William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Herd Immunity And Christianity

I’m fine. Why should I be vaccinated?

There on that hillock is a herd of cattle, all but one of which is inoculated against hoof-and-mouth disease. Chances are the one beast that escaped vaccination won’t fall ill since that malady is spread fastest in herds where lots of individuals are infected. And here, of course, none can become infected. There will be no other cows to pass the disease to our iconoclast.

Such are the dry facts. But suppose our lone bovine, recognizing its unique status, were to say to the other cows, “Moo”, which translated is, “Vaccinations are bad for you. Vaccinations take the savor from the taste of grass and cause our calves to stare too much. Look at me. I’m not vaccinated and I never get sick, I love grass, and my calf doesn’t stare.”

The cow—stick with me, we’re almost there; the title will make sense, I promise—would thus sound like any one of a dozen Hollywood actresses who with wild eyes and intense convictions take to the airways and announce they are “against” vaccinations. One lady summed up the now common suspicion of vaccines thusly:

  1. “Pharmaceutical Companies Can’t Be Trusted”—they’re only in it for themselves.
  2. “ALL Vaccines are Loaded with Chemicals and other Poisons”—they do more harm than good.
  3. “Fully Vaccinated Children are the Unhealthiest, Most Chronically Ill Children I Know”—it’s child abuse!
  4. “Other Countries Are Waking Up to the Dangers of Vaccines”—not everybody believes as we do.
  5. “You Can Always Get Vaccinated, But You Can Never Undo a Vaccination”—things cannot be unseen, either.

We’re finally ready for our ridiculously stretched analogy.

The call of the Enlightened is to remove religion from the public sphere. The joys that await The People when this happens are promised to be many and deep. Yet the percentage of Enlightened are small and they, like the majority, bask in the fruits of religion, for example like hospitals, peace, charity, science, and more importantly the desire for these things if not always the things themselves. Once religion is banished, these desires will wane and even disappear.

The Enlightened are thus like vain Hollywood actresses who are sure vaccination (religion) is the cause of many evils. They are immune like the lone cow is immune from the evils caused by the absence of vaccination (religion). Since they don’t fall ill, protected as they are by the inoculated (religious) around them, they are sure they will never fall ill, and that their non-inoculated (religion-free) states are superior.

And just look at what happens to those who are vaccinated (catechized)! Autism (ignorance), immune system (susceptibility) and neurologic disorders (credulity), hyperactivity (ditto), learning disabilities (ignorance), multiple sclerosis (fixity of vision), and many other disorders.

On the whole, vaccines cause more diseases than they cure. Vaccines are child abuse! The vaccine didn’t do me any personal good, therefore it doesn’t do any good to anybody. Best to eliminate them and the diseases which everybody fears, which are really caused by imbalance with nature, will disappear of their own accord. Belief in “invisible friends” discourages belief in reality. Religion is a threat to rationality and science, which is defined as the absence of religion.

Why, remove Christianity and we can remove that last vestiges of art as beauty, everybody can be an artist, everybody is an artist. We can go back to the old days (the really old days) and get going strong on polygamy, incest (why not?), abortion, infanticide, euthanasia (voluntary and otherwise). Sure, Christianity brought us the university, but only to promulgate philosophy and metaphysics. Science (as now defined) has removed the need for these outmoded concepts.

Sure, religion brought us hospitals and the idea that the sick should be cured. But this slows down evolution, which too many people want to stop. We have the tools we need now to enhance and perfect the human race.

Okay, so all this is weak. It’s just me thinking out loud, playing; filler for a slow day. Our generation, perhaps because we were given the best toys, concentrate on the now and forget the past. Too many of us not only have no memory of the benefits religion brought us, but have turned history upside down and believe it was religion that has held back progress. This implausible story has been debunked countless times (see esp. Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies) but the debunking never sticks.

People have an active interest in seeing it doesn’t. Another sign that the herd immunity is weakening.

43 Comments

  1. This essay is a good example of an overgeneralization — implicit is that “Christianity” is homogenous in its beliefs relative to what is important to society.

    “Christianity” is very very very diverse, inconsistent; adherents embrace mutually exclusive beliefs and values under the banner “Christianity” such that the term, often, has little meaningful relevance without additional clarification.

    For R. Catholics, teaching evolution, astronomy (including the “Big Bang”) and so on is no problem; this is in large part to a recognition that much of the reference document is allegorical & needs to be interpreted accordingly.

    To a fundamentalist/evangelist those anti-creation/intelligent-design views acceptable to R. Catholics are not only heretical, they are demonstrably scientifically false; this is in large part via a recognition that much of the same reference document is literal and must be interpreted as such.

    Given that Texas, for example, by its size effectively drives what textbooks are chosen elsewhere (pretty much the majority of the USA) due to its effect on economies of scale & unit textbook prices…and…Texas generally finds science at odds with the proper literal interpretation of the key reference material, classroom teachings of science suffers–even after the courts have intervened (about creationism/intelligent design — which while religious do-gooders asserted were different their own source materials proved, in court, they were in fact one-and-the-same…which in layman’s terms is that certain evangelical groups lied…and many are still lying about this). It is this variation of “Christianity” the “Enlightened” Briggs mentions primarily target with vigor, and significantly for the anti-science nonsense foisted into our classrooms.

    To argue from an undefined position of “Christianity” (and what happens next if….) simply obfuscates & oversimplifies reality by presupposing things are much simpler than they really are. “Christianity”–one term, many many different meanings. One needs to define what is meant by that term, because in actual practice it encompasses a lot of disputed territory and embraces a number of values that are at cross-purposes.

  2. One argument for forced vaccination is supposedly to protect others but it would seem a vaccination only protects those who are vaccinated from succumbing to whatever illness but doesn’t necessarily mean the vaccinated person can’t carry and spread a disease to those not vaccinated.

    Yes, the herd will be better but if one is vaccinated does it really matter that there are those who are not?

    Applying this to your analogy: yes, the herd will be better but so what? If others are not religious (vaccinated) but you are, why should it matter? I mean outside of being a pushy missionary/do-gooder?

    You seem to be making the argument for forced indoctrination.
    Are you?

  3. I’m not sure herd immunity is the best analogy for scoffers benefiting from the social capital accrued by dozens of generations of (more or less) devout living, but it does reveal the crucial point that at some level of prevalence, scoffing will eat up all the social capital and cause civilizational catastrophe. No culture without a cult. My own thoughts on “Deep Heritage” are (offerred humbly) here.

    In all ages everywhere, ignoring or flaunting social norms usually causes all kinds of harm, both to the individual and to society at large by degrading social trust and cohesion. Taboos usually exist for good reasons, even when those reasons cannot be well articulated, and those who flaunt them pretty much deserve social opprobrium.

    Yet in every age (at least since the Psalmist, “why do the wicked prosper”) there have been a small minority who prosper in spite of their rejection of social norms. Usually this is because of great wealth and power (they’d win anyway), but rarely in human history has such rule-breaking itself been raised to the level of a virtue. In fact, if you’d payed attention only to Hollywood movies for the last 60 years or so, you’d be forgiven for believing Rule-breaking had become the last standing Cardinal Virtue.

    This has something, I think, to do with unprecedented and pathological levels of Narcissism in the West. It’s no longer enough to violate norms and get away with it, i.e., sponge off the cultural capital of the majority. No. You must violate the norms and get away with it AND feel good about yourself whilst doing it. Those norms are evil. You are a hero for violating them. The norms themselves are evil, and moreso those narrow-minded hypocrites who want people to live by them, or at least not be rewarded for breaking them. This is, I think, the new thing. And it makes modernity suck a lot worse than it should.

  4. You seem to be making the argument for forced indoctrination.
    Are you?

    My reading of Briggs is the much more modest point that you shouldn’t advocate getting rid of immunization and shouldn’t treat your lack of it as some sort of virtue. The honest non-immunee (like say John Derbyshire or Dennis Mangan) would recognize that he still benefits from herd immunity and be glad its there.

  5. Yet in every age (at least since the Psalmist, “why do the wicked prosper”)

    There are those who would argue that prospering is itself wicked.

  6. My reading of Briggs is the much more modest point that you shouldn’t advocate getting rid of immunization and shouldn’t treat your lack of it as some sort of virtue.

    Perhaps but isn’t that itself arguing that one should not argue for what is believed?

  7. DAV: To answer your question in terms of vaccines–yes, it does matter to those who are vaccinated that others are not. Children have died from whooping cough because a baby cannot be vaccinated until 2 months of age. The choice is then to keep your baby home for the first 2 months (no doctor visits, etc, unless you cover the baby completely to avoid someone coughing or sneezing near enough to the child to cause infection) or take a chance the baby will get whooping cough. One can also ban all unvaccinated children and adults from areas where very young babies are. I suppose we could just write of the 1 or 2 percent of babies that die from the disease and say it’s worth it for others to not be subjected to the vaccine.

    People don’t live in tiny bubbles that keep anything anyone else does from affecting them. Morality, disease, government or any other entity affects people as a group. You simply can’t say (well, you can but you’d be wrong) “What I do does not hurt anyone else” unless you live alone in cave in the back woods, and even then there is a tiny margin of error in the statement. You could perhaps contaminate a stream, eat animals to extinction, etc. What someone does affects many other people. It’s the way reality works. Reject it if you wish, but it doesn’t make it go away.

  8. . One can also ban all unvaccinated children and adults from areas where very young babies are.

    That statement is what I was driving at. It’s not at all clear that being vaccinated prevents one from being a carrier. It seems to me that vaccination is self protection.

  9. Ye Olde Statisician

    27 December 2013 at 10:43 am

    Ken makes the error of supposing that Christian beliefs are what Christians believe. But rather they are what the Magisterium and Holy Traditions teach. Both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which together comprise two-thirds of the world’s Christians, hold this position and while they differ in a number of details, they differ hardly at all in core beliefs. (The main differences are in how those beliefs are articulated, and which beliefs are designated as dogmatic. The latter in turn depends on which heresies most afflicted that lobe of Christendom.)

    An Orthodox theologian once characterized fundamentalists like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Bible Shack as one small step away from atheism. They have substituted for the collective beliefs of the Church throughout the world and time their own personal beliefs (or those of some charismatic m/u/l/l/a/h preacher). From “my truth” to “no truth” is the work of a moment, as when a 9-year old Dawkins “just knew” there was no God. So, many of those of whom Ken complains are simply the Late Modern malaise manifested among Christians on the fringes of the herd, those most likely to be picked off by predators. Some people receive a weakened or adulterated batch of the vaccine.

  10. DAV: Okay. I see what you mean. I found this:
    So the kids who were vaccinated as babies are protected but they can still be carriers?
With IPV you are protected, but you will still shed the virus. Your goal [with vaccination] is the person doesn’t get polio when you vaccinate and also they don’t spread it. With IPV you protect the individual but don’t do as much to protect the gut and protect the community. With OPV you get both protection of the individual and the community.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-israels-new-polio

    This is on the “dead” (IPV) versus “live” (OPV) vaccine for polio. I am not sure if it applies to other vaccines. In this case, the answer to your question seems to be dependent on the version of the vaccine that was used.

  11. Perhaps but isn’t that itself arguing that one should not argue for what is believed?

    Well I wouldn’t presume to argue for Briggs, but my take on it is that there is in any society a (more or less) coherent set of norms that people (more or less) live by, and that these play a role in the adaptive success of the society. (They may in fact be eternal truth as well, but that is not strictly necessary.) It turns out of course if you look at the content of diverse moral codes, you don’t really find successful, i.e., civilized, societies that don’t have the final 7 (by RCC counting) of the ten commandments. And this makes sense because if socially enforced moral norms did not contribute to the adaptive success of various cultures, then they’d be a heckuva lot more random than they actually are. So if you’re arguing for an ammendment to one of these 7, then you’re on shaky ground to begin with, but even so, again ignoring for the moment whether these represent eternal truth (or whether eternal truth even exists), you’re still destabilizing the society, eroding social trust, etc. Now as long as such “Advocacy” is safe, legal, and rare, I suppose a healthy society will survive it, but once Advocacy of Rule-Breaking becomes sufficiently widespread, social capital will get burnt up in a few short generations.

  12. “This essay is a good example of an overgeneralization — implicit is that “Christianity” is homogenous in its beliefs relative to what is important to society.”

