-parent adoption, only if there are no married couples waiting to adopt, . . . .

            Are you saying that any married couple seeking to adopt a child is better than any individual seeking to become a single parent?

            . . . . however that's rearly the case.

            Do you actually know how often there are both married couples and single individuals in competition to adopt a child? What is your source of information? Do you have any statistics?

          • Mila

            I work for a women crisis center and I work with different adoption agencies. Just the other day I had a 17 year old girl wanting to give her baby for adoption, I would be the intermediary that links the girl in crisis with different adoption agencies. If the adoption fails then we help her with other options, excluding the killing of that child.
            I'm involved in this arena. We have parents waiting and waiting. It's beyond devastating, especially when the adoption doesn't go through. Most adoption agencies will provide the mother with a list of parents waiting to adopt. The mother then gets to decide. In those book listing one can see the vast number of married couples waiting. Page after page.... This is no secret, some adoption agencies will post this information, with the married couple's consent, online.
            We've had married couples call our organization telling us that they wanted to adopt and if we met a girl in crisis who wanted to give her baby for adoption they will adopt. These parents are so desperate that they want to bypass the adoption agencies red-tape and work directly with us, the girl, and the state. Some married couples save so much money so they can pay for the mother's education and all bills for years in the hopes that she chooses them to be parents of her baby.
            It's a whole world full of hopes never filled.

          • David Nickol

            Bless you for the good work that you do!

            Yes, certainly the demand for newborn babies is so high that it is no doubt easy to find married couples to adopt them all. But in the United States, a large percentage of adoptions (perhaps 40 percent) are from foster care (children who have had to be taken from their parents). Statistics are difficult to come by, but from what I have read, there are about 400,000 children in the foster care system at any given time, about a quarter of those available for adoption, and yet they may wait for years to be placed with a family (if ever) because the demand is for newborn babies. Same-sex couples in the United States are more willing than heterosexual couples to adopt older children, minority children, and special needs children. If same-sex couples are ruled out as prospective parents, it is quite possible than many difficult-to-place children will never be adopted at all.

          • Joe Ser

            Daughter of Two Moms Comes Out Against Gay Marriage - https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/daughter-of-two-moms-comes-out-against-gay-113987192687.html

            Out From Under - http://www.dawnstefanowicz.org/

            We will be seeing more of this.

          • Mila

            I agree completely. I wish people here knew how to read in Spanish. Here is an article written by 6 children of homosexual "parents" opposing it and expressing how horrible their experiences were. A common thing between them all, is that they feel they were used to push an agenda.
            Given that there are parents, men and women, waiting to adopt, homosexual adoption should not be given any priority or even consideration..
            Nobody thinks of the children. Political agendas seem to be the priority when discussing homosexual adoption.
            They'll always bring up a case where if the homosexuals didn't adopt the child would have been aborted or thrown into foster care, etc. Those are lies. I work for women crisis center where we connect them with adoption agencies. We get lists of parents waiting to adopt.
            This whole issue is beyond cruel and I believe when people die they will see the incredible damage that it has been done to families and children. All for the sake of an agenda. Can't people realize that the union of a man and a woman is so sacred that it has the potential to co-create a being unique and eternal? That's incredible!!!
            Anyhow, here is the article but it is in Spanish. Hopefully you can find another in English.
            https://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/seis-hijos-de-parejas-gays-envian-carta-a-dolce-y-gabbana-gracias-por-defender-nuestro-derecho-46482/?fb_comment_id=fbc_696326400477465_696360167140755_696360167140755#f20ebdec14

          • Mike

            my wife and i know the issue well we tried adopting and know how many ppl there are but not as many kids - my only issue is that preference should be give to a mom and dad just as preference is given to race but the laws state that any preference is illegal except race and ethnicity so the law is evil imho as a mom especially but also a dad is sacred imho.

          • Mila

            It's the ultimate act of sexism as well. Two men adopting is like saying women are not necessary and irrelevant. The same works for when two women adopt.
            It's catastrophic! From every angle one looks at it. The victims are of course children. I'm filled with foreboding when I think of how so many children were deprived of a mother. A mother is someone made especially for raising children. It's also in her nature.
            But the worse is the new fad that they want to have biological children and so they rent wombs or buy sperm from a sperm bank... just like they would buy a toy or a bottle of wine. They select what they like. Abhorrent! Abominable! And anyone who thinks or even attempts to justify this is seriously twisted and sick. They will soon realize the magnitude of this. I'm not worry about that at all. I'm mainly worried about the children.
            It's funny how nowadays you will hear the advocates of this talk as if they cared for children and how they are so compassionate about children all of the sudden. How if they don't adopt the children would die. What lie is that!!! All false compassion! All founded on a lie!
            Mind you these advocates are part of the same movement that also advocates infanticide and partial-birth abortion.

          • Mike

            the worst part for me is that all of these ppl were themselves raised by a mom and dad and yet they would deny that most fundamental justice for the sake of some passing ideology...it's amazing.

          • cminca

            Go on you tube. Look up Zach Wahls. Listen to his statement to the Ohio assembly. Tell us how your kid would have stacked up.
            Go to google. Look up Ham Family phoenix 12 kids. See if you think those kids would be better off without their family.

          • Luke Cooper

            Here is an article written by 6 children of homosexual "parents" opposing it and expressing how horrible their experiences were.

            I could surely find many more horror stories by children raised with heterosexual parents. But you wouldn't attribute those childrens' experiences to the fact that their parents were heterosexual, would you? No, you'd find some other variable to blame it on, like infidelity, substance abuse, aggression, etc. Why do you think that same-sex parents deserve blame for being same-sex, when you wouldn't blame heterosexual parents for being heterosexual?

            Nobody thinks of the children.

            Untrue. The preponderance of peer-reviewed scientific research conducted by unbiased sources controlling for key differences finds little to no significant differences in children raised by same-sex couples. Please cite your sources if you want your claims to be taken seriously. If the net research actually showed that children raised by same-sex couples were worse off, I'd be singing a different tune.

            Can't people realize that the union of a man and a woman is so sacred that it has the potential to co-create a being unique and eternal? That's incredible!!!

            So what? My parents know a heterosexual family: two life-long Christian parents and two young daughters raised in church. The older daughter, 10, just tried hanging herself as a result of being emotionally abused by her mother. The social workers have intervened and may take away these children from this God-fearing heterosexual couple. It's tragic. No child should have be raised in that environment.

          • Mila

            "I could surely find many more horror stories by children raised with heterosexual parents"
            That's true, but you are not really saying that homosexuals don't have the same problems that heterosexual families have, right? Divorce, violence, materialism, etc.

            However, with homosexuals an additional burden/problem is added.

            You claimed that I didn't cite sources, but I did provide one where 6 children from different homosexual unions speak up against it.

          • Luke Cooper

            The plural of anecdote is not data. I cited my own source, too: Me. What bad heterosexual parents they are, right? We shouldn't let the whole lot of them anywhere near children!

