An Open Letter to Jennifer Fulwiler

Dear Jennifer

I have this sick habit of occasionally tuning into Catholic Answers Live radio show (www.catholic.com). I see that you are one of their upcoming speakers, a self-declared “atheist” who has definitely turned into a serious Catholic.

I find this whole show just fascinating, in a very similar way to watching a train crash. But of particular interest is when they talk about atheism as your upcoming show will do. In an effort to prepare a somewhat sensical question for your upcoming radio spot I listened to a few videos and read some of your posts about your “atheism” to Catholic conversion.

I put atheism in quotes not to demean but to suggest that your definition of atheism is like none I’ve ever encountered. It confuses me how your mom could be a Catholic and your dad explicitly reject the label atheist, yet you claim to be raised as such. But that withstanding, your view of atheism seems to be just a feeling that there is no god. Sure you say that at the time you saw no evidence but it didn’t seem like you were looking for evidence of a god where they ought to be some (theodicy, life on earth, cosmology), nor did you seem to require evidence once you converted.   Your conversion hinges on an intuitive / emotional appeal to “there must be something greater than this” when you stared at your newborn baby-boy.

I want to say that I do sympathize with that feeling (more on that to come…).  But, as you often says in your own talks, wanting something to be true does not make it true.  Yet this is exactly the logical fallacy you commit in your conversion. You want absolute morality, you want your and your sons’ life to have eternal value — and so you adhere to a belief system that provides such unsubstantiated guarantees.

One key point I keep coming back to is this idea of your baby-boy not having any worth (you explicitly talk about how an adult pig would be more valuable than a human baby) or that the love between mother-and-child is but a chemical reaction. If the earth were to be destroyed today there would be no remains of it.

I think it is true that our human emotions are temporary experiences.  But does that necessarily make them any less valuable to us living in the present?  I think that bio-chemistry plays a very important role in human love — but does not “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”?.  In my humble opinion, understanding the scientific processes at work in our human experiences does not diminish the experience.  To me, it makes it even more wondrous.  I experienced the birth of a child as a Catholic and as an atheist.  Both experiences were wonderful.  But as an atheist I understood much more about the evolutionary processes that made my twin baby boy and girl possible (and why it was such an arduous experience for my spouse).  Understanding does not destroy experiencing, for me,  it enhances it.

Maybe a good analogy for Catholics is drinking the left-over communion wine after mass.  Does the fact we know biochemically the effect alcohol has on the human body make you enjoy the buzz any less?  Didn’t for me.

Love.  Ah, what a sweet thing.  We as human beings get to choose our own purposes and meaning and value.  Does a divine despot’s edict that love has value make it valuable?  Or is it the day-to-day lived out experience of love in human relationships what gives it meaning? That love is temporary gives it all the more preciousness.

Jennifer, I’m sorry.  I’m not buying what you’re selling for one second.  You say you were an atheist, and I don’t want to play the no-true-Scotsman fallacy, but you’re description of atheism is unlike any I’ve ever encountered.

I want to finish with my sympathies for your intuitive and emotional attraction to Catholicism.  Atheist fellowship, though we we’re slowly improving, quite frankly, sucks.  Some research suggests (though many are quite skeptical about methodology and accuracy) that regular church-goers live happier and maybe even longer lives and tend to give more to charity and other selfless causes.  I get that.  I really do.  But none of the above makes Catholicism or even theism true.  What it means is that me and my fellow atheists need to work together to make our community a better place.  The Clergy project is a great example, that so happens to feature many priests turned atheists, of helping out people who are struggling.  Atheists helping the homeless.  Humanist chaplaincy.  There is progress…

It’s absurd to force children to attend Catholic school

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/life/absurd+force+children+attend+Catholic+school/4400835/story.html

The title says it all.

Matt Dillahunty is awesome

http://blip.tv/file/4765419 jump to minute 39:00

It reflects so much of how I feel and what I hear from Christians.  When Matt talks about his family I start to tear up…

Catholics Come Home

http://www.catholicscomehome.org/

Stumbled across this…. i don’t know how long this advertising campaign has been going on for. I’ve personally never seen any of these ads.  They are beyond asanine. 

The first ad claims that the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization in the world — apparently they arrive at this conclusion by citing a study in which 5 years ago Catholic Charities USA were the 5th largest charity by total revenues in the US.  Other research suggests that only 12% of these funds actually come from Catholics, most of that money actually stems for government funding and fees for service  (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_15/b3778004.htm).  Then it spews nonsense about how Catholics are behind every good thing in the world like the scientific method and the laws of evidence.  Really!?!  I think Galileo might not agree on that.  And those witches really got fair trials based on evidence!

“For over 2,000 years, we have had an unbroken line of shepherds guiding the Catholic Church with love and truth, in a confused and hurting world.”

Where’s the laws of evidence for that belief?  The bible, which you just said you wrote!  How convenient.  Was it love that the leaders of the Church had in mind when they decided to cover up child abuse for many of those 2000 years?

The second ad claims that sin is an “addiction”, that we will be judged — well at least they’re honest about that part.  The church is all about judging and degrading others while they go about their evil cover-up of raping children.

And then this way of life stuff in the 3rd ad is such nonsense — like the Catholic Church has any claim to a healthy lifestyle.