    As a strong general rule, practicing Christians have a -very- strong repugnance to:
    -) Corruption (lying, deception, etc, etc, etc, etc),
    -) Violence (Murder, rape, ),
    -) Theft (blue-collar, white-collar, taxation, etc),
    -) Collectivism (i.e. relating to personal responsibility, freedom of thought – expression – etc, etc.)

    I could go on: the list is amazingly long. The anti-list very much more so.

    The general hippie – leftist – atheist has some MILD repugnance to these things, depending upon the individual. And that mostly due to being infected with these values as a child in a somewhat-Christian environment.

    Now imagine a large group of practicing Christians, and living there. Now imagine a large group of practicing Atheists, and living there.
    This is not debatable, it cannot be (properly) argued against: it is just what is.

    Having has some unpleasant dealing with some corrupt online Hungarians recently, I can now say that the general manners, mentality, speech, etc, of a scammer-in-action is fairly identical to that of a leftist – activist. Recognition took a little while, if only because it was unexpected: but then the -reality- of worthless a-holes always manages to surprise me.

    These things listed above are ALL observable in the real world. In short, leftists truly are the children of the devil: FACT. All else is clutter.

  13. May I point you in the direction of one Tony Blair, ex-Prime Minister of the UK.
    “Teflon Tony” as practiced a political rogue & liar as any of them and a Catholic.
    Christianity is like any other religion, largely a load of bollocks.
    Just because somebody’s a Christian, it doesn’t preclude them from being a thief & a murderer. Cast your eyes through any history of the world and the devout Christian will be there, merrily robbing, raping, enslaving & murdering. If it’s a “heathen”, so much the better, but if it’s a member of another Christian sect, well, so much the better as they’re heretics!

  14. Ye Olde Statisician

    27 December 2013 at 4:50 pm

    “Teflon Tony” as practiced a political rogue & liar as any of them and a Catholic.

    From which one deduces one’s political allegiances. But I recall that he converted after he was out of office.

    Just because somebody’s a Christian, it doesn’t preclude them from being a thief & a murderer.

    Of course not. What part of “all men are sinners” failed to register? Or the business about the Church being a hospital, not a country club? What the Christian does have is a well-developed body of knowledge by which to say that these things are wrong. (And even under what circumstance theft is okay.)

    Christianity is like any other religion, largely a load of bollocks.

    Who can take seriously a religion that commands us to love our enemies, do good to those who attack us, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, which invented hospitals, orphanages, and universities, which nurtured within its ambit natural philosophy and (alas, too briefly) the quaint notion that the State was not the be-all and end-all of human life. To a certain frame of mind this is indeed “bollocks.”

  15. “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

    What sustains a cancer patient receiving a 2nd line treatment failure diagnosis? What overcomes the fear and fright of the Soldier engaged in battle? Try surviving these as a practicing atheist. When death looms, those without faith, die horribly, painfully, and alone. I’ve watched it. Joined the Enlightened Heard; await death.

  16. Briggs

    27 December 2013 at 6:36 pm

    DAV,

    You have, not unusually, asked the best question. “You seem to be making the argument for forced indoctrination. Are you?”

    No. At least, no more than the inoculations we have now are “mandatory”. But they are seen as so usual and necessary that the social pressure is enough to keep up rates. I would go so far as the government recommending but not requiring. The hard part is keeping the government from crossing that line, which it everywhere is doing now.

  17. “Just because somebody’s a Christian, it doesn’t preclude them from being a thief & a murderer.”

    Rather say: “Just because someone CALLS themselves a Christian…”

    But that is obvious. You are unlikely to be unaware of this. You -are- likely to be a lying, filthy, leftist – atheist, playing debate-dabate (hence Rom 1:29).
    Your utter lack of respect for the true state of things proves my very point, you despicable hell-spawn.

    In -general-, practicing Christians are -very- much against those things.

    In -general-, the practicing Atheist – leftist has only, possibly, a mild (personal) distaste for such activities. Unless raised in a Christian environment.

    As an example: consider the reaction of the average leftist to a description of partial-birth abortion, and contrast that to the reaction of the average practicing Christian.

