PRINT--Why Catholics Are Right by Michael Coren


In my endeavor to become a Catholic, I have been reading various books in a personal crash course on the faith. One of the books that helped me immensely is Michael Coren's Why Catholics Are Right. In this slim volume, Coren makes a vigorous defense against the popular criticisms of the Church. These involve things like the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the sex abuse scandal. Coren does a masterful job addressing these issues, and the man pulls no punches.

One of the things I have discovered in my journey is the heaping amount of anti-Catholic hatred out there. As someone who grew up in the Protestant South and as a former atheist, I know all about this hatred. What Coren's book does is show how these haters are also liars grasping at any stick to beat their favorite dog. These lies are not merely differences of opinion but outright distortion of the facts.

The biggest issue facing the Church is the sex abuse scandal. This scandal is regrettable but also one that was unavoidable in a church of over one billion people. As the Sandusky scandal at Penn State shows, this is a problem outside the Church as well as in it. It plagues other religions, youth sports, and the public school system. And Coren makes the point that Catholics themselves are very upset over these things. Nothing can ever excuse these crimes, but Coren shows that the Catholic Church is not alone on this and is not indifferent to it. Basically, those who hate the Church have found a gold mine in this issue and milk it for all it is worth when the reality is that the Church has less of a problem with it than the New York public school system. The one difference between the Church and these other organizations is that the Church shows actual contrition and regret over the scandal. And, despite the lies about papal indifference, the Pope has strived mightily to address this issue. His work and pronouncements on this issue are utterly ignored. Seeing it from Coren's perspective is a real eye opener.

The other interesting thing I have learned from Coren and others is that Catholicism is thoroughly biblical. Most anti-Catholic hatred comes from evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants that believe the Church is some sort of cult that added to or distorted the Christian message. The reality is that it is Protestants who go against Scripture and have perverted what Scripture says and add to it. The Catholic Church is on firm Scriptural ground while the thousands of Protestant denominations that exist simply make up whatever doctrine or teaching will make them feel good for that moment.

The Catholic Church is not perfect, and Coren does not deny this. As my wife puts it to me, the Catholic Church is totally self-aware and mindful of its shortcomings. Coren's book is no whitewash. It is merely a spotlight, and I came away from the book strengthened by my conviction that the Catholic Church is the true and authentic church of Jesus Christ established on the rock of Peter, the first pope, and unbroken in its apostolic succession for almost 2000 years. I think this is why so many in the world hate the Church. People hate the Church not for what it gets wrong but for what it gets right. I highly recommend this book.

Amen and Anathema

This is a note for my blog readers that I am making a change to my buttons at the bottom of my posts. For a long time, you could vote "amen" on a post if you agreed with it, and "fuck you" on posts that you disagreed with. I thought this was really hip, and I will retain the voting option. The problem is that "fuck you" is so in your face vulgar that I want to clean it up a bit. The "fuck you" button is now the "anathema" button. For those who don't know, anathema means "the denunciation of something as accursed." It is the word the Catholic Church uses for heresies.

I know this change will displease some of my readers while it will delight others who have chided me over the years for my vulgar language. I am no Baptist prude, so I am not going to be a blue law Christian on this stuff. But I am just not an atheist anymore. My delight in offending is less pleasurable these days. I think they call this "sanctification."

If you disagree with this change feel free to vote "anathema" on this post. As always, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Lance Armstrong Redux


Is Lance Armstrong a seven time champion of the Tour de France? Absolutely. And why do I believe this? For the same reasons that Barry Bonds is the home run king. In a dirty field of competitors, it makes no sense to retroactively strip titles and award them to people who were probably just as dirty. It is time for me to pull the lid off of this canned shit. Get ready for a strong whiff of revulsion.

I don't watch sports or keep up with them anymore. The only reason I comment on Lance Armstrong is because I have followed his story since 1999 when I actually was naive enough to believe that he was a clean athlete. I lost my faith in Lance around the same time Greg LeMond called Lance a cheater after Lance spilled the beans in a private telephone convo. It was one man's word against another, but I believed LeMond. I believe Lance is guilty along with all of the other competitors. I am sure there are honest clean athletes in cycling, but they are not at the front of the peloton. If you are going to compete in cycling, you have to dope.

Lance Armstrong's story is going to challenge the anathema concerning doping. I can feel it coming. For me, the disgrace isn't that Lance is a doper so much as that he is a liar. At some point, this shit is going to come out into the open and be accepted much as the underground payoffs to "amateurs" in Olympic sports finally gave way to letting professionals compete in the games. The antidopers cannot win their fight anymore than the Prohibitionists won their fight against demon rum. Doping is here to stay, and it will become an accepted part of sport. USADA and WADA should just close up shop.

Personally, I find doping in sports pretty nauseating. But I have written about this before in Greece and Rome. Sports is either a celebration of virtue (Greek) or spectacle (Roman.) These days, we are Roman in sports, and this is not going to change. Virtue in the athletic arena is a farce. As such, I don't care to watch these things on TV anymore because professional athletes are not heroes. They are fodder for our entertainment.