            Here's a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (not that silly College one) from 2013 on the 30 years of accumulated evidence on the comparative wellbeing of children raised by same-sex parents: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/18/peds.2013-0377

            Still think your story of six children generalizes?

          • Mila

            Given that the AAP is so biased and practically run by the LGTB interest groups and has publicly declared that they will actively endorse gay marriage and support it for policy.
            Isn't it funny how we have another American organization, The American College of Pediatricians, that contradicts their obviously bias report.
            Typical of the movement that only seeks political gain without caring whatsoever for the consequences. Shameful!
            You should read some of the critiques from the same community.
            Here is a good article:
            http://www.personal.psu.edu/glm7/m248.htm
            And here is a good statement released by the ACP

            “The American College of Pediatricians reaffirms that the intact, functional family consisting of a married (female) mother and (male) father provides the best opportunity for children,” the statement said. “The College, therefore, disputes the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) claim that supporting same-sex unions promotes the "well-being of children."

            "The College does not support the alteration of this time-honored and proven standard to conform to pressures from ‘politically correct’ groups,” Dr. Den Trumbull, president of the ACP said. “No one concerned with the well-being of children can reasonably ignore the evidence for maintaining the current standard, nor can they or we ignore the equally strong evidence that harm to children can result if the current standards are rejected.”

            "The AAP ignores generations of evidence of health risks to children in advocating for the legality and legitimacy of same-sex marriage and child-rearing,” Trumbull said.

            Quite telling that they have to manipulate in order to advance their nefarious and destructive agenda.

          • Luke Cooper

            I can't believe this... Mila, read the other comments here regarding the ACP. You should realize who the biased group is in this scenario is. The ACP has at most 200 members (compared to AAP's 60,000+ members) and is a conservative Judeo-Christian splinter group; it was formed in opposition to the AAP's empirically-derived position that children raised by same-sex couples are do as well on average as those from heterosexual couples. Only one has the preponderance of data in support of its position: the AAP. The opinion piece you linked to was written by a retired Penn State research mathematician who just happens to be a conservative Christian.

          • Mila

            Let me ask you something, do you think it is right to rent wombs, to buy sperm at sperm banks, to manipulate an embryo and make it of the DNA of 3 persons?
            Do you think that's correct?
            And size of an organization that has activist for an agenda, denoting how biased they are, says absolutely nothing to me.
            And those studies are done not just in a period of a few years, those kind of studies are done in decades of observable data?
            Very biased. Children is not something we play with as. Much less experiment with.

          • Luke Cooper

            If 30 years of empirical data showing no significant differences on average between the children raised by same-sex vs. heterosexual parents, then nothing I can say will convince you otherwise. I can't reason with someone who ignores or denies the preponderance of empirical evidence on this topic. Would anything, any amount of evidence or testimony, sway your beliefs, or did you make up your mind long ago?

            Renting wombs: If the surrogate mother is okay with the arrangement, I am too. What are your problems with this?
            Buying sperm: I don't see why this is an issue. What are your problems with this?
            Manipulating embryos: For certain purposes, such as swapping in non-disordered DNA to prevent genetic disorders, definitely. See: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-31069173

          • Mila

            "Manipulating embryos: For certain purposes, such as swapping in non-disordered DNA to prevent genetic disorders"
            Wow! So three parents is ok... How about thinking of the child for a change?
            Swapping genetic disorders? hmmm sounds straight out of Nazi lab. So if a baby has a genetic disorder then its ok to eliminate or "swap"? I'm sure Hitler thought the aryan race was superior genetically speaking. How about loving a person with all her/his defects? Why not manufacture what someone decided is genetically superior and not disordered. Who decides?
            When people think that children can be manufactured as if they were a commodity, they have lost ALL discernment and no longer know what is right what is wrong.
            This lack of morality is what drives people away from atheism. I hope you are doing this out of pride but that deep inside you have some conscious left.

          • Luke Cooper

            Can a moderator please step in and remind Mila of the comment policy and purpose of Strange Notions? I feel utterly disgusted with this website right now. If an atheist made comments anywhere near as disparaging as Mike, Mila, and Ye Olde have made on this article alone, s/he would be banned immediately. The field has been rigged against the very guests invited here for respectful dialogue.

            Mila, the procedure in article I linked to corrects mitochondrial problems that could otherwise lead to death for a child. Please read the article I linked to before making such baseless assertions. I can't tell you how sick your accusations make me feel.

          • Mila

            I gave my opinion on genetically manufacturing a 3-parent baby, I didn't insult you as a person. I read the guidelines and I have not violated them. You don't like my opinion or the opinions of others, then argue with them, but don't accuse me of being slanderous to someone.
            BTW, I still think the manufacturing of a 3-parent baby is something that a Nazi scientist would have come up with and I make no apologies for it. But of course, they'll say it will save lives and cure diseases.... lol Of course, they have to hide eugenics with false compassion.

          • Luke Cooper

            Mila, did you read the article I linked to?

          • Mila

            Of course they have to say that it will cure diseases and supposedly save the live of the baby, otherwise who will even advocate such disaster.
            We are Catholic here, playing with embryos is the same thing as saying we are playing with human beings. Remember, from conception to natural death.
            I would rather live one hour and have a mother and a father than live 3 lifetime with 3-parents.
            It's so typical to say that it will be to cure diseases. They even insert a "victim" in the case to help aid the agenda. Classic!
            I wonder how many embryos will be used to genetically manufacture an anti-natural 3-parent baby to supposedly cure diseases? Those are lives with souls killed in the process.
            And the fact that we can do so many things with technology it doesn't mean that they are right. Technology and scientific advancement can be used for good or evil.
            A few years back this would have been opposed even by staunch atheists, today it passes. It never ceases to amaze me how desensitized society can become to these kind of horrors. I wonder what's next.

          • Luke Cooper

            Mila, did you read the article I linked to?

            Give me a sign that you understand what the procedure would do and would not do. It's basically just organelle transplantation. I don't think that Catholics are against organ transplants; this isn't much different. The 0.1% of the donor DNA would affect the disordered mitochondria (organelles) of cells.

            This is an example of the types of procedures I'd support. Please stop misrepresenting me.

          • Mila

            Yes I have read it. It even has a victim case of a mother who lost babies as a cherry on top.
            1) We can't become a society that genetically engineers human beings. It starts with false compassion that it is to cure a disease. Before we talk about this so-called compassion all of the sudden for babies inside the womb, we should discuss letting them live first.
            2) The baby has a right to know who his parents are. He/she has a right to know the identity of his/her parents
            3) The process leads to the destruction of embryos. So it boils down to let's kill embryos to supposedly save others.
            So they want to genetically engineer a baby to cure disease, but simultaneously they support the dismembering of a baby inside? False compassion, a lie.

          • Luke Cooper

            By your replies, I can tell that you still don't understand how the procedure would affect the developing life and that nothing would change your mind, anyway. Please see my previous comment regarding disengaging from this topic of conversation with you.