    A practicing Muslim can blow up a bus full of (infidel) children for Allah, and be applauded by his-her peers.
    A practicing Atheist – leftist – socialist can blow up a bus full of children (e.g. of anti-socialists), for sake of The Cause, and be applauded by his-her peers (off the record, of course).
    A practicing Christian can blow up a bus full of children for… heck if I know; BUT he-she will NOT be applauded by his-her peers.

    It takes mindless ‘arguments’ from mindless ‘debaters’ to work at trying to obfuscate the obvious truth: hippies are lying, filthy, murderous, excrement. Hippies will all go to Hell, since that is where all those who choose to be – stay (human) filth is to be deposited.

    Repent, or burn.

    Shrug. Of course you will not repent: after all you are not ignorant of your choices, you merely lie about them.

  18. Perhaps a statement of the extremely obvious would be fitting:

    You become a Christian when you ask the Lord to be His.

    After that, the onus is on you to read the bible, and do what is in it: i.e. to PRACTICE not lying, not killing, caring -deeply- about the truth, hating wickedness, etc etc etc.

    Building hospitals and the like are examples of individuals who are PRACTICING not being scum.

    The expression is practice makes perfect, but in the real world practice merely makes BETTER.

    A group of practicing Christians therefore WORK at not being scum.

    Now contrast such a group with a group of atheists, socialists, etc: not only do they NOT practice being scum, they have ZERO reason not be scum – just consider how utterly uncaring hippies are about liars whom they support, vs those they do not. Consider how little they care about 3rd-term abortion. Consider how they continue to support to total ban of DDT (as opposed to a sensible partial ban.) The list is as endless as the list of the greatest evils committed in this world.

    Death, oceans of drops of misery, carpets woven from individual lies. Evil. Wherever hippies are in charge, there is pervasive evil.

    For the fact is this: if you practice something, you are bound to become a least SOMEWHAT competent at it. Not a little bit more competent, as the hippies would argue, but significantly more so.

    Obvious. Simple. Yet the hippies use debate as the weapon against truth it naturally is… and Christians in general LET them. After all, if it were admitted that atheists, in general, are scum… then there would be no ‘communication’ with them… but such would be biblical, now would it not, and therefore it is condemned by the world, and all those non-practicing Christians who infest the churches.

  19. This post is a perfect example of the type of poor reasoning which leads to the belief in God.

  20. Ye Olde Statisician

    28 December 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Considering that it’s not arguing for that, it must be really poor. We look forward to the specific fallacies which you will no doubt shortly point out.

  21. The entire OP is full of straw-man arguments. As if defeating those arguments strengthens the idea that there is a God and that Religion is a force of good. Nonsense.

    Even Briggs acknowledges this by saying “Okay, so all this is weak.”

  22. And I should have added — it’s the lack of evidence that God exists that causes people to engage in such weak arguments.

  23. Ye Olde Statisician

    28 December 2013 at 9:40 pm

    How do those arguments “strengthen the idea” that God exists?

    What I saw was a pragmatic case that certain beliefs “inoculate” the population to particular ills in a manner analogous to vaccinations, and that the population has a “resistance” to “moral epidemics” provided only that “enough” individuals have been immunized. This can be true regardless whether the God exists, so long as the belief exists.

    If the post was full of straw men, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to trot one out for all to see.

  24. Well said, YOS.
    Jim S: There are no arguments that prove God exist. Never was, probably never will be. There are also no arguments proving that God does not exist (yes, that would be proving a negative). It’s not about arguing whether God exists. As YOS said, this is about the belief that God exists and the results.

  25. “Why, remove Christianity and we can remove that last vestiges of art as beauty, everybody can be an artist, everybody is an artist. We can go back to the old days (the really old days) and get going strong on polygamy, incest (why not?), abortion, infanticide, euthanasia (voluntary and otherwise).”

    @ Ye Olde: You don’t see anything wrong with this argument? This is sound reasoning?

    “….bask in the fruits of religion, for example like hospitals, peace, charity, science,…. ” Seriously?