The whole ad campaign seems so bombastic.  It eerily reminds me of those Mormon ads that used to be on TV all the time.

 I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t know how any person of good conscience can support this evil institution.

 

I heart Christopher Hitchens

 

“Religion attacks us in our deepest integrity by saying we wouldn’t be able to make a moral decision without it, and that a supernatural dictatorship is our only hope. That makes us all into serfs.”
Christopher Hitchens

Feel Superior to Both

I just can’t take it

When will the world wake up to these monsters?

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/580036-vatican-edict-in-1997-rejected-calls-to-report-priests-who-abused

I’m all about religious freedom. But when a religious organization has become a criminal cover-up organization it is time for the secular world to do the right thing and bring them down.

How is Ratzinger going to blame this one those evil secular atheists? This was 1997!!! It just makes me sick to think that they claim to have ANY moral authority, and that Ratzinger really thinks that Nazi’s were atheists, and that he blames this pedophile cover-up scandal on secularism, and that he continues to pontificate about how the real evil in this world is homosexuality and female priests.

How can anyone be a member of this evil organization???

I get email

From my religionist friend [my comments in red]:


Unfortunately, reason—clear reason—is something that escapes you. [You assert, without any knowable evidence, that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father and whose mother was a virgin can make you live forever if you eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree… yeah, you definitely have clear reason nailed down buddy!] I could respond to your blog, rife with theological and logical error , but I don’t see the point. [I call b.s. on that one -- give me list of my top ten theological and logical errors -- I am more than open to being shown where I'm wrong] I’ve tried. [no you haven't] There’s nothing left for me to do but love my XXXXX in whom I do indeed see Christ. [I'm pretty sure seeing things in people that aren't there is a sign of a mental disorder] Whether it is you, me or Hitler, we are all made in the image of God [the image of god is an evil Hitler-like dictator who tortures innocent people for having a different worldview – I guess we agree on more than I thought!]. There is the potential for good, divine good, in all of us (as well as for evil, ungodly evil). [oh so was it divine good that Yahweh had in mind when he told the Jews to "kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." Moses, Numbers 31:17-18] It is sin and rebellion that distorts that goodness. [I'd say the Christian obsession with sin is what deludes goodness. It's only the sin card that can equate women wanting to become priests with priests raping children] It is that potential for goodness and that desire for love (to love and be loved) that I saw that day, as I wrote in my blog. Jesus saw this when He looked at Zacchaeus, or Mary Magdalene, or Saul (St. Paul), or the Centurion who crucified Him. [Yes human potential is a cool thing!] They were all converted because someone could see their potential, and more importantly, give them the grace to find it: the potential to become sons and daughters of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. [No, our human potential is not archived by subjecting ourselves to a celestial despot to rule and dictate even our thoughts as though a divine North Korea]


I’ve already written you about those glimpses I’ve seen in you, the potential that lies within. When I spoke with you at xxxxx’s party, it was clear I was speaking to a hurting, confused, and angry man who was given a distorted and damaging view of God and religion. [another variant of the "you're only an atheist because you're angry at God" logical fallacy – I'm angry at people like you who pretend to speak in the name of their imaginary sky-daddy] Emotions like that can obscure logic and reason far more than the earth can obscure the sun from the moon. [I could turn this right back around, you only believe in Christianity because of the strong emotions you attach to it, and are blinded to the truth because of your feelings. This is the point of using science and reason – to help us see past our blinders] What can I do but simply love you and continually be a sign to you that what you have come to believe about God and Christianity is false? [I haven't come to believe anything about God and Christianity – I reject the claims made by theists like you – this is the definition of atheism] Atheism is an incredible deception because it leaves the one who embraces it blinded and self-deceived, convinced that they see better than anyone else when in fact they are more blind than even little children. [The "atheists know-it-all" logical fallacy. I'm not the one claiming to know the thoughts, words, deeds and intentions of the ultimate creator of the universe] I mean, Jesus came to earth, loved, healed, forgave, and ultimately gave His life. [Where is the evidence anything of this actually happened? The bibles are 2nd century hero worship propaganda. And don't give me Josephus – it's been thoroughly exposed as a Christian redaction] Even if He weren’t God [he wasn't], for the sake of argument, He [ibid] was a moral force that has shaped nations to the good ever since. [Another version of the we're a Christian nation fallacy. Such utter b.s., Christianity has given us 1000+ years of the dark ages, the end of whatever advances the Roman empire may have achieved, the destruction of one of the greatest treasures of human intellect, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, witch hunts, bloody wars, almost 2000 years of priestly abuse of children and theocratic rule by divine dictate. I'm so sick of Christian revitionalist history. And yes, I know they built some hospitals. Hardly balances the scales, does it?] That you claim this is a “height of evil that would make Hitler blush” says far more about you than Christianity. [The bible makes it very clear that "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. John 3:18" I do not believe in the name of God's one and only Son. Where am I going when I die? If the answer is hell than yes, Jesus is more evil than Hitler. ]


With love, XXXXX, I cannot argue with a fool. [Don't blame him for calling me a fool, his holy text started the name calling… Psalm 14:1-3 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good. The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one. The fool says, "There is no God", that's why he doesn't even try to do what's right…]



Merry Christmas.[Happy Solstice, the true reason for the season]
XXXXXXX