          • Mila

            I love it how in the article states "This is a hugely significant moment for the families involved and society as a whole."
            What families? The ones with three parents, two mothers and a man?
            Unreal!
            There is always a disease like Mitochondria that enables this horror to be even considered. Always disguised a horror with the cure of some disease. How clever!
            Tell me if in the future they discover that by adding a fourth DNA to cure another disease, would you support it? How is the child going to feel being a conglomerate of DNA manufactured in a lab? Hey Johnny who are your parents? I don't know, I think one lives in California, another in Chile, one in Russia, and another in Cambridge.
            The real disease here is the destruction of the family. This is what is all about.
            I also love it how the same advocates of this so-called compassion to save babies from a horrible disease are the same advocates for infanticide. Lovely! Anyone who believes this is out of compassion is a fool.

          • Alexandra

            Luke - The procedure is not an "organelle transplantation"at all. The 0.1% is the total genetic contribution of the second mother and has nothing to with the disordered mitochondria. It is nothing like an organ transplant.

          • Luke Cooper

            Sorry, Mila. I'm going to stop discussing this with you. I guess Catholics don't even think IVF is acceptable, so I shouldn't expect you to think that this procedure could be acceptable. My fault for walking into the trap that you laid for me earlier.

          • Mila

            That is wisest thing you said Luke.

          • William Davis

            Ok, we have a reputable organization, the American Academy of Pediatricians which was founded in 1930 for the sole purpose of helping Children. It has done an admirable job, and fulfills a very important mission, I trust their advice when it comes to my own children, this is because I actually understand science and the scientific method.

            "It has the largest pediatric publishing program in the world, with more than 300 titles for consumers and over 500 for physicians and other health-care professionals. These publications include electronic products, professional references/textbooks, practice management publications, patient education materials and parenting books.[5]"
            Pediatrician used the wealth of info provided by the AAP every day to save chlidrens lives and make their lives better.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Academy_of_Pediatrics

            "It has the largest pediatric publishing program in the world, with more than 300 titles for consumers and over 500 for physicians and other health-care professionals. These publications include electronic products, professional references/textbooks, practice management publications, patient education materials and parenting books.[5]

            On the other hand, you have your American College of Pediatricians, and what were they founded for? "The College was founded in 2002 by a group of pediatricians including Joseph Zanga, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as a protest against the AAP's support for adoption by gay couples."

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_College_of_Pediatricians

            Now, what has this American College of Pediatricians done to help kids? Not a DAMN THING. It is nothing but a pathetically biased group with one single purpose, medical propaganda. This is scientific heresy of the worst kind. This garbage is destructive to the conversation, to science to knowledge itself. It is nothing short of an abomination

            I personally think that the RCC should have the right to refuse to allow gay couples to adopt from its orphanages, it is a matter of liberty. I don't agree with it, but government bullying a church into this is a legal mistake in my opinion. Making a mockery of science, on the hand, really pisses me off. It would be like me making my own version of the RCC just so I could say God wants everyone to be gay, or some such nonsense.

          • William Davis

            P.S. Think about how much good these doctors at the ACP could have done if they were actually helping kids (like Jesus would have wanted) instead of wasting countless hours on an absurd propaganda campaign.

          • William Davis

            Until now I was unfamiliar with the ACP, so I checked out their website, there is almost nothing there except common sense fluff pieces, turn around and look at the AAP's site which is loaded with valuable information.
            Think about that is means to STEAL the name of a 70 year old institution. They even fooled David Nickol and I, I thank Luke for bringing this to our attention.

            If you combine the name and website, these people are being INTENTIONALLY DECEPTIVE. This is the kind of stuff nigerian scam artists do, copy something reputable to misinform.
            This kind of deception destroys trust and faith in our society, and is one of the core things wrong with the world today. It is not their position that is the problem, it is the deceptive nature of their enterprise. Remember Satan was the father of lies, and yet Christian so quickly sign off on this garbage.

            I see from websites that the RCC actively supports the ACP. I can't believe this kind of crap from people who are supposed to believe in the truth, Wow, just Wow. The RCC just lost a ton of credibility in my mind, I official call the RCC anti-science, because it is true, blatantly true. So much for non-overlapping magisteria. Game on.

          • Mila

            The organization might have been founded with good intentions and prior to a few years ago they also thought kids adopted by homosexuals suffered an enormous disadvantage. .
            What happened? Why the change? It's full of activist.
            The minority of activists is right now taking control to the point of lying and creating data. As it in the case of their biased report.
            Here is a good report
            http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/homosexual-parenting-is-it-time-for-change
            I am in complete agreement with Zang. the AAP has been taken by activists who want to push an agenda and no longer think of children. It's now an agenda driven organization just like so many others.
            How can anyone say that children without a mother or father (that's what homosexual adoption really is) have no consequences. It is obviously a myth and motivated by the LGBT agenda that evermore imposes it's own made up truth and laws. The majority of the state where homosexual marriage became legal, they needed a judge to go against the people.
            Not to worry people will soon see the effects of such society where family is devalued in such manner.

          • William Davis

            I'm sorry you've been deceived by these people and your Church. I wish there was a way to explain what they've done to you here, but I can't. It's not your fault, it is these unethical people you reference who should know better. It isn't about thinking kids are better with heterosexual couples, it is about the intentional deception. The ACP is not a college of pediatricians. THE NAME IS A BLATANT LIE. The group has nothing to do with pediatrics and is completely ignored by the scientific community for good reason, to acknowledge them would only add attention to their folly. Would it be good to conduct more studies? Sure but not under the guise of a lie.

            I'm 34 and I know NO ONE my age or younger who is against gay marriage, look at the polls by age

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States

            What you fail to realize is that you have already lost this battle, as the older generation dies off, it won't even be discussed, I'm serious. The only thing you have achieved is to cause me to have MORE DISTRUST FOR YOUR CHURCH. You have also provided more evidence that your church has absolutely nothing to do with God. If it did, it my actually try to do the right thing instead of stick with unsubstantiated biases. Continue to destroy your reputation, there is nothing I can do to stop you.
            Don't take any of this personally, but this is very much how people my age see it. The RCC is destroying itself, and blaming everyone else for not believing. Sad really.

          • Mila

            The only big lie here is those who actually believe that homosexual unions are nothing more than a perversion of our own nature. The big lie here is that two people of the same sex can raise a kid just as good as a man and a woman. That implies that one sex is irrelevant. That is sexism.
            Most people don't agree with it. I'm sorry you are believing the lie. I'm also young and I know how they want to create a myth about things. Like almost everyone is atheist.
            Beyond ridiculous!
            I'm also young and most of the people I know in different environments agree that marriage is between a man and a woman.
            The ACP is doing what the AAP failed to do. Protect children. Unreal that people actually advocate a child be raised unnaturally. Cruel!
            But listen I'm not here to convince you. You did tell me that because I loved to be a mother I was the problem in this world. Nothing more irrational....

          • David Nickol

            The big lie here is that two people of the same sex can raise a kid just as good as a man and a woman. That implies that one sex is irrelevant.