For me, the thing about Lance is not about whether he was a doper or not. It doesn't matter if he is a champion or not. The real question is this. Is Lance Armstrong a hero? The answer is no. This is why I wanted the truth to come out. I don't want his titles stripped or him to be banned from competition or serve jail time. I just want people to stop revering him as a hero when he clearly isn't a hero. No doped athlete can ever be a hero.

Antidoping organizations are the defenders of a lost ideal. Sports became corrupted by money long before they were corrupted by PEDs. Boxing is the most clear example, but boxing has always been in the Roman tradition of things. Thanks to gambling, you never know if a fight is fair or rigged. If you want to see the future of professional cycling, just look at boxing. Nowadays, the more straightforward spectacle of UFC is what sports will be going forward.

Lance Armstrong is a fierce competitor, a bully, and a pathological liar. These are the "virtues" of today's world of sports. This is the tragedy of the Roman sensibility because brutality and savagery become the name of the game instead of honor and discipline and fair play. The result is not unlike replacing Shakespeare with action movies and porn. The irony is that the spectacle meant to cure boredom merely inflames the boredom and leaves it unsatisfied. But that is a topic for another essay.

I don't watch sports. They make me sick. There are better things to do with your time. When it comes to the good, the true, and the beautiful, today's world of sports is none of these things. Welcome to the bad, the false, and the ugly.

[SOC]

I have to make myself write these days. My brain is very much on fire as I essentially do a crash course on Catholicism and Burkean conservatism. As such, I feel like I am remodeling a McDonald's while trying to keep coffee and Big Macs while the construction is going on. Since I write from what I know, it is difficult to write as I learn as I am writing from ignorance instead of knowledge. This is why I have no trouble writing these SOC posts because they are "stream of consciousness" which means that I put on the screen whatever comes into my head. This is in contrast to my essays where I write something planned in support of a thesis.

I am also retooling the C-blog a bit. I refuse to edit posts from the past or delete them, so you will find things on my blog from the past that contradict my present view on things. This is nothing new as I have grown over the years in new directions, so those old posts serve as a chronicle of my intellectual journey. My values are changing as I go in this direction I call the moral revolution. For instance, Hugh Hefner and Christopher Hitchens would no longer make my heroes list. I also don't consider myself a secular individualist anymore.

I also don't know if I want to continue my Charles Noir persona anymore for fiction writing or even keep writing the Buzzard County stuff. As a fiction writer, I never found my voice. All of that stuff was written from an essentially nihilistic and cynical worldview that I simply don't have anymore. Plus, that writing frankly sucks. My admiration now is for a guy like J.R.R. Tolkien who wrote from a very Catholic viewpoint. Somehow, if I want to continue as a fiction writer, it needs to be something worthwhile. One of my blog commenters said I needed to stop writing crap, and I agree.

The only purpose of this blog over the years has been to simply give myself an outlet to express my thoughts and feelings on things. A subject blog is wedded to a subject, and they invariably get abandoned when that person changes his or her mind about things. For instance, a vegan can't keep doing a vegan blog if he or she suddenly goes paleo. But I can do that without a hiccup since my blog is about me and not necessarily a topic. As such, my blog has never been a minimalist blog, an atheist blog, a libertarian blog, or an art blog though those subjects have certainly been featured here many times.

I think I am also going to alter my editorial schedule on things. Certain recurring features are going away. For instance, the Unknown Blogger and I have parted ways, so the U-man will take his conspiracy theorizing someplace else. I've enjoyed writing True Shit posts, but I think I am going to let that slide along with Heroes, Villains, and Pricks. I think I want to write more essay stuff instead of having all of the recurring things all of the time. I don't know. I just know that I am in a state of flux, and I have to get settled into a new routine. I just know that my SOC posts will continue since they write themselves. They are the things I enjoy writing most.

Going to bed now.

The Fall and Disgrace of Lance Armstrong


Lance Armstrong throws in the towel and lets USADA strip him of his seven TDF titles. Do I think Lance Armstrong doped? Absolutely. I have been waiting for this day, and it has finally come. Lance Armstrong is a cheater.

There will be some people still deep in denial, but it is painfully obvious that Lance is guilty as hell. The fighter calls it quits? Please. . .

USADA went after Lance because they absolutely knew he was guilty. They wouldn't have wasted their time if there was nothing there. They could only destroy their own legitimacy going after an innocent man. But Lance Armstrong is not innocent. I think what USADA had on him will come out and be measured in the court of public opinion.

As pleased as I am that we see Lance Armstrong for what he really is, the downside is that his stripped titles will go to others who are just as dirty. It is a bit of a joke. In a clean competition, Lance would have probably still won. But in a dirty competition, there are no real winners. USADA won an epic battle against Lance Armstrong, but they are absolutely losing this war.

I don't know what will become of Lance Armstrong now. My advice to him is to just disappear. Go away, and don't come back. The world should forget him.

The Collapse of Libertopia

We remit some rights that we may enjoy others.
EDMUND BURKE

Libertopia is that tongue-in-cheek description that libertarians use to describe the ideal free society. It doesn't exist in reality, and many libertarians would probably agree that it never will. This is because the majority of people probably won't go along with it. This is a concession that libertarians make to reality. But libertarians do posit the possibility that libertopia could exist even if it never comes to pass in actuality. It is my contention that libertopia could never exist in either in actuality or theory. Here's why.

In order to have a libertopian society, the most basic thing necessary is for everyone to agree to abide by the non-aggression principle or NAP. The moment a single person deviates from the NAP then libertopia collapses. This is because the aggressor will need to be dealt with. Will he be shunned, excommunicated, incarcerated, or executed? And who will decide these things? And who will be the one in charge of deciding who decides? It is these questions which give birth to government.

Libertopia presupposes that people will have freedom of thought. This will mean a variety of opinions. To think otherwise is to say that people have freedom of thought so long as those thoughts are the correct ones. But any true libertarian will agree that people have the freedom to be Marxist, monarchist, or fascists in their thoughts even if they are not that way in deed. But since libertopia requires that all people agree to abide by the NAP, the freedom to not agree with this leads to libertopia's collapse. Libertopia is impossible. It cannot even exist in theory. It is a square circle. In order for freedom to exist, we must take away some of that freedom. In this case, it is the freedom to disagree with the NAP.

Liberty is a relative thing. It can be in greater or lesser amounts relative to our agreements with others. This is why a woman can walk down a street in America in a bikini but not in Saudi Arabia. You can change the law in Saudi Arabia permitting that freedom, but the people there will almost certainly stone that woman to death. As we see, liberty is not merely a political or legal issue but also a cultural one. We can decry the tyranny of a Muslim society, but the libertopian society would have the same sort of tyranny. Here's why.

Edmund Burke made the point that ideology is built on abstraction and automatically leads to tyranny. Since the ideal society requires perfection, imperfection must be ruthlessly eliminated. This is why we had the massive atrocity in the French Revolution and communism. In order for there to be liberty, we must accept that society can never be perfect by any standard. This includes the standard of liberty. The result is that all societies are compromises between competing ideas, traditions, and preferences.

Libertarians will argue that they are not tyrants, but this is merely because they do not seek power or actually attain it. But the impulse to tyranny is still there. Libertarians cannot prosecute, imprison, or execute, but they can criticize, pillory, and excommunicate. The most glaring example of this is Ayn Rand's collective that she "ruled" with an iron fist. It is no great stretch to imagine what she would and could do with real power. Now, if Rand was such a believer in freedom and individualism, why was she so intolerant of freedom and individualism?

Libertarians will claim to reject Objectivist thinking on this, but they engage in their own purging. This happens when a professed libertarian either supports something or claims something that makes other libertarians doubt whether or not that libertarian is a bona fide libertarian. For instance, when Ron Paul expresses pro-life views or nativist views or gradual elimination of some government programs instead of sudden elimination, some libertarians place him in the category of a heretic. The impulse is there, and the name of that impulse is "purity." Purity is the enemy of liberty.

True liberty must rest on a conservative foundation. It must accept the inevitability and inescapability of imperfection. It must reject ideology and utopian thinking. Libertarian thinking rests on Enlightenment ideology. Conservative thinking rests on Christian theology. The cornerstone of liberty is the belief in Original Sin. Because people are not perfect including ourselves, we tolerate them. We forbear. We forgive. True liberty is the acknowledgement of our imperfections which is why power is dispersed, checked, and kept in constant inspection and suspicion.

In practical terms, my beliefs in ending the drug war, non-interventionism, and other libertarian positions remains unchanged. But in philosophical terms, my beliefs have changed considerably. The structure remains the same, but the foundation has changed. In short, I have put away Locke, Mill, and Rand in favor of Adams, Burke, and Kirk. I believe that the liberty we enjoy today comes from the Christian religion not philosophy concerning principles and social contracts. As such, I am a conservative.

Conservatism is not an ideology. There is no purity in conservatism. There are no dogmas or philosophical systems. Conservatism is simply a collection of general tenets favoring tradition over ideas and gradual change over revolution. Conservatives are willing to compromise, and they are pessimistic about any glorious utopian schemes. Progressivism is utopian since it is informed and influenced by Marxism and a belief in a completely equal society. Like the completely free society, such a thing can never exist.

Freedom ultimately depends on the morality of the citizenry. A greater people need less government. A lesser people need more government. This is why revolutions often end up in worse tyrannies than the ones they topple. To have freedom, government must restrain vice while institutions like the church and the family must promote and transmit virtue. Libertarians believe that virtue is the spontaneous product of freedom, but this is simply not the case as evidenced by lawless places like the Old West or Somalia. Government must exist and restrain vice to the degree that good people are able to flourish.

Governments can be good or bad. Government can restrain vice or be the agent of vice. This is a tenet of conservatism. As such government itself can never be perfect and must always restrain itself with checks and balances. The best possible government is a republic, and the US Constitution is fundamentally a conservative document. It is not perfect, but it was better than either the tyranny or the atomized nation that was certain to come from the aftermath of the American Revolution. The most probable outcome would have been reconquest by the British in the War of 1812.

