Why Religious Pluralism is Stupid

I have been taken to task by some commentors on this blog and elsewhere for my assertion that atheists are stupid. I wish to recant that statement. Referring to my post on Invincible Ignorance, anyone who isn’t Catholic or Orthodox is stupid–and it’s just a question of whether it’s invincible ignorance or just lack of education.

If a person insists on saying that the earth is flat, in spite of the scientific evidence to the contrary, we rightly call that person stupid.
If a person insists on saying the Sun revolves around the earth, in spite of the scientific evidence to the contrary, we rightly call that person stupid.
If a person insists on a literal interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis, in spite of both the scientific evidence to the contrary, and in spite of the fact that the Early Church Fathers didn’t interpret all aspects of the Old Testament literally, we rightly call that person stupid.

Yet if a person refuses to recognize that life begins at conception, in spite of the scientific evidence, we say that person has the right to his or her own opinion.
If a person insists that same sex attraction is normal, in spite of the fact that it is biologically impossible for people of the same sex to have sexual intercourse, and in spite of the fact that a genetically favorable trait should favor reproduction, we say that person has a right to his or her own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that there is one God, despite the fact that logic dictates the existence of one God (see Augustine, Aquinas, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, etc.), we say that person has the right to his or her own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that the one true God revealed Himself to Israel through numerous miracles that are historically documented, we say that person has a right to his or her own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that the Divine Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, revealing Himself by numerous well-documented miracles, culminating in His own resurrection from the dead, we say that person has a right to his own opinion.
If a person refuses to recognize that Jesus Christ established seven sacraments, as documented in Scripture and the Apostolic Fathers, or that He established His Church through the Apostles and their Successors, as documented in Scripture and the Apostolic Fathers, we say that person has the right to his or her own opinion.

The truths of the Catholic faith are as objectively true and as well-proven as any scientific fact or theory. The Church employs thorough methods to document miracles, and there is plenty of scientific observation and evidence to validate numerous miracles, from the sun dancing at Fatima to St. Pio’s stigmata to the Shroud of Turin and the tilma of Guadalupe.

That people refuse to accept the truth of these miracles is pure ignorance, or a refusal to accept plain fact as obstinate as the refusal to accept that the earth is round.

I’m sick to death of pussy-footing around the issue. When we, as Catholics, refuse to assert the absolute truth of our faith and concede it to be one option among a plurality of opinions, we do a disservice.

Now, no one should be killed for refusing to accept the Faith, just as no one should be killed for refusing to accept Darwinian evolution. It should not be a criminal offense to be ignorant of or refuse to accept the Truth. However, it *should* be a criminal offense to refuse to *teach* the truth. Just as schools are required to teach certain curricula about history and science, and just as parents are required to get their children educated about the basics of math, language, history and science, so too must children be educated in the historical and scientific truths of the Catholic faith, simply because they are true.

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14 responses to “Why Religious Pluralism is Stupid

  1. i”f a person refuses to recognize that life begins at conception, in spite of the scientific evidence,” What evidence?
    “If a person insists that same sex attraction is normal, in spite of the fact that it is biologically impossible for people of the same sex to have sexual
    intercourse, ” If it were impossible there would be far less people doing it!
    “If a person refuses to recognize that there is one God, despite the fact that logic dictates the existence of one God (see Augustine, Aquinas, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, etc.),” And what about the THOUSANDS of other philosophers whom you don’t name here, who take an entirely different “logical” view?
    “If a person refuses to recognize that the one true God revealed Himself to Israel through numerous miracles that are historically documented, ”
    They are NOT historically documented. They are recorded in a few tomes of dubious authorship. In any case, many people past and present can do miracles or magic, does that make them all God?

    The rest of your assertions are just that, assertions… Opinions. You do your argument no justice with such mind boggling arrogance and ignorance. I wonder who you are seeking to convince?

  2. Your first paragraph concerns facts, the earth being round etc. There is absolutely no good evidence, that I know of (I am a biochemist) that ‘life begins at contraception’. What is your evidence? As far as I can see there is little evidence that life can be defined, itself, aside from as an abstract concept. To say that conception is the point of life beginning shows a staggering ineptitude towards the explanatory nature of science – something like this is very, very difficult to explore, and even more so because there is a calibre of person out there trying to outlaw every avenue of scientific enquiry. I would very much like to know what your evidence is.

    The scientific basis for Catholicism is also something I have not encountered, up to now of course. I wonder what tenants of the Faith you are referring to, because as far as I can see there are very few precepts which would classify as nicely provable. You mention the sacraments, and of course these are established, but they only exist insofar as those who follow the worldwide church observe them, surely. There can be no scientific evidence for their existence, any more than there can be for the existence of Marxism. What scientific basis can there be for believing that Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, is now in heaven and able to intercede on the behalf of the living. Again, I would very much like to hear what you have to say.

