Recently I received an email from “Matt,” who sent me this link followed by these subsequent comments:
(I hope that your site is devoted to exposing bigots of all persuasions. To cry bigotry when someone attacks atheists while ignoring the hateful remarks made by atheists about others seems, well … rather bigoted.)
The guy has lost it.
Dawkins has finally, irrevocably crossed the line from “trenchant critic of religion and champion of atheism” to “drooling nutjob thousand-mile-staring hatemonger RARRAAR RELIGION RRARARARA”. He has become the thing he hates (I seem to remember Nietzsche having something to say about that.)
In the interest of fairness and to defend against later accusations of decontextualization, I’ll reproduce most of the article here with my commentary. By all means read his original remarks yourselves (and the reader comments) and make up your own minds.
The question put to Dick was as follows:
The Vatican is making it easier for Anglicans — priests, members and parishes — to convert to Catholicism. Some say this is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic and Anglican traditions; others see it as poaching that could further divide the Anglican Communion. What do you think?
His response, broken down with my exegeses:
What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world? In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders.
Well, I guess it depends on which mouth-frothing wide-eyed lunatic you ask, Dick. The competition is indeed, as you rightly indicate, stiff.
There seem to be plenty of Americans who think the Federal Reserve would win the Oscar for uber-knavery. Others might say it were those reprehensible believers in the Holocaust fiction, while still others will point to the 7-foot tall, blood-drinking, shape-shifting reptilian humanoids from the Alpha Draconis star system who control humanity through Machiavellian manipulation of human emotion and military conflict.
Sane human beings, however, might have cause to think twice before pointing the diablo-stick at a relatively peaceful contemporary religious organization concerned with the promotion of such infamous underpinnings of depravity as love, family, compassion, hope, service, truth, justice, and forgiveness.
The Anglican church has at least a few shreds of decency, traces of kindness and humanity with which Jesus himself might have connected, however tenuously: a generosity of spirit, of respect for women, and of Christ-like compassion for the less fortunate.
Doubtless all values as entirely absent in the rollicking, foaming cyclone of malevolence that is the Roman Catholic church as they are ubiquitous in the Anglican communion.
The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast; nor to the nastier idea that possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite.
I’ll certainly give you that religious organizations are theological factories concerned with the production of magical fantasy. I don’t understand why you find the doctrines of transubstantiation and male-exclusive priesthood any more deserving of condemnation and ridicule than such I-would-have-thought-equally-repugnant-and-certainly-no-less-dotty Anglican doctrines such as the supreme salvational authority of the Bible (nice read, I lol’d), belief in the essentially evil nature of mankind, and the predestination of all humans to either eternal torment or joy from the beginning of creation.
Well…actually that’s not quite true. I do have a theory about what’s behind your anti-Catholic hate speech. But I’ll get to that later.
It does not send its missionaries out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans, about the alleged ineffectiveness of condoms in protecting against HIV.
Do Catholics oppose condom use? Yes. Has the Catholic church knowingly lied about condom effectiveness? Possibly. Does the promotion of condom use in Africa lead to a reduction in the AIDS rate? Actually, no. Not at all.
The truth is that if Roman Catholicism were responsible for the AIDS epidemic in Africa, it would be a trivial matter to test the hypothesis. The percentage of Roman Catholics in various countries of Africa are quite diverse, as are the HIV infection rates. One need only plot the per cent of Catholics by country against the HIV infection rate in that country.
If the hypothesis that Catholic anti-condom doctrine (misguided or not) was responsible for spreading HIV and AIDS amongst “AIDS-weakened Africans”, you would expect to see increased infection rates in countries that contain more Roman Catholics. Instead, you find decreased HIV rates in Catholic-dominated countries. The idea that Roman Catholic teaching encourages the spread of HIV is refuted by the demographics. By Science. Do you remember Science, Dick? You used to be rather good at it, once. Before you turned into a shoddy philosopher. An assessment your man-crush Rowan Williams agrees with.
Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing.
Well, you tell us, Dick. I presume you’ve had a convivial cathedralside gentleman’s chat with the Pope, as you have with the Archbishop, so you can assess his “countenance”, “qualities” and “sincerity” from a vantage point of familiarity with the subject?
(Nice job cutting him off there at the end so you could make it seem the discussion terminated in a place where you had the upper hand, by the way.)
More generally the remark Dick makes about Ratzinger speaks to a feature of Dick‘s writing and pontificating (etymological pun intended) that is egregiously offensive. He claims to know things that he quite simply doesn’t. That he can’t. Particularly when it comes to the motivations of other people.
Brace for incoming shitspaz.