No party or individual carries the banner of true conservatism these days except Ron Paul. The GOP is simply terrible as a conservative organization. Most of this comes from ignorance of economics and an interventionist neocon foreign policy. Most Republican candidates are indistinguishable from Democrats. The epitome of this collapse of conservatism is the monstrosity known as Mitt Romney. My own philosophical change won't matter much at all at the ballot box as there is not single candidate other than Ron Paul that I could consider voting for in any presidential election.

The organization that represents my thinking best these days is the Acton Institute. Lord Acton is someone I can get down with along with Burke and Kirk. I also retain my fondness for libertarians like Tom Woods, Andrew Napolitano, and Jeffrey Tucker who are Catholic. The specific Catholic positions I agree with are those banning abortion, ending unnecessary and unjust wars, and abolishing the death penalty. Otherwise, I am essentially still a libertarian favoring small government and a free market. I am simply willing to compromise a bit to make things better knowing it will never be perfect. Prudence is superior to purity, and this is what makes me a conservative.

Q & A

Q: Why can't good and bad exist without the necessity of God?

A: This is a question slightly reworked from a blog comment on another post. It cuts to the core of why I believe atheism leads to nihilism. I will now endeavor to answer it.

There are good and bad atheists just as there are good and bad Christians. When a Christians is bad, he or she is going against their professed belief. Conversely, when an atheist is good, he or she is going against his or her professed belief. The bad Christian and the good atheist are both hypocrites. Atheism is inherently evil. Here's why.

The atheist ethicist will argue that all morality stems from a principle of reciprocity. We do good in the hope that good will be done in return to us. You scratch my back, and I will scratch your back. This is not ethics or morality. This is merely game theory. Jesus turns this thinking on its head in Matthew 5:43-48:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Doing good solely for the sake of a favor done in reciprocity is not moral. Even evil people manage to do good by this definition. Love those who love you, and hate those who hate you. This is atheist ethics completely. As a former atheist, I know it because I lived it. The residue still clings to me.

The true morality Jesus defines here is far different than anything you will find in the game theory ethics of the atheist. Jesus is telling us explicitly to be good to those who cannot benefit us in any way. He goes even further to tell us to be good to those who are evil to us. This is not game theory or the product of Richard Dawkins's evolutionary theories. This teaching of Jesus is pure madness. It is insanity. What makes it sane is that God exists. If there is no God, being good to those who can do you no good or who do you evil is just stupid.

Atheist reciprocity leads to inevitable chaos, darkness, and nihilism. This is because civilization depends upon charity. Why should an atheist care for anyone but himself or herself? Why should anyone refrain from stealing or killing when they can get away with it? And most especially, why should anyone refrain from doing evil to those who are evil?

When an atheist shows kindness and mercy to those who can do him or her no good, he or she is not living by the atheist ethic. This atheist is living by the Christian ethic. This is hypocritical. Acts of unilateral charity are nonsense in a world without God. This selflessness is self negating. Yet, this selflessness is what Jesus was all about. His example is the superior one. No one in history is like Jesus. Anyone who comes close does so purely in imitation of Him.

Atheists attempt to recreate this Christian ethic on some secular foundation. They fail. The best an atheist can do is exactly what Jesus says that all sinners do. Do good to the good, and do bad to the bad. Either you have the selflessness of Christ, or you have the so-called enlightened self-interest of the secularist which is indistinguishable from the mafia goon. This is why all evildoers justify all their sins and crimes by claiming victimhood and a demand for justice. And genocide is justified for the sake of some greater good.

God lets His sun shine on both the just and the unjust. We are to do the same. We are not to treat people as they deserve to be treated. We are to treat people in spite of how they deserve to be treated. This is why in Christian countries atheists can spout their beliefs while in officially atheistic countries you will end up in a gulag or in front of a firing squad. It is the Christian ethic that teaches tolerance, forbearance, and charity.

I tried for ten years to come up with a secular substitute for the Christian ethic. In the end, in a world without God, it is might that makes right. The only crime the Nazis committed was in losing the war, and anything you wish to do is permitted as long as you win. In a world without God, the only real sin is weakness.

Atheists will take me to task on my turn to God. But I now put the question to you. Why should I be good to you? Tell me why. Why should I give a shit about you? Can you do anything for me? Can you do anything to me? If nothing bad can happen to me, why should I endeavor to do good for you?

The atheist will counter that the Christian merely does good because he or she engages in the same sort of self-serving game theory ethics with God. But this shows the ignorance of theology on the part of these people. God can never be in anyone's debt. Good works cannot buy you Heaven, and bad works can certainly be forgiven. This is the second part of Jesus's teaching. God extends to us the same unilateral goodness that we should extend to each other. God gives us nothing that we deserve. This is because none of us is deserving of His goodness. We are deserving of His wrath. In short, God loves His enemies. And he vanquishes them with His love.

The Christian ethic is the superior one. No secular ethic can come close.

[SOC]

Much of my anger these days come from my repeated disgust with the Parasite Class. I realize that these people have always existed in history, and they always will. My wife calls these people "the rats." Basically, the world can be divided into two classes of people. You have the salt of the earth, and you have the scum of the earth.

