"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"
Thursday, 14 March 2013
Pssst! Frank, a word in your ear..
We already know that former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is a theologically conservative Catholic with all the inherent homophobia, misogyny and irrational opposition to reproductive rights that entails. Quotes already abound on the internet about his claims that adoption by homosexuals is a form of “discrimination against children” and that gay marriage is “an attempt to destroy God's plan”. So far, so conventionally Popish. But of course he doesn’t have to make those things a big issue. His views are known and if he has any sense whatsoever he will leave it at that.
Anecdotally the new Pope is a man with the common touch, a concern for the poor and a track record of working for economic equality. He even has a science education having studied chemistry before abandoning rationality and joining the priesthood. His best strategy therefore should be to confine his social advocacy to the things most of us can agree to (Ultra-right-wing sociopaths can stop reading at this point) such as alleviating poverty, providing medical services to the third world etc. He can still go on believing that condoms are the invention of the Devil or that abortion makes baby Jesus cry, he just doesn’t need to make a song and dance about it. If he really is in tune with his flock he will already know that most of them do not agree with the doctrine, so best let them get on with their lives their way.
In consequence he could then use the time he saves by not talking crap about other people’s sex lives to quietly root out the child molesters and their apologists that Ratzinger so singularly failed to do. He could work behind the scenes to clear the Vatican of its self-serving, money hoarding cabal of mafia priests and get the Church to behave as though it really believed half the cherry picked love thy neighbour religiosity it espouses.
As an atheist I don’t really care who the Pope is, or what he believes. But, I do care when a powerful institution tries to impose its twisted morality on people who do not suffer the same delusions. So if Bergoglio lays low and does no evil, that’s fine by me and we can happily ignore each other. The alternative is that we get more of the same crap Ratzinger dished out, in which case I predict the Catholic Church will continue to fade into irrelevance (at least in the west) as the inherent hypocrisy it entails drives what is left of the faithful away.