Poaching? Of course it is poaching. What else could you call it? Maybe it will succeed. If estimates are right that 1,000 Anglican clergymen will take the bait (no women, of course: they will swiftly be shown the door), what could be their motive? For some it will be a deep-seated misogyny (although they’ll re-label it with a mendacious euphemism of some kind, which they’ll call ‘an important point of theological principle’). They just can’t stomach the idea of women priests. One wonders how their wives can stomach a husband whose contempt for women is so visceral that he considers them incapable even of the humble and unexacting duties of a priest.
Gosh, Dick. I guess I understand why you’re so antagonistic toward the Christian conception of God now. Because YOU are the only omniscient being in the Universe! It must be grand to be able to remotely, magically peer into the minds of men and see their deep-seated misogyny dressed up by mendacious euphemism. To know their secret, visceral inner loathing of their own wives which they presumably disguise with outward displays of affection and respect. To have possession of the truth about priestly vocations: that the long years of diligent study and constant exposure to and responsibility for human misery that priests volunteer for (without remuneration) is really a “humble” and “unexacting” duty. Surely nothing to compare with what must be the wretched hard graft of calling religion a pile of shit on the Internet, shmoozing with celebs, and collecting royalty checks from books.
For some, the motive will be homophobic bigotry, and a consequent dislike of the efforts of decent church leaders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury to accept those whose sexual orientation happens to deviate from majority taste. Never mind that they will be joining an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture.
I guess for the first sentence see previous comments regarding my respect for your amazing powers of mentalism. For the second, Charles R Darwin, Dick, are you a professional Internet troll now? “Pervades the culture”? “Pervades the culture”? As well as psychic abilities you must have balls the size of Jupiter to feel comfortable telling 1.1 billion people that they have a culture of homosexual pedophilia. Really I don’t know what to say about the comment past that it sounds deliriously unhinged. Is there medication you ought to be taking that you’re not?
Turning to the motives of the poachers, here we find cause for real encouragement. The Roman Catholic Church is fast running out of priests. In Ireland in 2007, 160 Catholic priests died, while only nine new recruits were ordained. To say the least, those figures don’t point towards sustainability. No wonder that disgusting institution, the Roman Catholic Church, is dragging its flowing skirts in the dirt and touting for business like a common pimp: “Give me your homophobes, misogynists and pederasts. Send me your bigots yearning to be free of the shackles of humanity.”
I’m certainly not going to shed any tears over the decline in numbers of Catholic vocations (though it’s certainly not so dramatic as you try to imply–many countries, particularly developing ones are seeing increases.) As long as the overall number of Catholics isn’t decreasing though, for better or worse I don’t see a sustainability crisis.
With regard to the rest of the excerpt, at this point in the obloquy your frothy invective and gleeful denigration of Catholicism is just making you look like the mindless, bigoted assclown you’re accusing the organization of consisting of (along with *eyeroll* homophobes, misogynists, and pederasts.)
Archbishop Rowan Williams is too nice for his own good. Instead of meekly sharing that ignominious platform with the poachers, he should have issued a counter-challenge: “Send us your women, yearning to be priests, who could make a strong case for being the better-qualified fifty percent of humanity; send us your decent priests, sick of trying to defend the indefensible; send them all, in exchange for our woman-haters and gay-bashers.” Sounds like a good trade to me.
Well, Dick. Perhaps too nice for your own good would be a more accurate way of expressing it. In truth, Archbishop Williams is a very good, decent man with a few odd ideas about magical invisible beings who run around being boss of the Universe. You stand beside him in sharp contrast as a small, repugnant demagogue who is happy to gain personal infamy and publicity for his intellectual hobby horse via the rhetorical equivalent of collective punishment.
I stated earlier that I had a theory about what’s behind Dick’s wildly irrational and emotive assault on the Catholic church, and I do. I’ll share it here.
For those of you who may not know, Dick had what he has described as “a normal Anglican upbringing”. He was an adherent of the religion up until roughly his mid-teens, when he became nonreligious after being exposed to the theories of evolution and natural selection. His parents were members of the affluent British upper-middle class.
My feeling is that Dick, like many people, has never really intellectually escaped from the specter of his religious upbringing and associated parental values. He’s likely to have been long-exposed in his youth to the antipathy or even outright hostility that exists between some sections of the Anglican communion and the Catholic church; he certainly would have grown up having had many thousands of hours of exposure to promotion of the Anglican agenda, and even more exposure to some of the many decent, good people who exist within that organization (though likely little direct experience of Catholicism or Catholics, aside from boogieman stories.)
While certainly an atheist intellectually, I feel pretty comfortable describing Dick as having an Anglican “soul”. Which I think means I just committed the crime of “poetic language” with which he so timidly and reverentially charges Rowan Williams. Regardless, I am confident that anyone with extensive experience of upper-middle class British Anglicanism will agree with me.
All of which amounts to a regrettably long-winded way of saying simply this: