Sunday, September 19, 2010
Richard Dawkins has some blunt words for the Pope.
On the face of it, I agree with Dawkins that the Pope's comments regarding the threat of atheism are entirely a misdirection: "The Vatican is terribly sorry about the pedophilia, but hey! Look! Atheist Nazis!" I don't know if Godwin's Law is recognized by the Vatican, or if some sort of council needs to be convened for the Holy See to recognize why the pulling out of the "Hitler-Atheist" meme isn't actually going to help them. Regardless: the Pope shouldn't have gone there in the first damn place.
The question is actually irrelevant. Evidence can certainly be gathered from the writings of the authors of the Third Reich detailing their employment of the Church for propaganda, their dismantling of the various Freethinkers' organizations and their disavowal of Darwin, even down to the "Gott Mit Uns" on the SS belt buckles, that there was a distinctive Christian outlook fostered by the Nazi regime.
But they were "no true Christians", obviously, in the sense Christian believers hold dear. Or at any rate, they don't represent the best of what Christianity is alleged to stand for, according to Christians. But I fail to see how Nazis were responsible for children being sexually abused in Ireland, Belgium, Australia, the U.S. and Canada, in the Philippines, or anywhere else in the world, by ordained Catholic clergy. Maybe the Nazis "really were" deep down skeptical that a retributive God who would burn their ugly-hearted asses in Hell existed--therefore "no true Christians"--
But are we going to say also "No true Priests" assaulted children, wrecked lives, swore victims to secrecy? Because if they were "no true priests"--shouldn't they then have been cast out? They weren't. So were the Bishops and Cardinals who allowed the abuse to persist and aided in the cover-up also "no true Catholics"?
As for the claim that current-day atheists mean to eradicate religion--maybe not exactly. Diminish belief, eradicate superstition, sure. Hold up a standard of verifiability. Encourage critical thought. We aren't exactly at war with believers, after all: we mostly just want to encourage independent thought and support the rights of believers to question their own beliefs. Just as they shouldn't be at war with us....
If they thought we still had souls to save. Alleging we're as bad as Nazis isn't exactly getting on our "good" side.
Dawkins' excoriation of the Pope is harsh, but warranted. If the Pontiff means to make amends, he should address the wrongs done to his flock, before trying to warn the world of what any atheists might be about.