Monday, April 19, 2010

British Atheist Comes To The Pope's Defense

A British atheist author who has some common sense, unlike Hitchens, Dawkins, et al. who want to "arrest the pope". Here, Brendan O'Neill is quite rational.
A few snips:
It’s worth asking why otherwise fairly intelligent thinkers get so dementedly exercised over the pope and the Catholic Church. What exactly is their beef? What are they objecting to? Very few (if any) of the pope-hunters were raised Catholic, so this isn’t about personal vengeance for some perceived slight by a priest or nun. And despite their current lowdown, historically illiterate attempt to equate a priest fondling a child with a state’s attempt to obliterate an entire people – under the collective tag ‘crime against humanity’ – the truth is that some of these pope-hunters don’t really think child abuse is the worst crime in the world. In 2006, Dawkins criticised ‘hysteria about paedophilia’ and said that, even though he was the victim of sexual abuse at boarding school, he would defend his abusive former teachers if ‘50 years on they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers’. Yet now he wants to put abusive priests on a par with genocidaires.

Also, while of course one incident of child sexual abuse by a priest is one too many, it simply isn’t the case that the Catholic Church is a vast, institutionalised paedophile ring wrecking the lives of millions of children around the world. One pope-hunting columnist describes the Vatican as an ‘international criminal conspiracy to protect child rapists’, yet the facts and figures don’t bear that out. If these anti-pope crusaders really were interested in justice and equality, there are numerous other, even worse crimes and scandals that they might investigate and interrogate and try to alleviate.
Then he rightly gets to the reason behind all the madness.
Remember, this is an atheist.
The reason this crusade is so hysterical is because it is not really about the pope at all – it is about the New Atheists themselves. The contemporary pope-hunting springs from a secularist movement which feels incapable of asserting a sense of purpose or meaning in any positive, human-centred way – as the great atheists of old such as Marx or Darwin might have done – and which instead can only assert itself negatively, in contrast to the ‘evil’ of religion, by posturing against the alleged wickedness of institutionalised faith. Continue reading.
Tip O' the hat to Carl.

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