            Would it be your argument that no same-sex couple could be better parents than any opposite-sex couple?

            Suppose I married a woman and had two daughters. Later, I realized I was gay and married a man. My ex-wife, and alcoholic, married a man who turned out to be a wife-beater and also sexually abused my two daughters. I and my "husband" decide that we should take custody of my two daughters to get them out of that home. Would you say my two daughters should remain with an alcoholic mother and a child-molester step-father because it is a "lie" that that "two people of the same sex can raise a kid just as good as a man and a woman"?

          • Mila

            The problem here would be that the husband was an abuser and alcoholic not that he was straight. The same scenario is applicable to homosexual partners in that case who aside from possibly being abusive and alcoholic deprive the kids from what should be the right, a mother and a father.

          • David Nickol

            But in my hypothetical story, my husband and I are not alcoholics or child abusers, we are just two respectable gay men. And I am the father of the girls. Are you really saying that my daughters would not be better off living with me and my partner?

            Please answer the question I posed above: Would it be your argument that no same-sex couple could be better parents than any opposite-sex couple? Is the gender of two people raising a child the only thing that matters?

            Are all opposite-sex couples guaranteed to be better parents than any conceivable same-sex couple?

          • Mila

            I'm not saying you are bad people at all, but don't you think your girls would be better if they had a mother who was not an alcoholic or abusive, etc? Wouldn't you want your girls to have a mother? I'm a woman and I know how important it was to have a mother in my life. No substitute for my mother.
            We should strive to give the children what they need the most. If the situation is bad, then I wouldn't want them in that situation, but at the same time I wouldn't want them in another bad situation either.
            I have a gay brother who actually agrees with me. His partner forever wanted to adopt, but my brother always rejected the idea.
            Kids are vulnerable, we need to leave our desires, our inclinations, and wants aside and completely forget we exist for them.

          • William Davis

            Does the political left engage in misinformation and deception? Absolutely. I call them out on it when I can. The left, however, does not present itself as the voice of God on earth, however. This is the core of why the Church should be held to a much higher standard. One thing you have failed to do is present any evidence to support your position. Criticizing the scientific method is not evidence. I'd present more evidence about deception from the ACP, but I don't think it matters at this point.

            But listen I'm not here to convince you. You did tell me that because I loved to be a mother I was the problem in this world. Nothing more irrational....

            What are you here then, I'm curious, do you know? I'm here for two reasons. The first is to learn, the second it to help other learn. Multiple minds coming together in honest and open discussion is great for everyone. The more diverse the point of view, the better. The discussion has to be honest, deception and misrepresentation ruin it. I challenge you to quote where I said you were part of the problem with the world because you loved to be a mother. I said you are part of the problem because you don't care if other women can't do something, simply because you don't want to. It should be the priority of every moral and just person to defend the rights of others, whether or not you want the right, or completely agree with what you are doing. I have already stated I support the right of the RCC to refuse to allow gay people to adopt from their orphanages. Why do you slap away an extended hand, then add deceptive groups to the mix (who do absolutely nothing to directly help children, unlike the MASSIVE amount of work done by the READ AAP).

          • William Davis

            Thank you very much for bringing the disaster that is the ACP to our attention. The RCC rests on intentional deception I see. Completely repulsive, unethical, and immoral.

          • Joe Ser

            The facts are that children have a right to their biologic parents and fare much better in an intact real family.

          • Doug Shaver

            The facts are that children have a right to their biologic parents and fare much better in an intact real family.

            That is not a fact. My own childhood is evidence that it's not a fact.

          • Joe Ser

            There are always exceptions.

          • Doug Shaver

            When I say "X is better than Y," and I know there are exceptions, I append the word "usually" or something synonymous.

          • Doug Shaver

            However, with homosexuals an additional burden/problem is added.

            Society puts that burden on them with its bigotry. When society creates a problem, society can make the problem go away.

          • Joe Ser

            Lowering the bar further with homosexual parenting is your argument?

          • Mila

            See below how someone can steep so low as to think 3 parents is ok and the manufacture of 3 DNA embryos should be done to swap genetic disorders. Do they realize the monsters they have become?

          • Mike

            oh that's insane too!

            i want a CERTIFICATE from the gov identifying the ppl who are the result of 3 parents so i can make an informed decision or my kids can about who to marry - should be like a medical cert that says so and so is a carrier of this or that gene.

          • cminca

            Savage and his husband (not "husband") adopted the child of a homeless and drug using girl. They have tried to keep the girl, and ultimately the child's biological father, in the picture. It is all outlined in one of Savage's books.

            Seem like you got a little heated there Mike. It also seems like you are dodging the questions. Would you agree to a pill as a cure for heterosexuality? Or being black? Or being Catholic? Somehow I think not......

            The Church says homosexuality is a disordered form of sexuality. And the church is WRONG.

          • Mike

            no i think the church is right about human sexuality especially about homosexuality but we disagree.

            btw religion skin color have nothing to do with an inability to be attracted to ppl of the opposite sex - the former have no bearing on the basic functions of a human being the latter does entirely.

            ok we've taken up enough space on this topic. take care and all the best.

          • William Davis

            LOL

          • George

            a male cannot "unite" with another male. so what? who cares?

          • Mike

            so what? who cares?

            this pretty much sums up the new atheism doesn't it?

          • George

            the fact is, you don't have a good answer for me. you don't have a good reason to nose into the personal lives of consenting adults. you want to characterize those questions as some kind of defeatism, a lethargy, an irresponsible passivity. well they are not. I'm dead serious in asking so what and who cares. this is not some burnt out, tune-out hippy anarchy attitude, it's an interrogation into just what informed consensual sex is to you and to others.

          • Mike

            ok we disagree but take care and let's catch up again.

          • George

            you realize that there are billions of things you and I can do every day that don't produce children? and those activities aren't breaking down the foundations of society!

            the great irony is that it is in fact the catholic rhetoric against informed consensual homosexuality that reduces humans to mere body parts. "the parts don't fit" they shout on their radio interviews as if it's some brilliant insight. "an exit is not an entrance" as if that has some bearing on people and their families. and it's all assuming particular activities that do carry some risk, are the ONLY practices that occur.

            here's the news. people with same sex attraction, who live that lifestyle, are not stupid. they know how to take care of themselves, to the same degree of pretty much anyone else. heterosexuals are also capable of engaging in physically risky sex and they can choose different activities to avoid damage. (to be fair, the church complains about that too.)

          • Mike

            i know and i hear you but we're getting away from the topic of the post now.

          • Doug Shaver

            this pretty much sums up the new atheism doesn't it?

            No, it doesn't. Not even closely.

          • Mike

            fair enough but luke keeps saying it's nothing but not believing in any gods which to me doesn't really mean much but then again for me that would very strange whereas for him it feels right.

          • Doug Shaver

            Atheism is just not believing in any gods. About the only new thing about the so-called new atheism is the attention it's been getting. It's the probably the first time any books defending atheism have gotten onto the best-seller lists.

