Hooray For Catholicism.

I read a post that talked about how much the catholic church has been a friend to science and the arts and cited examples like the father of the big bang being a catholic priest and various catholics who have done good things.  I had this to say:

 

Concluding that catholicism is good because look what good catholics have done over the centuries (ie the billions who lived under catholic rule or were catholic by default as a result of centuries of conquest and coercion) is kind of like saying white people are great because look at all the clever things ever done by white people.  As if their being white somehow makes whiteness the cause of their great idea or achievement.  It would make as much sense to list catholic mass-murderers and bigots and slave owners and serial killers and conclude catholicism is evil.  

The time the catholic church reigned supreme is known as the dark ages, it is marked by virtually no social or technological advancement whatsoever and it lasted over 1500 years.  And the period after it lost absolute power and fractured into a thousand shards is known as the enlightenment period and is marked by a massive surge in social and technological advancement.  It took humans (under catholic reign) over 15 centuries to go from hand copied books to the printing press.  Once catholicism was supplanted as a source of unquestionable moral and social authority it took us less than a single human lifetime to go from horse drawn carriages to landing on the frigging moon.  And now forty years later I have a phone in my pocket that is a thousand times more powerful than all the hardware on that space capsule (and ground control) put together.  One could argue that the catholic church overall did more holding back than pushing forward.  A lot more.  But look a catholic did a smart thing, hooray for catholicism.

I then felt a little bad for dumping on his post and added:

“Btw I’m sorry if I come off as a little rude, I just believe in historical context and don’t like cherry-picking.”

My comments are currently awaiting moderation.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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34 Responses to Hooray For Catholicism.

  1. caplawson says:

    If the period of the Dark Ages makes you not too fond of Catholicism, I’m curious to know how your views of Islam are affected in light of the major advances in science and mathematics during Islamic Golden Age.

    • agnophilo says:

      Supposedly the islamic world was once much less dogmatic/authoritarian. I can’t really speak to that though. If you take any religion and strip away the dogma, indoctrination, fear-mongering and other forms of bias and coercion what you have left is a philosophy – I think philosophies are good things. Once they become immune to reason and evidence they become big bad “religions”. At least this is one way to frame the concept of religion.

  2. Jeff says:

    Thank you for being a breath of fresh air in the cloying stench of religious dogma.

  3. jeweliedeer says:

    I still fail at commenting but looks like this second attempt is finally working.

    Haha –Nice, Mark!

    Is better to read for myself than secondhand

    I do have to say though that i do appreciate/ respect the work of some orders who have built/
    run excellent hospitals and/ or rehabilitation centers, for example holy family in des
    plaines and Marionjoy rehabilitation center in Wheaton Illinois. They shrink compared to colossal impressiveness but one might argue that for the lives that are rehabilitated and benefitted, their contributions are phenomenal.

    • agnophilo says:

      It depends on what they’re doing I suppose. But yeah the blog was more about ye oldie catholicism, not modern catholicism which has been greatly watered down.

  4. jeweliedeer says:

    But yeah I get your point. Not hooray from many perspectives, particularly advancement of society in general.
    And also, I get the incongruence which you highlighted

  5. kriskodisko says:

    Never thought of the people attributing traits to Christians to people attributing traits to being white before, kudos! I’ll be using that in the future.

    And since when are you concerned with being rude?

  6. sherrivalence says:

    I would argue that the Catholic Church’s teachings are good, and we parishioners suck at following them.

    • agnophilo says:

      You know they used to burn people to death, right?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah I know , to both comments.

        And ps to anonymous person, actually I think it’s strength of character to be honest; think weakness of character when one is proud and lacking in humility.

        Also agree was vague comment.

        • Anonymous says:

          The previous comment was me, Julie. I forgot to sign in. I’m not other anon person. But just saw my last comment was anon so thought I’d make that clear.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, first comment was vague. And I meant weakness of conviction. People are less believable when they use disclaimers to excuse how their opinions are perceived.

      • sherrivalence says:

        Yeah and there are all these abuse and nuns who now supports abortion. But God’s Grace is stronger than man’s sins

        • agnophilo says:

          I don’t think nuns “support abortion”. You probably think the 18th amendment was just lawmakers “promoting drunkenness”.

          • sherrivalence says:

            I’m a bit confused.

