Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I'm an atheist and I'm rational!

I just received a message from an apparent atheist whose username reflects that he is happy, thinking, and human, and an atheist. I then thought about how common this overt display of self-promotion is when it comes to the atheist community. Most atheist websites are rather overt in declaring how rational, intelligent, free-thinking, and science-loving they are.

You can see it in the titles of atheist websites, books, and usernames. It's rather curious. It reminded me of something Jason Evert from Catholic Answers once said about stores which sell pornography or strip clubs. They usually advertise themselves as "adult bookstores" or "gentlemen's club". But as Jason pointed out, there is nothing "adult" about these places, and no "gentleman" would find himself frequenting these shady dens of depravity. But they are too afraid to advertise what they truly are, so they use euphemisms.

I wonder if atheists refer to themselves so frequently as "rational" and "intelligent" because they are afraid people won't notice otherwise. Or maybe they are afraid that they are not quite as "rational" as they'd like to believe. They seem to be reassuring themselves that their belief system is rational and scientific and could not possibly be the result of any type of fear or other emotion.

Most of the time if someone is constantly telling everyone about a particular quality they have, they have some hidden fear about it. I think I'm intelligent but I don't go around telling everyone that I'm an intelligent, rational person. If I constantly reminded people of this, they would probably start to wonder if it was a preoccupation for me.

Religious people also believe they are rational, and many or most believe science is a valuable tool. But I never hear religious people reminding others that they are rational and intelligent. I rarely ever hear religious people talk about how religious they are either for that matter. If someone did always talk about how religious they are and offer proof as to their religiosity, it would seem strange and perhaps indicative of some insecurity.

I acknowledge that atheists often use these words not only to describe themselves, but also to distinguish themselves from others, i.e. religious people. It's a form of jab that tells as much about how atheists feel about others as about how they feel about themselves.

These are just some thoughts and if anyone would like to agree or disagree, please feel free to do so in the comments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Who's destroying marriage?

Gay marriage is a big topic nowadays. Many states in the US are having constitutional challenges over whether to include gay unions under the term "marriage". Also, Barack Obama came out in support of gay marriage right after his theoretically Catholic VP Biden. In Canada of course, the baby is already gone with the bathwater and gay marriage is legal.

But I think if we focus too much on gay marriage, we miss the point. We have to ask ourselves, what is marriage anyway? This is a critical question. It must have a definition. Any word without a definition is pointless. A "fish" is a particular type of animal. According to the definition, whales are not fish, nor are beavers. But what if people demanded the term fish also include rodents, reptiles, and amphibians. Well, the word just lost most of its definition. Eventually it could be erased. So it is with marriage.

But what is the definition of marriage? According to Catholic teaching, marriage is a

"covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. [It] has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptised."
 The truth is, the definition of marriage has already been violated by the state and by many couples. Here are some things which are offenses against marriage in the eyes of the Church, and if agreed to before a marriage, could invalidate it:

1. Couple decides from the start that they will not have children.
2. Couple decides they will use contraception
3. Divorce
4. In-vitro fertilization

Gay marriage is not a real marriage, but nor is a permanently and voluntarily infertile marriage, nor is divorce an option for a true marriage. In-vitro fertilization is also an illicit act that violates marriage. Heterosexual couples have already been violating the sanctity of marriage, and that's a major problem. Heterosexual couples decided long ago that marriage is just about mutual love and if those feelings of affection wane, then divorce is an option. This is a major perversion of what marriage is.

We shouldn't act as though marriage was all fine and dandy until gay marriage came around. Ever since the 1930s when many churches accepted contraception, the sanctity and true nature of marriage has been attacked.

Hank and John Green on Gay Marriage

So Hank and John Green have a popular video blog, and are known collectively as vlogbrothers. Recently the two rode the trending train and each decided to publish a video giving their full support for gay marriage. Their arguments are all over the place and basically boil down to there are lots of religions and lots of people have lots of different ideas therefore we cannot say anything about morality. Actually this is the argument used by most nonbelievers on most subjects.

I'm mostly going to focus on John's video right now.

John says marriage has meant many things in history. He says the white dress and the priest at the wedding are all relatively new things, therefore gay marriage is okay. Lot of flaws in the argument here. Christian marriage has always been between a man and a woman. The same understanding has been attached to it also. I'm only speaking of Catholicism here. Marriage is a sacrament given to the spouses by the spouses. The priest simply acts as a witness. The concept though is the same.

But John also uses as evidence that Christian marriage has changed because Solomon had MANY wives. Newsflash: Soloman was not Christian, so this point is irrelevant.

John says that many religions have different ideas of marriage, BUT what he forgets like most people is the commonality all these ideas shared. It has ALWAYS been between a man and a woman. Now, some religions say a man could enter into another marriage contract with another woman. But that's also a marriage with a man and a woman. The man just does this many times. This is not a Christian concept though. But no culture has ever recognized two men or two women as married to each other.

Where does marriage come from? It has been noted that if it weren't for children proceeding from the union of a man and a woman, the whole idea of marriage would never have come about. What people like John want to do is to say that marriage is all about feelings of affection between two persons. Well if that's the definition, then anything would be allowed.

In Ancient Greece, gay relationships were common, but they were never recognized as marriage. The idea would seem totally absurd.

John goes on to say basically who are we to limit legal contracts between two individuals. Well, that's not the issue. Civil partnerships have given gays the ability to enact a legal contract, but that has never been enough. No gay rights group has ever said okay we have civil unions, we're done now. They demand to have their relationship labeled a marriage.

The next thing is if gay marriage is allowed, why isn't polygamy? How can we discriminate against three people who want to enter a union (or two women who decide to marry the same man). This is also discrimination. And if any grouping of people can be called a marriage then it completely loses any real meaning. What interest would the state have in protecting this??

The state is not recognizing love or a relationship or giving approval for a certain sexual union. The state recognizes marriage because they are good for society and children are best raised by their own parents.

If the state recognizes gay marriage, then it should probably just abandon the whole area and just let the churches and other religious institutions recognize who they want.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rest in Peace Archbishop Carew

I just attended the funeral of Archbishop William A. Carew at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist on Military Road, St. John's, Newfoundland. He was only a few months away from his 90th birthday.

Archbishop Carew had a distinguished career as a papal nuncio. He spent several decades in Japan, but also lived and worked in many other countries around the world, including Burundi-Rwanda, Bangladesh, and more. He could speak several languages.

He was very gracious to attend the Flatrock Pilgrimage every year, the latest being September of last year.

Click here for a short biography of Archbishop Carew.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Benedict XVI officially declares Hildegard of Bingen a Saint

This is great. I remember learning about Hildegard at university during my music course.

Take that Jon Stewart!

As I reported a few weeks ago, Jon Stewart sunk to a new low when he displayed a disgusting picture of a woman's private parts being covered by a nativity scene. He has freedom of speech, but everyone else has the freedom to protest. That's what the Catholic League did and it has had good results. Delta Airlines stopped sponsoring Jon's show. But Jon is remaining steadfast in his attack on the Church. So be it. Soon enough more sponsors will leave your show. I'm sure you'll find it in your heart somewhere to issue an apology once the money stops coming.