            As for whether it means anything to not believe in God, that depends on what it means to believe In God.

          • Doug Shaver

            some ppl do not want to live this lifestyle and appreciate the churches support.

            I have never wanted to be homosexual and have never needed anybody's support to avoid being one. I cannot imagine why any heterosexual would need any support.

          • Mike

            bc hetero and homo are not 2 sides of the same coin but that's another topic. take care.

          • Doug Shaver

            but that's another topic.

            Oh, really? I challenge you to justify an unsupported assertion and you accuse me of trying to change the subject?

          • Mike

            no i just don't want to get into it now;i don't think you were changing the subject.

      • Not everyone wants to be attracted to the same sex though?

        True. For example, I don't.

        I wonder, if there was a heterosexual man who really wanted to be attracted to other men. Maybe we could set up an organization to help him out with that?

        If it's true that gays are more prone to violence, etc., might it be for the same reason blacks are statistically more likely to commit violent crimes? Namely, that much of society tends to marginalize and mistreat them, because of both latent and overt prejudice?

        • Mike

          why do you suppose that everyone "just is" heterosexual or homosexual? don't you know that sexuality is fluid and generally "settles" in "around" the teenage years?

          why are you insinuating that gay ppl are in some ways more prone to violence? and what on earth would that have to do with "blacks" being more violent?

          if you're asking about societal pressures i can assure you that i live in one of the most gay friendly places on EARTH! where the mere mention of the word gets everyone excited and overflowing with praise and we almost break out into song! and yet i have personally know gay men who've been very depressed...sometimes not everything can be blamed on the "other" in this case ppl with traditional values.

          • why do you suppose that everyone "just is" heterosexual or homosexual? don't you know that sexuality is fluid and generally "settles" in "around" the teenage years?

            Easy. I don't. I suspect it's for most people a continuum. I didn't choose to be straight. I know people who I am sure did not choose to be gay. But I've also met people who are more on the continuum. Some are attracted to both, some to neither.

            why are you insinuating that gay ppl are in some ways more prone to violence?

            Well, because someone named Carl Olson said, I quote, "even though there is plenty of evidence that homosexuals are far more prone to violence, abuse, instability, depression, and suicide.", he said it in this article, and he cited the very footnote we are discussing as evidence for this claim.

            and what on earth would that have to do with "blacks" being more violent?

            I'd make the friendly suggestion that you re-read the article, specifically the portion connected to footnote 11, and then reread this entire comment thread. After you do this, please think carefully about the following question: If gays are indeed more prone to violence, might the cause for that be related to the cause for blacks being more likely to commit violent crimes?

            Just something to think about. If, after this effort, you don't see the connection, don't worry about it. But I'd encourage you to look for one.

          • Mike

            i think your reading into his point your own political biases. look i don't know where you live but i live in a very large city in the NE where gayness is over the top accepted celebrated ad nausea and traditional christianity is considered a quaint artifact and yet i can assure you that the gay population here especially young ppl is hurting alot! blaming ppl for holding traditional values for the mountain of pain and hurt that that community will have to come to terms with does not help anyone.

            some ppl believe it or not do have some influence on the development of their sexuality; some ppl are more open from the get go some are more bashful some are more "sensual" some are more "asexual" - looking back we'd all say we didn't choose anything but there is some sense in which we "volunteer" for certain experiences - i've known ppl who were sort of into polyamory some who wouldn't think of it and some who were wild and crazy but settled down i also personally know a women who was doing her masters in feminist studies was a hard core dyke activist, my wife and i were asked to be part of her "wedding" to her girlfriend when she met an english ex pat and is now a stay at home mother of 2 living in paris france and has a lab and runs yoga classes for other yuppie ex pats.

            either way it doesn't matter the subject of human sexuality as a phenomenon is i think a proper subject for scientific investigation; whether some ppl can change their orientation whether no one can or whatever is a q for science imho - the value is another q entirely.

          • I cannot but apply my own political biases. I can try to recognize and adjust for them. When I read your response, frankly, I see similarities with the response from certain racist organisations and people, that white-on-black racism is ended (in fact, it's switched to black-on-white racism) as evidenced by all of these black student groups and Black History Month, etc. Then, after making this argument, racist groups will look at black crime statistics, and point out that blacks are still vastly overrepresented in the violent crimes statistics. Therefore, they argue, blacks are by nature more prone to violence. This seems to closely parallel your argument that gays are hurting more by nature.

            I think that homophobia is still a problem everywhere. Arkansas, New England, San Francisco. This uneven social dynamic is what in large part produces these tragically skewed statistics.

            I do think, along with you, that many questions raised by homosexuality in society are biological and social science questions. As a scientific matter, do you think you could change your sexuality? Do you think you could become attracted to other men? If so, what do you think will be necessary to bring that about?

          • Mike

            "blacks are by nature more prone to violence"

            Paul i have no idea where you live but that is absurd i've never heard that argument and i am familiar with many conservative voices! maybe that is more of a reflection of your particular culture than anything else.

            gay ppl are NOT by nature anything - homosexual acts and a particular lifestyle that is overly represented in the gay culture are inherently more risky but that's another topic.

            i believe that sexuality per se is a biological "thing" so if you don't have any sex drive there's something physical wrong but the object of that erotic desire is i think mostly psychological and formed by probably all experiences since even being a baby so i think orientation is not genetic but genes for things like "temperment" or "risk aversion" or other traits like that may "predispose" a person or "incline" them in one direction or another or somewhere in between.

            i don't think i could now be turned on by other men but if i spent time in jail say or if my general life changed i think it is possible that my "tastes" would move somewhat - how much who knows but i don't believe anyone "is" "straight" or "gay". i can tell you that if it started happening to me by itself so to speak i'd go for therapy and try anything to "stave" it off. BUT also remember i have value reasons for not wanting to do those things as i believe them to be undignified etc. etc. and generally immoral but if some one doesn't view things that way they'll be more likely to change i think; our values i think have some influence on what we find appealing and what we don't....also patterns can establish for anything it seems so some times forcing a type of behavior like quitting smoking although hard can sometimes result in "success".

          • I take it that your answer to my question is that jail time might give you an attraction to other men.

            Concerning the connections I see between statistical claims about blacks and statistical claims about gays, the topic of the footnote, your responses perplex me. You don't seem to even be able to see the connection. It's like it's invisible to you. Interestingly, your inability to perceive the connection may be due to your conservative religious bias. Since I'm a secular liberal, I may well suffer from similar kinds of blind-spots (involving different connections), and of course haven't noticed them.

            I'll try to think about a better way to notice and reveal these blind spots in the future. If I come up with something in the next few days, can I try it out with you here to see if it works?