  3. Thanks for three replies that illustrate my point . Do some actual research on the facts behind Fatima, the Shroud of Turin, Guadalupe, Padre Pio, Lourdes, and so many other cases. Then read the Catechism, Summa Theologiae, De Civitate Dei, Confessions, Pascal’s Pensees, Lewis’s _Mere Christianity_, Chesterton’s _Orthodoxy_, the Apostolic Fathers and Aristotle’s Metaphysics in their entirety. Then get back to me. No point in my wasting my time trying to explain what greater men than I have already explained. My whole point is that atheism is stupid because atheists refuse to read the texts and then just dismiss them as “discredited.”

    • That’s simply not good enough. Now I am not one of those people for whom the only possible truth is the scientifically determined, philosophy and theology are quite possibly avenues to truth as well. However, in *your* blog post above, you stated that Catholicism is just as empirically tested as ‘as any scientific fact or theory’. This strikes me as either a misunderstanding of the philosophy of science, or wilful ignorance in the face of facts.

      To compound this by a blatant logical fallacy, by appealing to authority; Aristotle (philosopher) and Lewis (author) are not scientific sources. Categorically. You then lazily insult your commentators by referring them to these sources, without even the slightest attempt to explain what you are taking from them.

      You use the word stupidity above, by I have to say yours and my definition of this differ, considerably.

  4. I wasn’t committing a logical fallacy. I wasn’t appealing to them as authorities, nor was I saying anything about science in that context. I was appealing to them as logical arguments for the existence of God that are irrefutable.
    You can empirically prove miracles, and the Church does so on a regular basis.
    FACTS:
    1. Doctors examined Padre Pio’s stigmata and could find no scientific explanation for them. The stigmata would appear on his hands in front of crowds, and were recorded on film doing so.
    2. Every year on the Orthodox Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, an Orthodox priest blesses the River Jordan, and it temporarily reverses its course.
    3. Fact: a few years ago, a Catholic priest in Poland found a red substance on a Host left over after Mass, and took it to a lab to have it analyzed. The lab found it to be human myocardial tissue.
    4. Facts: The tilma of Guadalupe has been subject to numerous attacks over the years and survived those attacks. The material the tilma is made of should have dissolved centuries ago–as exact replicas have always done. There is no scientific way to explain how the image got on the tilma–at least not with technology that would have been available to a hypothetical forger. The image on the tilma involves great detail, such that when magnified, the eyes show a photographic mirror image of the bishop and other men in the room.
    5. Facts: the much-touted carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin was discredited as coming from a contaminated sample. Seeds and pollen have been found in the Shroud that come from Palestinian plants and are dated to the first century AD. Like the tilma, there is no way to explain the Shroud’s image that would have been possible to a hypothetical Medieval forger. The facts that the image is a photographic negative and that it is three-dimensional prove that the image is beyond the knowledge or capability of a hypothetical forger. The image on the Shroud represents a realism about crucifixion (wounds in the wrists, nudity) that negate the claim of forgery, as a hypothetical forger would a) have to have known information about crucifixion that was forgotten in the Middle Ages and modern historians have rediscovered), and b) would have made the image to look like people’s expectations of the time.
    6. Fact: Tens of thousands of people witnessed the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, including skeptics and atheists. The miracle of the Sun was photographed. Photographs were taken of the crowd showing the crowd and ground to be soaking wet from the rain that day–and then bone dry a few minutes later.

  5. In any case, since the intended audience of this post was to my fellow Catholics, regarding an opinion on post-Vatican II pluralism, and this is my blog, I am perfectly within my rights to decide how I want the argument to go. I did not post this with the intention of arguing with atheists, as I consider the effort to be fruitless since in my experience atheists are all either willfully ignorant or downright stupid, probably due to too much marijuana.

  6. I am not sure if your reply of April 14 was also directed at me or not, but I am not an atheist. Sure it is your blog and you can say what you want, However asking anybody to accept the validity of religious texts you happen to believe in is a lazy argument even if you are only intending to preach to the choir. Would you accept the Book of Mormon as a valid text just because there are a umber of people who swear it is true?

    Saying things like ” in my experience atheists are all either willfully ignorant or downright stupid, probably due to too much marijuana.” will leave even most intelligent Catholics thinking you have smoked too much weed yourself!

    • To say there is “no proof of miracles” or “no proof of God” and then refuse to read the texts that explain the proofs *is* willful ignorance. I would agree with your position regarding “why should I believe this text” in an abstract, like “You should read the Bible,” but I specifically referred to texts which *EXPLAIN WHY YOU SHOULD BELIEVE CHRISTIANITY*. _Summa Theologica_, _Pensees_, _Confessions_ and _City of God_ are among the greatest works of philosophy of all time, period, and should be part of a well-rounded education. Anthony Flew spent most of his life as a professional atheist, insisting that the traditional proofs for the existence of God had been “discredited.” He was regarded as one of the most “respected” academic philosophers in the world. Yet he never actually *read* Aristotle. When he finally picked up a copy of _Metaphysics_ and read it, it changed his worldview, and he became a theist.