  26. And should I create a list of all the horrors that religion has wrought upon society?

    But I’m sure anything I put forth would be shot down as not really “being part of religion”. We’ll, this is strictly true – since there is no objective foundation upon which religion rests, it’s possible to both include and exclude anything that is convenient. It’a a non-finite, non-falsifiable hypothesis that god exists, so anything can be attributed to him (or not) since no proof is ever offered up.

  27. Briggs, can you, please, put a “share” button to LiveJournal?

  28. Ye Olde Statisician

    29 December 2013 at 2:47 pm

    “Why, remove Christianity and we can remove that last vestiges of art as beauty, everybody can be an artist, everybody is an artist. We can go back to the old days (the really old days) and get going strong on polygamy, incest (why not?), abortion, infanticide, euthanasia (voluntary and otherwise).”

    @ Ye Olde: You don’t see anything wrong with this argument? This is sound reasoning?

    It’s not an argument at all. Granted, the waning of religion has led to art divorced from beauty, as well as to abortion and euthanasia, but much of this is accessible to natural law reasoning, which one religion does teach. Granted, too, that much of this was common before the rise of that one religion. But Aristotle, promoted also by that one religion, also taught the art of the beautiful beforehand. But I believe Dr. Briggs’ plaint has to do with the fate of the collapsing Western Civilization rather than with civilization, per se; that is, with the removal of Christianity from Christendom.

    “….bask in the fruits of religion, for example like hospitals, peace, charity, science,…. ” Seriously?

    Let’s not confuse an historical perspective with some sort of universalistic Theoretical perspective. The love of Theory is the root of all evil, or something like that. We can certainly imagine a world in which these things arose absent Christianity, but we are for the most part stuck with the world that actually happened.

    Gone are the days when the naked priest of Mars annually danced forth from his temple and threw the spear of war in some random direction influenced by the drugs he took and the legions marched in that direction to fight whomever they encountered. Gone indeed the days in which the Athenians could say to the Melians, “The way of the world is that the strong take what they can and the weak suffer what they must” to justify their unprovoked attack on that neutral city-state. And of course now that Christendom has birthed them, other cultures may maintain hospitals and science for their proven benefits. At least for a time. (Hospitals are already morphing into for-profit corporations.)

    And should I create a list of all the horrors that religion has wrought upon society?

    What is “religion”? Is there in fact an objectively defined object of study? Prior to Christianity, there was no distinction between the binding rituals of the State and the other aspects of the State. (In Greece and Rome, the priesthoods were elected offices of the government.) So the actions of, say, the priesthood of Mars are indistinguishable from the will of the Senate and People of Rome.

  29. “What is “religion”? Is there in fact an objectively defined object of study?”

    Well, no there is not. Because God does not exist. Thus, to quote myself:

    “….since there is no objective foundation upon which religion rests, it’s possible to both include and exclude anything that is convenient.”

  30. Ye Olde Statisician

    29 December 2013 at 3:17 pm

    “What is “religion”? Is there in fact an objectively defined object of study?”

    Well, no there is not. Because God does not exist.

    You misunderstand. There might well be religion whether God exists or no. Many classical religions — of the Greeks, the Egyptians, et al. — did not postulate a God (although the Greeks were ultimately driven in that direction by logic). The question is whether things that are normally classed as “religions” are really instantiations of the same sort of thing. If Finnish shamanism the same kind of thing as Theravada Buddhism? Is Confucian ancestor-worship the same kind of thing as Hinduism?

    If as you have just said there is no such thing as religion, how can there be a list of horrors which religion has wrought?

  31. Briggs

    29 December 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Igor,

    I’ll look into it. Never heard of it before. Thanks.

  32. Fletcher Christian

    1 January 2014 at 6:59 pm

    “As a strong general rule, practicing Christians have a -very- strong repugnance to:
    -) Corruption (lying, deception, etc, etc, etc, etc),
    -) Violence (Murder, rape, ),
    -) Theft (blue-collar, white-collar, taxation, etc),
    -) Collectivism (i.e. relating to personal responsibility, freedom of thought – expression – etc, etc.)”