          • Mike

            jail time? maybe i don't see why not i am not a machine and it's conceivable that things might change at least temporarily i don't know - like i keep saying this seems to be established science that human sexuality is not fixed in some ppl maybe even in many ppl or most (plus studies of jail do seem to confirm that at least temporary attraction/eroticism does happen). But again remember i have Values reasons too whereas many ppl like you say or other secular liberals see nothing at all "wrong" with same sex attraction and acts so maybe for you say the move would be much easier.

            i don't deny there is a feed back mechanism in both instances but to say there is nothing intrinsically problematic with activities that are risky makes no sense to me.

            not sure what you mean in trying out something but feel free to send me a note anytime!

            gracias for the exchange!

          • Doug Shaver

            don't you know that sexuality is fluid and generally "settles" in "around" the teenage years?

            I don't know that. How do you know it?

          • Mike

            i think that good objective science will hopefully be done in the coming decades and we'll learn alot more about human eroticism in general.

          • Joe Ser

            That is exactly what the former APA president was getting at. No real research was done and the APA became politically correct. He stated that the plea for real research is now coming from inside the homosexual community themselves.

          • Joe Ser

            Worth watching

            Dr. Julie Harren Hamilton - Homosexuality 101

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=fD426lYvP7U

          • Doug Shaver

            There is much we don't know yet, but in due course we will come to know it.

          • Joe Ser

            A science of the gaps argument? :)

  • Gray

    Some things Graying actually said without Olson having to put words into his mouth.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=grayling+christianity

    • carlericolson

      Stop slandering me, please. You're giving atheists and the Gray family a bad name.

      • Luke Cooper

        I think you've slandered homosexuals. Will you apologize for that or at least address my above comment about citing biased sources?

        • Mike

          you seem like a very earnest person luke but this moral preening is a bit much don't you think?

          • Luke Cooper

            Oh, you know, I'm just standing up for equality and human rights is all--no big deal, right? Any other marginalized groups you think I shouldn't advocate for?

          • Mike

            you really believe in your own hype don't you?

          • Luke Cooper

            My own hype? Please explain.

          • Mike

            oh geez you're too much! you sound like a freshman convert to the new atheism that's all...very earnest very innocent!

          • Luke Cooper

            Am I not allowed to be passionate? I doubt my influence, but I am trying to make a change. I don't see why that's a laughing matter. I hope you wouldn't have thought this about any civil rights advocates, past or present. And for the record, I don't consider myself a "new atheist" and I'm hardly a recent deconvert from Christianity.

          • Mike

            ok fair enough you want to change things fine that's good actually that's what we catholics want to do too.

          • cminca

            Actually Mike the point of the article is that Catholics DON'T want to change.

          • Mike

            we want to develop not change per se but i catch your drift.

        • Mike

          "homosexuals"? really? don't you mean gays and lesbians or just gay ppl? how many actual gay ppl have you known in your life?

          • Luke Cooper

            What about the term homosexual don't you understand, Mike? I know quite a few homosexuals. How many do you think I need to know?

          • Mike

            it sounds like you're talking about a clinical sample not people - gay ppl are not just "homosexuals".

          • Luke Cooper

            Nor are you just a Catholic. Do I give you a hard time for calling yourself one? It's a term that describes one's sexual orientation. That's it.

          • Mike

            oh yeah well you forgot the LBTQ! just kidding! LOL

          • Luke Cooper

            Is this a joke to you?

          • Mike

            the acronym is a joke! not the ideology.

          • Luke Cooper

            Why is the acronym a joke?

          • Mike

            bc it's always changing and now it includes things like questioning, "queer" and other things as well i think - but if sexuality is fixed how can someone be questioning; it's just a jumbled mess of politics imho not good science.

          • Luke Cooper

            You just said elsewhere that sexuality is fluid. Now you're implying that it's fixed, because why couldn't people question their sexual orientation, otherwise? Which is it? What do you mean by "good science"?

          • Mike

            no i am not they are they say you are "this" and that's it; whereas the best research i've seen seems to indicate that orientation is not fixed full stop...i predict you'll see more "switching" even by men in the future.

          • Luke Cooper

            Cite your sources, Mike.

          • Mike

            you're incorrigible!

          • Luke Cooper

            I'm incorrigible because I ask you to back up your claims?

          • Mike

            lol stop you're so EARNEST AND SINCERE it's killing me!

          • David Nickol

            it's just a jumbled mess of politics imho not good science

            It is not intended as science.

            but if sexuality is fixed how can someone be questioning

            It is really not terribly rare for a person to be confused about his or her sexuality. As virtually everyone should know, many people are not exclusively homosexual or exclusively heterosexual, but somewhere in between. Also, setting up a spectrum with exclusively heterosexual on one end, bisexual in the middle, and exclusively homosexual on the other end probably gives you a way to classify most people, but not everyone will stay on one spot in that spectrum, nor will everyone have any spot on the spectrum at all. (Some people may be asexual, for example.)

            A noted psychologist and sexologist (if I remember correctly, it was Dr. John Money) once said there are as many sexual orientations as there are people.

          • Mike

            WE AGREE!!! i am being serious.

    • Peter

      I listened to Grayling's interview "Against all Gods" and he made the absurd connection between belief in God and belief in fairies. Belief in a Creator is grounded in the appearance of a universe which is designed, and in the absence of evidence that the universe is not what it plainly appears to be.

      Grayling, however, misses the point by confusing the overall design of the cosmos with individual biological design which is affected by local conditions.
      If those are his arguments against God, how seriously ought we take his arguments against Christianity?

  • Ignatius Reilly

    even though there is plenty of evidence that homosexuals are far more prone to violence, abuse, instability, depression, and suicide.

    I wonder why that is. I find this sentence completely and utterly despicable. Of course marginalized groups will experience those things.

    • When simplistic definitions are plugged into facile syllogisms and defended by an appeal that all other moral approaches will unavoidably place us on slippery slopes ... there is so much missing from that type of reasoning that, at best, it's sad, at its worst, it's frightening, and somewhere in between, it's terribly offensive, not just depersonalizing but dehumanizing. Yet that's what happens when it's argued that the definitions and principles prohibiting homoerotic behavior are the only thing standing in the way of pedophilia, bestiality, etc That's what happens when it's argued that the definitions and principles prohibiting morning after pills are the only thing standing in the way of slavery and genocide. It's neither the practicing homosexual (LGBorT, for that matter) nor the woman taking emergency contraception who frightens me but that type of reasoning.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        This is where I would argue that Religion fails to be pragmatic. Most Catholics seem to be focused on apologizing for the Church proper, who they seem to think has never done anything wrong, but they miss all the indirect ways that Catholicism has inspired moral evil.
        '
        I could not imagine people making these types of philosophical arguments without a dogmatic belief system or a selfish gain. Nor do I understand the blind belief that the Church has never caused any harm. The Church may have not commissioned the children's crusade, but she certainly inspired it. Priests may have a rate of pedophilia commensurate with the general privation, but the offense was committed by care takers of souls making it all the more grievous. Of course, there are plenty of people who are inspired to do tremendous good because of the message of Christianity, but that does not mean that there weren't others who were inspired to do evil or foolish things.