  7. Well since you didn’t reply I wrote a short piece about your brand of wilful ignorance in my own blog.

    • Write whatever you want. Moderating a discussion to the audience and purpose I intended does not make me willfully ignorant. It makes me the moderator of this blog. There are plenty of threads on this blog where I’ve directly argued with atheist commentors. I just have no interest in doing so in this particular thread, because the purpose of it was to address the question of how Catholics should handle a pluralistic society. The post is not directly dealing with atheist-Catholic dialogue or apologetics. I don’t see how inviting you to actually read the books that I’m referring to, which make the arguments I’m taking for granted, constitutes “willful ignorance.” It constitutes willful refusal to have a discussion that would be inane without the proper context.
      I have a thorough education, and I have an informal self-assigned Great Books education that I engaged in on top of schooling. I have never been adverse to studying world views that are different than mine, and I appreciate learning from them what they have to offer. However, as G. K. Chesterton said, “The object of an open mind is to shut it on something solid.”
      Further, you hardly gave me that much time to reply. I realize that this Internet culture presumes instantaneous response, but I haven’t had that much time the past few days, and what time I have had, I have been having severe pain from the aortic dissection I live with. So I simply have not had interest in engaging in adversarial debates in the time I’ve spent online this past few days.

      • Again, if you would care to actually read the philosophers I’ve referred you to, then come back and discuss the merits and demerits of their arguments, I’d be glad to. But to argue with you directly on these topics would involve me simply rehashing what they’ve already said, and probably in an inadequate manner. Now, yes, I did mention the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but I didn’t mention it in an authoritative manner. I’m sure you’d be surprised to know that the Catechism is a philosophical document, written with extensive explanations of the theories behind Catholic teachings, and extensive citations of Popes, Fathers of the Church, Saints, philosophers and the Bible. As Fulton Sheen said, “Not 100 people in the world hate the Catholic Church, but there are a great many people who hate what they think the Catholic Church is.” In a similar manner, I wonder how many people would be shocked to actually read the _Catechism_ and discover its academic rigor.

        Edith Stein was one of the most promising philosophers of her generation, a student and “disciple,” as it were, of Edmund Husserl. She was regarded as a promising scholar. One night, she picked up a copy of the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, for something to read before bed at a friend’s house. She ended up staying up all night, reading it all the way through. She put the book down, and said, “This is the truth.” She soon converted to Catholicism, and then gave up her academic position to become a cloistered Carmelite nun, eventually dying at Auschwitz.

        Dietrich von Hildebrand was from the same generation, also highly promising, and grew up in an atheist household. His father was some kind of artist and was friends with some of the most famous intellectuals and artists of the late 19th Century, who frequently visited their home. He was also regarded as a highly promising scholar (and fulfilled that promise). He was also a phenomenologist and student of Husserl. He converted to Catholicism while in college. He became perhaps the greatest Catholic apologist of the 20th Century (at least in terms of volume combined with academic rigor). Before he had even done his greatest work, Pius XII called him the 20th Century Doctor of the Church. He was an early opponent of Hitler and began running an anti-Nazi periodical in Austria soon after Hitler invaded Austria. Hitler personally signed his death warrant, and he fled Nazi agents through Europe and South America, until finally arriving in the US, in a story which is frequently described as like a real life James Bond story. Then he went on to an illustrious career at Fordham and wrote volumes on apologetics, and against the radical philosophies of both the Right and the Left.

        My whole point is about the refusal to read the books or study the people who believe. Enemies of the Church are all too willing to point out Catholics who’ve fallen short of the Church’s teachings and committed acts of evil that the Church Herself condemns. It’s always, “Galileo! Crusades! Sexually abusive priests!” The same people who have so “thoroughly” studied those offenses or alleged offenses committed in the name of Catholicism (and most only pick them up through popular culture), but they don’t talk about the many great saints the Church has produced, who have performed amazing acts of virtue precisely because of the Faith. They don’t talk about the fact that the Catholic Church is the world’s largest charitable organization. They don’t talk about the many great scientists who have been Catholics, who have achieved their discoveries because their faith inspired them, and who have been commended by the Popes.

        And if people actually read just a few of the many great texts that Catholic thinkers have produced over the past 2,000 years, they’d be quite shocked at the academic rigor of the Faith–That was the original point of my post, and you have only proven my point by your refusal to investigate the primary sources and insistence on engaging in a useless Internet flamewar.

  8. Firstly, I accept your point about not having had time to reply to my comments. You are right, sometimes the internet age makes us impatient for immediate feedback. That was my bad and I apologise without reservation.
    In fact I have read some if not all of the writers you mention although, I admit, not recently.
    While I do not agree with some of the conclusions of some of the great thinkers you cite, I do respect their minds and their integrity. However, as I originally said, I think there are plenty of philosophers past and present who are equally worthy and whose views are substantially different to those whom you favour.
    I agree in general terms with your view that it would be a good thing if more people were more widely read and had the time and patience to avail themselves of the original sources where possible. However, I think we might find areas of disagreement about how authentic some supposed original sources actually are.
    While you are clearly educated and well read you did make some very sweeping statements and inflammatory remarks regarding your own views and attitudes to atheists (that most of them are too doped up on marijuana for example). Thus while I also have no intention of engaging in a flame war you are stretching your own credulity and insulting the intelligence of your readers if you are seriously claiming that you had no intention of provoking a reaction.

  9. Ever hear of satire?

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