    Interesting list. Let’s see how the Catholic Church does according to those standards:

    Corruption: Widespread corruption in the Vatican Bank, which is run by Catholics many of them priests. Cover-ups of filthy perversions (which, incidentally, are also breaches of their vows) by Catholic priests.
    Violence: For many years, IRA violence was given the nod by Irish priests – including mass murder. In addition, sadistic brutality in Catholic schools run by monks and nuns is widespread. (I was a victim of it – a 9-year-old being caned hard enough to draw blood is NOT acceptable by anyone decent.)
    Theft: See Vatican Bank, above. In addition, the vast amount of gold, silver and jewels in the possession of the Catholic Church might be and has been called theft.
    Collectivism: Obedience is one of the primary tenets of the Catholic Church. Freedom of thought, at least in certain matters, does not exist.

    Ask yourself a question. If Christ came back tomorrow, what would he think of and do to the Vatican?

  33. You fail to understand what a “practing Christian” is. If they are doing all of the above, they are practing Christians.

  34. Ye Olde Statisician

    1 January 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Ah, Fletch. You may have missed that part about the Church being a hospital for sinners not a country club for saints. No one supposes that because someone ignore the tenets, tenets themselves are faulty. One must further distinguish between that which is essentially the case from that which is annexed to it. For example, caning students for misbehavior may have more to do with the national culture than with a universal religion. I too went through Catholic schools and never heard of such a thing.

    When you say that “the vast amount of gold, silver and jewels in the possession of the Catholic Church might be and has been called theft,” you might reflect that it might be called a ring-tailed wombat, too; but that doesn’t make it so. Granted, national governments seized much of this during the Enlightenment, but the theft was on the part of the secular state.

    One might also check what the common approach by psychologists was in the 1970s when the homosexual priest scandals were happening. As usual, when the Church defers to Science, it often turns out the Science was bad advice.

  35. Fletcher Christian

    1 January 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Ye Olde Statisician – Sure. However, it appears to me (and many others, I might add) that if the Church is a hospital for sinners then it’s a mental hospital, run by the inmates.

    As for the colossal riches of the Church – well, if the stuff isn’t stolen then it is at the very least obtained under false pretenses – which is also immoral everywhere and illegal in most places.

    BTW, I couldn’t care less about homosexual priests – although the Church itself supposedly does. Paedophilia (or ephebophilia, in some cases, which is sometimes a more correct word) does, however, get my goat. That particular brand of pervert shouldn’t be a priest. Or a Catholic, for that matter.

  36. Ye Olde Statisician

    1 January 2014 at 11:22 pm

    “it appears to me … that if the Church is a hospital for sinners then it’s a mental hospital, run by the inmates.”

    Certainly it would appear that way to you.

    “As for the colossal riches of the Church…”

    These have been estimated for the Vatican at about the same level as the endowment of Harvard. Much of it consists of an artistic patrimony held in trust for mankind, and as such not alienable.

    “…it is at the very least obtained under false pretenses…”

    How so?

    “I couldn’t care less about homosexual priests – although the Church itself supposedly does. Paedophilia (or ephebophilia, in some cases…) does, however, get my goat.”

    Not just “some” cases. 80% of the cases involved ephebophilia by homosexual priests on young men. (Nationally, 67% of such cases involve man-girl, so there is a very definite difference in the kind of men involved.) That is, the Church scandal was almost exclusively chicken-hawking. There was very little man-girl and virtually no pedophilia.

  37. Fletcher Christian

    2 January 2014 at 6:29 am

    Hmmm… Interesting information there. Of course, the data you quote is about reported cases, which are almost certainly a minority.

    Regarding ephebophilia vs. paedophilia; personally, I think the distinction is important. While both are reprehensible, IMHO the former isn’t as much so. I can understand the attraction of young, but sexually mature, people (though I certainly don’t intend to do anything about it!) but really can’t understand the attraction that prepubescent children hold for some.

    And BTW, attraction to teenage boys (or girls) isn’t illegal and isn’t all that immoral – who’s going to know, anyway? – although it may be sinful. (I don’t know all that much about what the Catholic Church defines as sinful.) If it’s sinful, it isn’t seriously so.

    Doing something about it is.