        I had intended to write a longer comment to this affect, but I distracted myself by arguing with dogmatists and apologists for crusading.

    • David Nickol

      I am stunned that I somehow overlooked both that part of the OP and this message calling it to our attention. Carl Olson gives a link to the American College of Pediatricians in note 11, but the link does not work. Here is a correct link. The abstract for the article is as follows:

      ABSTRACT: Are children reared by two individuals of the same gender as well adjusted as children reared in families with a mother and a father? Until recently the unequivocal answer to this question was “no.” Within the last decade, however, professional health organizations,1 academics, social policymakers and the media have begun asserting that prohibitions on parenting by same-sex couples should be lifted. In making such far-reaching, generation-changing assertions, any responsible advocate would rely upon supporting evidence that is comprehensive and conclusive. Not only is this not the situation, but also there is sound evidence that children exposed to the homosexual lifestyle may be at increased risk for emotional, mental, and even physical harm.

      What is the American College of Pediatricians? The title is impressive sounding. According to Wikipedia:

      The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a socially conservative association of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals in the United States. The College was founded in 2002 by a group of pediatricians including Joseph Zanga, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as a protest against the AAP's support for adoption by gay couples. The group's membership has been estimated at between 60 and 200 members. (In contrast, the AAP has more than 60,000 members.) ACPeds describes itself as "a national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children... committed to fulfilling its mission by producing sound policy, based upon the best available research, to assist parents and to influence society in the endeavor of childrearing."

      Zanga has described ACP as a group "with Judeo-Christian, traditional values that is open to pediatric medical professionals of all religions who hold true to the group's core beliefs: that life begins at conception; and that the traditional family unit, headed by a different-sex couple, poses far fewer risk factors in the adoption and raising of children." The organization's view on parenting is at odds with the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical and child-welfare authorities, which hold that sexual orientation has no correlation with the ability to be a good parent and to raise healthy and well-adjusted children. A number of prominent researchers have complained that ACPeds has mischaracterized or misused their work to advance its agenda.

      • William Davis

        In the age of misinformation, we must be very careful of sources. It is no coincidence that the naming of this "expert for hire" group has a similar name to a respectable organization.

    • I missed this too. I'm sorry, but now I am truly angry. This comment is homophobic and wrong. There is no such evidence and any amount of careful research would have shown it so, as David Nickol has done below. This demonstrates a lack of seriousness and flat out bias on the part of the author and the editor. Shame.

      I don't know about in US, but in Canada, homosexuals are considered an equity seeking group that should be protected from discrimination. Can you imagine making such a careless comments on the basis of race? To suggest that black people should not be allowed to be parents because of a (wrong) conception that black people are more violent!? No one is telling the Catholic Church it has to provide babies to gay couples, but if the Catholic Church wants to be in the adoption business it cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Your faith that gay people are disordered is no excuse. If you don't like it, you are welcome to focus on praying and dealing with sacraments and telling us you don't know if atheists go to heaven.

      And all of this from the Catholic perspective. The people who brought you actual child molestation in Canada, Ireland, the United States and more. Who brought you 300,000 babies being trafficked in Spain, their mothers told the babies were dead. And all too common stories like the one portrayed in Philomena. From a perspective that venerates a book that literally has a rule in that disobedient children are to be stoned to death!

      I expect an apology for this. My wife's best man is marrying his boyfriend this year. He and his fiancé are the kindest, gentlest, people I know. How dare you for a second suggest they would be poor parents, more likely to expose children to violence and suicide. Especially given the history of abuse of children in the care of Catholic organizations. Shame.

  • Ignatius Reilly

    He scorns a "monolithic outlook" that demands conformity, even while insisting that all people must embrace homosexual acts as "natural"--this based on the very dubious assertion that such acts are as natural of "fact" as "being female, or black, or white, or heterosexual"--as though external physical characteristics (gender, skin color, etc.) should be confused with actions based on free will and moral judgments.

    Tolerance for differing viewpoints and ways of life is the opposite of a "monolithic outlook".

    (On what basis, I wonder, might Grayling condemn pedophiles or peddlers of pornography featuring children?)

    One word. Consent.

    • Mila

      Consent? for child pornography? So if the child consents to child pornography is ok? I just want to understand this. I hope you didn't mean that but I'm just making sure.

      • Ignatius Reilly

        Grayling would condemn pedophiles or peddlers of child pornography, because children cannot consent. Point is that Olson's question is easily and trivially answered.

        • carlericolson

          You've got the trivial part down. The rest is suspect.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Trivial meaning simple to answer. I was using it as mathematicians do when a proposition is so easily proven that it is not worth writing out.

      • William Davis

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent

        There is solid evidence that sexual acts on children can damage them psychologically, there is harm done here, but consent is really the issue.

        I know from personal experience that teaching children about hell can be psychologically damaging (depending on how its done), but I don't think it is the right of the state to tell parents what to teach their kids. I can still condemn it as morally wrong.

      • David Nickol

        So if the child consents to child pornography is ok?

        Those below the age of consent cannot legally give consent. So children can't consent to appear in child pornography, even if they do so "willingly."

        • Mila

          I know that and that's why I asked him. But it was later explained what he meant by that word. Thanks

  • Hipshot

    Secondly, what to do with Naziism and (especially) Marxism/Communism, the two most murderous ideologies of the past century?

    In response to this rather bedraggled apologetic trope, let me note that when Stalin and Hitler (and Mao, and the various Kims, etc.) killed their victims, they were content to leave them dead and at peace. At no time did any of these murderers advocate that their alleged enemies be kept in a state of eternal torment.

    • cminca

      Hitler and Stalin killed for political, not ideological reasons.

      Hitler killed Jews, Gypsies, the developmentally and physically challenged, and homosexuals because he thought they were a risk to the cultural and physical purity of the German race. Not because they didn't pray to the same God. Intellectuals and others (including clerics) were rounded up because they threatened the security of the state--not because they prayed to a different deity.

      Same with Stalin--he killed for political reasons.

      Atheism isn't murderous. You have to go back to the pograms of Russia or the 30 years war to find a conflict based solely on ideology.

  • cminca

    "Seven centuries after the beginnings of classical civilisation in the Greece of Pericles and Socrates, an oriental superstition, consisting of an amalgam of dying and resurrecting god myths and myths about the impregnation of mortal maids by deities, captured the Roman Empire. Such was the beginning of Christianity.'

    OK so far.

    This is where it becomes tricky:

    By the accident of its being the myth chosen by Constantine for his purposes, it plunged Europe into the dark ages for the next thousand years - scarcely any literature or philosophy, and the forgetting of the arts and crafts of classical civilisation (quite literally a return to daub and wattle because the engineering required for towers and domes was lost)....

    The word "it" refers back to "Christianity" (the noun, the subject of the sentence). This is where Grayling goes things wrong. CHRISTIANITY didn't plunge Europe into the dark ages. Christianity is a philosophy. There were multiple social and economic reasons why Europe collapsed.