The rats are very basic. They seek their own ends at the expense of others. They steal credit and deny blame. They are liars. They always want to get something for nothing. You can see these rats in various "leadership" positions. They aren't leaders at all since they are scarce when real leadership is needed. The epitome of parasitism is Washington, DC, but corporate middle management runs a close second.

My hatred of these people eats at my insides. It is the reason I am so angry all the time. Most of this anger hits me at work since this is when I have to deal with these rats the most. Their playbook is Machiavelli. As such, I want to take these rats and slam their heads repeatedly against a wall until their brains explode from their shattered skulls. This is extreme hatred, but I don't know how to feel when one of these rats essentially threatens the well being of another man's family. I have seen this scenario played out many times where some hardworking dude has to eat another man's shit because he doesn't want to get fired and hurt his family.

It is hard for me not to feel this anger because it is a just anger. It is correct anger. Evil people should suffer for their crimes, sins, and iniquities. I often think I need to stop being angry but to do this would require me to stop believing in right and wrong. The sin is not in the anger, but in the desire to take these rats and bludgeon them into a brain dead coma. The answer is not stoic apathy but in patience. Let God be the judge.

As an atheist, I would always tell myself that the only justice is the justice you make. As such, I was more than willing to take a rat out by my own means. Since rats are cowards, I've never had to follow through on any retaliation. Unlike a family man, I have nothing to lose, so I'm quite willing to go to the mattresses to hurt these people. But instant revenge is not Christian. This is because this revenge is hasty. God's time horizons are much longer, but His punishments are certain and severe. Taking your own revenge is more merciful than waiting for God's justice. Therefore, patience is better. There is a Hell, and evildoers will never know mercy there. This is the destiny of these rats.

I have to believe in God's justice. I have to love my enemies. I have to pray for these people. This is very hard teaching. Everything in me just wants to punch these rats in the face, but I have to pray for them instead. Being Catholic is really hard.

Pope John Paul II forgave the man who shot him. I think about that often. Did Reagan forgive Hinckley? Could you forgive Osama bin Laden? Yet, the Pope forgave the man that put a bullet in him. The lives of saints and martyrs are history to me, but Pope John Paul II was a man who lived in my lifetime. I remember when he got shot. His example is a living one for me. If he could forgive and forbear, then I can pray for rats.

I suppose the last thing for me to remember is that I am also a rat. I am less ratty than the rats I see each day, but I am still a rat, too. I do bad things all the time, so I should probably show a little mercy. This is because I deserve my own reservation in damnation. In the end, I have to be the good in the world and let God handle the rest. Yes, I am a scumbag, but God makes me a better person. I know God does this because the rats around me still keep their brains in their skulls where they belong.

[SOC]

I have probably shocked and dismayed a lot of my readers with my recent changes in thinking. First, I took a heaping dump on love and marriage. Then, I got married. I have been an avowed atheist for over ten years. Now, I attend Mass and start RCIA classes next month. I still consider myself a libertarian, but I find myself becoming more conservative in my thinking as I read Burke and Kirk. What is happening to me?

All of these things are related. I am a total sell out. I did not have the intestinal fortitude required to continue in my bleak world of pessimistic atheistic nihilism. Actually, I did since I have been doing it for over a decade. I have written extensively on these things here at the C-blog for a long time. Reading my posts have been a combination of sucking the life out of you but leaving you with the consolation that no better life exists. Bathed in this pessimism, you are left with no hope but also no regret. So, why did I turn away from this darkness?

Life is a mixed bag. It isn’t Utopia, but it isn’t Hell either. What makes life tolerable is that there is some meaning to it all. But without meaning, paradise itself turns to misery. We live in nihilistic times, and it shows in our culture, our thinking, and the way we live. Yet, we see glimmers of hope, virtue, and majesty. A crazed gunman opens fire on a movie theater full of people. There is no real surprise in this. The surprising things were the young men who died shielding their girlfriends from the bullets. Good men still exist.

I see it all as the battle between good and evil. Atheism is evil. This doesn’t mean that all atheists are evil. Pat Tillman was an atheist, but he showed a high degree of selflessness. Camus showed compassion relative to the Stalin loving Sartre. But good atheists are like dogs who are friendly to cats. They exist but as rare exceptions. Most good atheists I know are good as a result of the residue of a Christian upbringing. Atheists raised in freethinking households tend to be thoroughly darkened.

I have scoured the internet and YouTube listening to atheists try to varying degrees of failure to posit moral truths without God. I have listened to various atheists defend everything from child rape to bestiality to infanticide. I have posted these things on my Facebook page, and no one seems to really care about this glaring moral deficiency.

The truth about atheism is clear. Atheists truck morality out when it conveniences them and ditch it when it inconveniences them. If you doubt this, tell a feminist atheist you want to abort a girl because you prefer a boy. It is entertaining to watch the contortions on their faces.

There is a moral law written on the hearts of human beings, and I don’t think this is a product of evolutionary accident. I think this is the divine spark of the Almighty. Atheists have this spark in them. They can deny it with their mouths and their brains, but it doesn’t change anything. I always felt it in me. Now, that I don’t lie to myself about it anymore, I feel the sting of conscience over a decade of evil living. I am such a piece of shit.

I wasn’t much better in my pre-atheist days. I will piss off even more people with this next one, but I will write it anyway. Protestant Christianity is a bastard stepchild. In all its schisms and permutations, Protestantism resembles true Christianity in much the same way that checkers resembles chess because they both are played on a checkerboard. This may seem harsh, cruel, and unfair; but it is charitable relative to the anti-Catholicism that pours out of Protestant churches declaring the Pope to be the Antichrist and the Roman Catholic Church to be the whore of Babylon. I can personally tell you that it is easier to be an atheist in the Bible Belt than to be a Catholic.

Protestantism isn’t true Christianity. It is simply a collection of heresies with various denominations picking which delicious errors they love most. But despite their differences, they all have a few key things in common. The first is that they all despise the Catholic Church. The only exception would be Anglo-Catholics who should quit kidding themselves and become Catholic. Protestants hate Catholics. Catholics do not hate Protestants.

The second thing Protestants all share in common is a de-emphasis of communion. Catholics believe in the Real Presence. Protestants have various doctrines on the Lord’s Supper, but they all deny the Real Presence to greater or lesser degrees. I don’t think this is accidental. I have read a lot on the subject, and it is clear from the words of Jesus in the Bible and church tradition dating to the first century that it is really the body and blood of Christ. You have to be in a serious state of self-denial to not see it. Yet, Protestants are able to divine from Scripture all sorts of bullshit like the Rapture and the prosperity gospel but not the Real Presence. Lutherans come closest to the Catholic view, but I find it interesting that even Luther had to issue a qualification on this doctrine. Protestants are unanimous. It is just juice and crackers. Calvinists and Lutherans will protest, but we know the truth by what they do with the leftovers. Catholics lock them away as precious things. Protestants toss it out with the garbage.

John 6:53 is clear on this point, “Most truly I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Protestants by their own admission do not eat the flesh or drink the blood of Jesus. They are not in the club. They want to be the club and set their own rules. But they are all counterfeit churches.

I think their rejection of the Real Presence is both an identifier of their inferior state and also a token of mercy from God. For Protestants, they are correct. There is no Real Presence for them. It is just juice and crackers, and it is good because the New Testament is clear that to eat unworthily is a big deal. Basically, they are kids given a toy gun instead of a loaded revolver. There is no damnation in juice and crackers.

The third and last thing all Protestants share in common is a virtual absence of good works. I don’t want to make the case that all Catholics are good people. There are lots of bad Catholics. But Catholics show a high degree of work on real moral acts and personal virtue that is lacking in Protestant churches. Catholics are known for their charitable works and living it out. Protestants reduce the sanctification to either reading Scripture daily and/or not dancing, drinking, or smoking. Saintliness is not a Protestant thing, and you aren’t going to see anyone like Mother Teresa come out of a Baptist or Presbyterian church.

The Protestant Reformation was born out of the simple fact that being Catholic is hard. Luther couldn’t take it anymore. He wanted out, and it was useful that there were plenty of scoundrels and abuses in Luther’s time to grease the skids for his exit. But the bottom line is that all those doctrines that came from the Reformation existed purely to delegitimize the authority of the Catholic Church. But this authority came from Jesus Himself. And there is no Scriptural justification for those doctrines either.

All this change in my religious thinking has certainly had an effect on my political thinking. I remember reading Ron Paul’s reasons for being pro-life, and it stung my heart a bit. I was atheist when I read that stuff, and I resisted what Ron Paul was getting at. But I knew he was right. Abortion is murder. The part where he relates how they were trying to save one unborn child in one room while aborting another at the same stage of development in another room was really hard to deal with. I can’t be pro-choice anymore.

I still identify as a libertarian, but I am less of a libertarian than before. I think abortion should be against the law. I also think that less government does not necessarily lead to a better society. Sweden has way more government than Somalia, but I think anyone would find Sweden preferable to Somalia. This doesn’t mean that I endorse the welfare state or anything, but I don’t think the elimination of government automatically results in libertopia. In fact, I don’t think libertopia is even possible. As such, I really have to define myself more as a conservative except that term hardly means today what it used to at one time. I am more like Jack Hunter now than Murray Rothbard.

I think freedom depends largely on morality. Without moral citizens, freedom is impossible. This is why Russia is a shithole even after the fall of communism. The cultural damage of atheism and vodka swilling makes Russia utterly unfit for liberty. This is why they get a guy like Putin. Similarly, if the USA becomes a nation of potheads addicted to videogames, it won’t be much better. There is no liberty without virtue.

I embrace the Burkean outlook now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean much as I see nowhere to make a political home these days. Today’s Republicans are a joke. I could support a new Ronald Reagan even if the Gipper was a compromiser who sold out his principles during his presidency. I think Margaret Thatcher was pretty decent or even a guy like Calvin Coolidge.

I don’t know what government can do to promote virtue, but I definitely see how government undermines virtue. This would be the welfare state, bailouts, etc. I think a president can offer moral leadership from the bully pulpit as Reagan did, but I don’t see how it can be legislated. I don’t see me voting for Mitt Romney.

What makes society great is not just government but other institutions especially family and church. Before my recent change in heart, I was already touching on this moral dimension in society in my writings on the Parasite Class. I also think there is a good capitalism and a bad capitalism which is not a matter of government policy. Some companies just do bad because they are bad. It is their nature. I think libertarians are naive on this point. When you see a company do bad things totally unrelated to government policy, you realize that there is more to it than simply letting the free market fix things. Great examples are shysty car salesmen that fuck over customers and lie to them.

This is where I am now in my thinking. I don’t know if it makes any difference in the whole scheme of things, but as reported in a previous post, I am calling this change the “moral revolution.” I think personal morality matters, and this morality comes from God.

Science and Religion



I believe that I may understand.
ST. AUGUSTINE

I was watching an old video with the late great Fulton Sheen as he gave an important lesson about applying the right thinking to the right spheres of understanding. None of his lecture was overtly religious, but it was profound in its impact as he showed how thinkers applied scientific thinking from one field of endeavor to another with disastrous results. For instance, some in the social sciences applied evolution to social thinking creating Social Darwinism. Others applied Einstein to everything from philosophy to politics to come up with relativism. These things constituted intellectual fads that triumphed for a time and then faded. The lesson was that it is never smart to mix your thinking in this way. The tools and ideas of one field should be used in that field and not others.

If I said that I wanted to do an interpretation of Shakespeare using Newtonian Laws of Motion, most rational people would laugh. What does inertia have to do with Hamlet? It may be humorous, but atheists attempt the same sort of feat when they claim that science can answer moral questions. How can Darwinian evolution tell us if it is right or wrong to lie on an expense report, cheat on our taxes, have an adulterous affair, have an abortion, or kill our annoying neighbor? It can’t. It is ludicrous to think it ever could.

I love science. I think science is done best when it is free from superstition. I think science should be the focus on the natural and not the supernatural. Religion should not interfere with science as pure science. It may have something to say about nuclear weapons or frozen embryos. But natural events should be explained in terms of natural causes. Science can answer the what and the how. It cannot answer the why. The best it can do is leave a blank.

Science is not philosophy. Science springs from philosophy. The scientific method commands us to use empirical methods to discover truth, but its own foundation is non-empirical. We always start with presuppositions, and this requires faith. This is what Augustine was getting at when he said that he believed in order to understand. Likewise, the scientist begins with the premise that the universe is intelligible despite having no empirical evidence for this premise. He believes it in order to do it. Or consider that science would be problematic if scientists did not believe in telling the truth. Lying advances people’s careers in business and politics. Why shouldn’t scientists do the same thing? Why have a commitment to truth?

It causes me to cringe to see a fundamentalist try to deal with geology and evolution especially in debate with a scientifically minded atheist. It can be great sport to bait and mock the unlearned. But I feel the same way when that same atheist tries to make some normative moral claim. This is why Catholics make atheists look as ridiculous as any fundamentalist. The atheist simply doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He or she must appeal to some metaphysical standard. The scientific attempt to come up with normative morality is about as successful as the philosophical attempt to do the same after Nietzsche pronounced the “death of God.” Ultimately, the atheist must concede that without God all things are permissible.

Atheism leads inevitably to nihilism. Nihilism is simply a belief in a universe devoid of transcendant meaning. Nihilism is death both mentally and spiritually. It is the abyss. Evil as defined by the Catholics is simply the absence of good. Nihilism empties the good out of what exists leaving despair, confusion, and a desire to die. The best an atheist can do is forget momentarily that his or her existence is fundamentally empty.

The Christian sees meaning in everything. Everything has purpose to the Christian. But is it real? This is an absurd question. Does the drowning man ask if the life preserver tossed to him is real? We believe in order to live. This is true even of the atheist. Even the atheist who remains alive chooses to do so in the hope that his science and philosophy will yield some sort of answer to his or her existential dilemma. So, we believe in order to understand. We hope in order to go on living.

This brings us to the fundamental point where science and religion meet. This is the miracle. Miracles are where the supernatural intrudes into the natural. Do miracles exist? For the person of faith, the answer is yes. For the materialist, the answer is no. The issue of miracles can never be resolved. Here’s why.

Christians believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ. This can never be scientifically tested. The same applies to the Resurrection or appearances of the Blessed Mother. The one miracle that can be tested is the Real Presence as a Catholic priest turns bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ. But a scientific examination of the elements will only show bread and wine. But what if they actually showed flesh and blood? The scientist will simply conclude it was merely a clever trick, and the priest is nothing more than a clever magician on par with a Vegas nightclub act. I doubt that any event can ever satisfy the mind of a skeptic. This is because miracles go against the presupposition of science which is that all natural events are the products of natural causes. Conversely, no true Catholic doubts the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass no matter what the scientist may say.