            I wasn’t saying you think they are. I was just saying that there is an organization run by nuns that wants to make the Catholic Church allow contraception. It still doesn’t make it right

            • agnophilo says:

              And contraception is abortion? As for the catholic church’s stand, here is a good qoute:

              “It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry.”
              ― H.L. Mencken

  7. warebec says:

    “Concluding that catholicism is good because look what good catholics have done over the centuries (ie the billions who lived under catholic rule or were catholic by default as a result of centuries of conquest and coercion) is kind of like saying white people are great because look at all the clever things ever done by white people.”

    This is a great analogy. I plan to steal it in the future. It’s especially useful as there have been so few black scientists.

    • agnophilo says:

      Bear in mind before making that exact comparison that there were black scientists and respected artists and authors in other cultures that aren’t america. But along those lines you may find this interesting:

      • warebec says:

        Thanks for that reminder. When I think of black scientists, NDT and George Washington Carver are the only names that come to mind. There’s an obvious gap there! I’m sure there are others (google confirms that), but I simply don’t know of them offhand.

        I did find that interview interesting – it’s so wonderful that we’ve come far enough that we now have a popular science show hosted by this brilliant black man. It is still my experience in the schools I attended that the black people were generally not as smart, but I think that has more to do with their opportunities than their genetics – the public schools in the town where I attended high school were simply atrocious, and it is still true that many African Americans are poorer than many whites, especially in that town.

        • agnophilo says:

          There is also a large gap in the number of female experts to male experts in many fields, but this is due to the fact that it was like last year that female college graduates outnumbered men (despite women outnumbering men 52% to 48%). So it will take time to balance out. And while our schools are not segregated by race they are still segregated by rich and poor (since education funding is based on property tax), and rich and poor are still heavily segregated by race. So being white usually does mean you get a better education sadly. Not to mention minorities are the last to get hired and the first to get fired, which makes things that much worse.

  8. woohoo says:

    I agree but I don’t think that applies for every smart Catholic. The Catholic Church does teach people things like money isn’t something they should be obsessed with which I think enabled some people especially nuns and monks to take vows of poverty and devote their lives to helping the poor.

    I also read that the Catholic priest was able to discover the Big Bang theory because he read the part in Genesis where it says “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Yeah there are a lot of copies of the Bible available to lay people but he was a priest who had to read the Bible regularly with the Catholic perspective that the Genesis should be read theologically instead of literally I think it’s safe to say that him being Catholic gave him that opportunity.

    • agnophilo says:

      I by no means am trying to generalize and people are individuals regardless of how they lump themselves together or label themselves, and it’s worth mentioning that what it means to be catholic differs dramatically from culture to culture – the central church is militantly anti-abortion, but in the US most catholics are pro-choice democrats. And many diocese in the US might teach that money and excess are not important, but the vatican is an overpowering monument to the opposite philosophy, as are many catholic churches which are far from spartan in their design. So between the priest with a vow of poverty and the pope wearing vestments made from actual golden threads there is a disconnect. But even there it depends on the pope, the new one tends to avoid crap like that and prefer a message of humility by example.

      • woohoo says:

        I never really wondered about the clothes before until I read a blogpost called “in defense of nice churches,” which makes the point that the Churches are not for priests but for the everybody.

        But I still think that if we can all follow the Catholic Church’s teaching in our every day lives we’d be better off than we are right now.

        • agnophilo says:

          I think if we only ever did what 90% of the population was willing to stand in front of a group of people and endorse we’d be better off than we are right now. I don’t think there’s anything special about the teachings of this or that church. I think people associate good ethics with their sect and think (or are taught) that that’s where they come from or one group has a monopoly on them, but ethics like the golden rule are as old as the hills and found in every culture.

          • woohoo says:

            this just came to me right now, when you said, “the central church is militantly anti-abortion” that sounded really harsh. i think it’s more accurate to say that the Catholic Church has extreme respect for the dignity of human life.

            but yeah you’re right. rules about stealing and killing i wouldn’t associate to one culture. they are universally binding.

            • agnophilo says:

              I wasn’t trying to spin their position as a positive or a negative, I just meant that it’s very different from the position of most western catholics on a very divisive issue. Anti-abortion, pro-life, pro-choice, whatever euphemism floats yer boat : )

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