    "....before a struggle to escape the church's narrow ignorance and oppression saw the rebirth of classical learning, and its ethos of inquiry and autonomy, in the Renaissance."

    Grayling has used now switched the subject of the sentence from CHRISTIANITY to THE CHURCH.
    The Catholic Church is a large multinational corporation which exists--like all bureaucracies--to enrich itself and its elite. The Catholic Church may not have started as that, but that is what it evolved into by the 4th century (as evidenced in the editing process the bible went through at that time.) Bureaucrats hate change. The bureaucrats of the CC are no different.
    Whatever you think about Grayling's statements about the root of Christianity, he is correct that Constantine's adoption of Christianity spread it through the Roman world.
    Grayling got his pronouns mixed up and got it wrong---a philosophy didn't plunge Europe into the dark ages.
    Grayling was correct--the bureaucratic hold the CC had on medieval Europe's had to be challenged before the Renaissance could occur. Followed by the Reformation. Followed by the Enlightenment.

  • Papalinton

    A C Grayling is perhaps one of the most erudite and internationally renowned of contemporary philosophers. Olson's theologized rendition of history does little to counter Grayling's account. Olson, ironically, augments and fortifies the Grayling perspective in that his Four-Point critique of Grayling amount to little more than an apologetical diatribe.

    Take the first point: "He conflates fascism and Communism with Christianity, even though fascism and Communism hated Christianity for the same reasons he dislikes it, ...."

    There is no conflation of Fascism, Communism and Christianity. It is a statement of fact, one that is slowly being recognised, as the mantle of Christian hegemonic thought diminishes in influence within the broader contemporary community. Fascism and Communism did indeed hate Christianity. Why? Because the three are competing ideologies founded on the principle of totalitarianism:

    "We must face [the fact] that the Church itself has an ineradicable totalitarian principle within it, and that, therefore, wherever the Church is confronted by another totalitarian claim, there is bound to be conflict. . . . [T]otalitarianism, though it may express itself in dictatorship, can and does exist in other forms and even in democratic countries. The enemy for the Christian is not Fascism, Nazism, or Communism as such, but the claims of a godless, pagan, or entirely secular society, whatever form it may take." [Eric Fenn]

    THIS PIECE provides some very interesting perspectives on the importance of christian totalitarian thought, particularly in respect of: "Never did the ecumenical Protestants at Oxford condemn totalitarianism per se, but only the manifestations of it that failed to consider God as the supreme absolute with a total claim on man."

    Olson fails at the first hurdle. I'm simply too tired to chase Olson's rabbit down into the labyrinthine burrow of religiously-motivated obduracy.

    I wish I could be fairer but any attempt to do so would step over the line into gratuitous accommodationism.

  • David Nickol

    Although I don't see the justification for it in the OP, there are a lot of messages in this thread devoted to whether the Catholic Church has ever changed a "dogma." The single most indispensable book on the topic is John T. Noonan's A Church That Can and Cannot Change: The Development of Catholic Moral Teaching. Of course, the problem with books is you actually have to read them. :P I would say that Noonan makes a solid case that slavery was long accepted and then definitively condemned, and that usury (the lending of money for interest, not just exorbitant interest) was definitively condemned and is now accepted. Whether we're in the realm of dogma there is debatable.

    As I have argued many times here, what I consider an extraordinary change has taken place in Catholic teaching within my lifetime, and that is the Catholic attitude toward and understanding of the Jewish people. Although I have not read it yet, based on what I have read about it, I think a very important book on this topic is From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965

  • Grayling's ignosticism self-subverts [I've already shown my work in dispatching similarly minded positivists here, who also fail to make their normative case against religions.] His militantly atheistic screeds are as far from being the received view in modern philosophy as the birth control encyclical is from being the received teaching among catholics. No one lacking all merit in their views, his moral discourse contributes much to our humanist causes. Otherwise, YAWN!

  • Howard

    Of course, part of the problem is you are arguing with a Brit who still worships at the state-erected altar of anti-Catholicism. You have as much chance for a rational conversation with him as you would on an ISIS blog.

    • Michael Murray

      Any chance we could have a civil conversation and maybe even avoid the ad hominem fallacy.

      Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted.

      • Howard

        Well, delete me, then, Michael. Maybe it is 100% coincidence that Grayling holds the positions he does; maybe it has nothing to do with the culture in which he was raised and the professional culture in which he immerses himself. If so, it is a remarkably consistent coincidence. Whether it was a coincidence or not, his remarks were, as he himself admits, polemical; they were never a part of a "serious and respectful dialogue", and it is a waste of time to treat them as such.

        • Michael Murray

          Well, delete me, then, Michael.

          You don't seriously think I'm a moderator do you ? That is funny. I'm just not doing this atheist thing properly.

          • Howard

            No, just the kind who likes to pretend he's the moderator. By the Flame Warriors standard, you appear to be Nanny. Not that any of this matters. An argument between polemicists is all about "rallying the base", not about persuading someone who disagrees.

          • Michael Murray

            I think you have missed the point of my comment completely. I really don't think Grayling is in need of my nannying. I just like to see if the moderators will ever live up to the websites claim that this place is about dialogue rather than "rallying the base".

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Howard seems to be a thoughtful theist:

            https://strangenotions.com/causality-and-radioactive-decay/#comment-1842314479

            It does seem like theists can say whatever they want without getting any reprimand whatsoever.

          • Michael Murray

            It does seem like theists can say whatever they want without getting any reprimand whatsoever.

            Indeed. A theist comparing an atheist to ISIS is just dandy it seems.

          • Doug Shaver

            That's one of the nice things about being a reasonable skeptic. We don't need a level playing field in order to win.

        • Doug Shaver

          Maybe it is 100% coincidence that Grayling holds the positions he does; maybe it has nothing to do with the culture in which he was raised and the professional culture in which he immerses himself.

          In that respect, do you think he differs from from any Christian apologist?

          • Howard

            Of course not. Neither side is entering this as an attempt to discover an unknown truth, but only at most in an effort to persuade the other side -- which is a pointless exercise when neither side will budge. Sometimes it might be interesting as a purely intellectual exercise, or as a way to refine one's own thinking, but all the useless posturing becomes tiresome.

          • Doug Shaver

            but all the useless posturing becomes tiresome.

            Yes, when it is just posturing. But sometimes one or both sides are making a good-faith effort to offer reasoned arguments for what they believe. Whether that is a pointless exercise depends less on whether either of them could change their mind than on whether someone watching the debate might learn something they don't already know.

          • Howard

            Speaking of pointless exchanges, see this thread.

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't believe that what I'm doing here is pointless. Your personal judgment may differ.

  • Has Grayling written an assessment of the period from the 4th to the 12th centuries that was not "brief, conversational, rhetorical and polemical only"—and is also worth reading? If so, I shall be happy to look it up.

  • Van Parkman

    Thanks for turing me on to Dawson. It seems as if the world, including the academic world, has forgotten him. I will be seeing Grayling tomorrow and plan to ask him a little question.