This may seem ridiculous and stupid, but we engage in these sort of things on a daily basis. For instance, take a stop sign. The scientist can tell us that it is made of metal and paint and has a sign and symbol that many agree on as a command to stop at an intersection. But if we reduce it, the sign doesn’t mean anything at all. It is just paint on metal. The meaning is something we bring to it. That meaning has no material existence whatsoever. It doesn’t exist in the tangible world. That meaning possesses no physical attributes. But we believe it. It is real despite not having a physical existence. This probably seems absurd to you at this point. But here is why it is important.

Everything in the world can either be sanctified or diminished in this way. For me, the stop sign is turned into a command to stop. For the materialist, it is purely an object. For me, a person is a human being made in God’s image. For the materialist, it is simply a body no different than any other animal. For the physicist, it is the Higgs boson. For the skeptic, it is merely the lie of a scientist wanting the billions spent on a supercollider to be worth it. You may scoff at this, but we already see how scientists will lie for pharmaceutical companies and tobacco companies.

Our understanding of reality rests on faith not evidence. Faith precedes evidence. We believe in order to understand, to function, and to be fully human. We may get it wrong and make mistakes. But we can never live without faith. We take it on faith that scientists tell us the truth. We believe math accurately describes our universe though numbers have no material existence in themselves. And God may or may not exist. But the only thing science can say is that God is not a material being. This is what Christians already profess.

Science is simply the description of what our senses tell us about the universe. Beyond that, it is speculation. The belief that the universe is intelligible and orderly is virtually identical to what the ancient Greeks believed which was the Logos. The Logos is a huge concept for those Greeks, but I can only sum it up as the basic ordering principle of the universe. The Christians especially St. John said that the Logos and Christ were the same. The Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. The Logos is what gives meaning to the universe. The Logos is the light of existence.

To say that the Logos does not exist is to say that existence does not exist. The Logos is why we know anything at all. I think this is what St. Augustine was getting at. He clearly understood the concept of the Logos. And St. John explicitly tied the revealed religion of Christianity to the natural religion of those philosophers. Faith was no mere starting point. Faith is understanding.

To end on a practical note, I think it best to let science be science and let religion be religion. Whatever conflicts may exist will be resolved in the future. How do I know this? I don’t know it. I just believe it.

[SOC]

So, being married is killing me as a blogger. I know. I hardly write anymore since getting married. The reason for this is because I spend many hours conversing with my wife. This is because we actually like each other's company. But I still have time to write. The thing is that I spend most of that time reading. My thinking is heading in new directions these days, and I have to feed my brain.

I am embracing the Catholic faith. This requires some reading. Unlike becoming a Baptist, there is some book learning with becoming a Catholic. And why would I do something as crazy as become a Catholic? It is because they are right.

For those who know me, they will recall that I was a Protestant Christian in my twenties where I started out as an evangelical Baptist and migrated to a staunch Calvinism and became a Presbyterian. I attended seminary where my faith took a massive hit when I found my roommate's cold dead body in his bedroom at 6 am one morning. He had committed suicide. It troubled me. I was to learn later that he was an in the closet homosexual racked by guilt and self-revulsion. Calvinism gave him some solace with a belief in sola fide, but it did little for him in actually living it out or being accepted in the church.

My faith left me as I contemplated how a loving God could let one of his own be so tormented like that. But reading the history of the Catholic church or contemplating Christ on the cross simply shows that suffering is a normal part of a Christian's journey. Calvinists would agree, but you won't get sympathy being gay in a Calvinist church. You will in a Catholic church.

The suicide taught me that ideas have terrible consequences. The way you think has a large bearing on how you live or whether or not that existence is even tolerable. If you are gay, I don't recommend that you embrace Calvinism and attempt to become a Presbyterian minister. It is not going to do a lot for your psyche.

Atheism gave me a break from the austerity of Calvinism and also let me off the hook for everything subsequent. In the atheist world, you are your own god. You can do as you will. There is no guilt. Well, actually, the guilt never really leaves you. You just sublimate it better. The only thing atheism does for you is give you an expectation that is no longer justified by logic. Life as an atheist is mere suspension over the abyss of nihilism.

I spent the next decade studying philosophy in my spare hours attempting to answer my questions and address this nihilism. Switching from Calvinism to atheism is like switching from arsenic to cyanide. My political conservatism morphed into libertarianism. Being a libertine will do that to you. I spent the years in the caustic acid bath of nihilism. It did not improve me morally whatsoever. It merely provoked in me a stunning level of anger and hatred.

If Calvinism was the thesis and atheism was the antithesis, Catholicism is the synthesis of sorts. I can't stop believing in scientific truth, but I also can't escape this hardwired moral sensibility within me. Catholicism bridges this gap.

I think there are two basic types of atheists. You have your Sartre style atheists that embrace it all, become complete nihilists, and disgrace themselves by excusing the atrocities of Stalin. Then, you have Camus style atheists who accept the truth as they see it but would prefer it if there actually was a God. I have always been a Camus atheist.

I have attended various Protestant churches over the last decade leaving cold and empty. Going to a Catholic church has provoked in me waves of massive guilt but also hope. It is like having bandages taken off your eyes and letting the light sting those unused eyes. This is that moral sense in me getting a fresh workout once again.

This is where I am today. I'm sorry for not writing more. I just have a lot on my plate these days.