  38. Fletcher: Are you saying we should ignore sinful behaviour? Yet you object to sex with children. Why? If teach children that is normal, they know no different, according to the secular world. Teach them sex with adults is okay and they’ll buy it. Worked pretty well for homosexuality–we now beat up those who call it a sin instead of those that practice it. A marked improvement, don’t you think? After all, trying to label and stop sin is bad and wrong, but apparently not a sin in itself?

  39. Fletcher Christian

    2 January 2014 at 10:42 am

    Sheri – What I’m saying is that impulses to immoral action are not in themselves immoral. They might be sinful, but not very much so – “having carnal thoughts” is something a Catholic confesses to his priest (I believe), but it doesn’t seem to be taken all that seriously.

    Giving in to such impulses is immoral and may be unlawful – whether the latter is the case depends on where one lives.

    I would also like to mention a very large disparity in public opinion regarding two very similar situations. If a man (such as a teacher, perhaps) very much older than a young girl seduces her, he is thought of by most as a dirty old man and almost universally despised, and the girl thought of as a victim. If a woman seduces a teenage boy in similar circumstances, the general reaction is very much different. Why?

  40. Fletcher: Okay, I think I understand. I am not used to thinking from a Catholic perspective, it seems.

    I have no answer to your question. It’s one I ask constantly and never get an answer to. There was even a television show that clearly ignored/grudgingly approved of pedophila because the woman was 21 and the male partner was 15. Had it been the other way around, I would have anticipated an outcry. Makes no sense, but then again a high school guy will keep track of his “conquests” yet when he becomes a father, he will be furious if his daughter becomes a conquest. It’s not about rational thought, obviously.

  41. Ye Olde Statisician

    2 January 2014 at 11:52 am

    The greatest contumely is reserved for male sex with young men, hence the huge outcry over the homosexual priests. Locally, in the public schools hereabouts there have been three cases of female gym teachers having relationships with a female student. One of them was sentenced to the exquisite torture of wearing an ankle bracelet. Fortunately, she was not a priest.

    Since the overwhelming number of incidents involving priests were cases of post-pubescent (teenaged) men, we must conclude that Fletch was not especially outraged.

  42. Fletcher Christian

    2 January 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Oh, I was. And am. I would be even more so if they had been fiddling with boy children – to be clear, I mean obvious children in this case. It’s especially disgusting for at least four reasons.

    Active homosexuality is a grievous sin according to the Church; very likely, the same priests were denouncing it from the pulpit. Sexual activity of any sort is a grievous sin for an ordained priest, in that he breaks vows that are supposed to be sacred. Priests are in a position of trust in the Church, greatly violated by these acts. And probably worst of all, the hierarchy spends a great deal of effort in covering up this sort of thing and the priests themselves generally remain priests and are presumably therefore entitled to a stipend from the Church – ultimately paid for by the laity, at least in part.

    The first two probably bother Catholics a great deal more than they bother me, BTW. What really bothers me about the Catholic Church is the foetid stench of hypocrisy that rises from just about everything the Church does.

  43. Ye Olde Statisician

    2 January 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Active homosexuality is a grievous sin according to the Church; very likely, the same priests were denouncing it from the pulpit.

    The second part is doubtful. I’ve never heard such a denunciation from the pulpit, myself.

    Sexual activity of any sort is a grievous sin for an ordained priest, in that he breaks vows that are supposed to be sacred.

    Agreed. The same goes for adulterers, and sundry others who have bound themselves by vows. Even politicians have been known to break solemn vows.

    Priests are in a position of trust in the Church, greatly violated by these acts.

    Agreed.

    And probably worst of all, the hierarchy spends a great deal of effort in covering up this sort of thing

    Interesting that you consider this the “worst.” There weren’t many instances of such “covers up,” and much of it was at a time when the best psychological advice was precisely to not make a big deal out of it and deal with it privately. It was also averred by psychologists that counseling would take care of the priests. The bishops accepted this advice and are now blamed for doing so. Put not thy faith in scientists, hey?

    the priests themselves generally remain priests and are presumably therefore entitled to a stipend from the Church

    And therefore also subject to Church discipline. One priest up in Wisconsin about two years ago, the New York Times made a big deal about how he had not been “defrocked” (as if the Church were a Protestant sect). But when he was released from priestly discipline, he went off cruising the gay bars, so the Times shut up about it.

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