Skip to comments.Papal Encyclical Attacks Atheism, Lauds Hope (Reuters Take)
Posted on 11/30/2007 10:50:29 AM PST by Pyro7480
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, in an encyclical released on Friday, said atheism was responsible for some of the "greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice" in history.
The 75-page "Spe Salvi," which takes its Latin title from a quote by St Paul (in hope we were saved), is an appeal to a pessimistic world to find strength in Christian hope.
In the second encyclical of his papacy, Benedict urges Christians to put their hope for the future in God and not in technology, wealth or political ideologies.
Atheism could be regarded by some as a "type of moralism," particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries, to protest against the injustices of the world and world history, he said.
Reciting arguments made by atheists, he said: "A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God."
History has proven wrong ideologies such as Marxism which say humans had to establish social justice because God did not exist, the Pope wrote.
"It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice," the Pope said. Such a concept was grounded in "intrinsic falsity."
Marxism, the Pope wrote, had left behind "a trail of appalling destruction" because it failed to realize that man could not be "merely the product of economic conditions."
The encyclical is the highest form of papal writing and addresses all members of the Church. This document is written in a highly academic, professorial style in which the Pope quotes saints, philosophers and writers to make his point.
Atheism has been a hot topic recently thanks to best-selling books questioning the value of religion such as "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins and "God is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens.
The Pope seemed to be addressing the fresh interest in atheism in the developed world with phrases such as: "Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope."
Italy's Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists (UAAR) said by taking such stands the Pope would push more people away from the Church.
"The existence of a billion non-believers in the world should be enough to make the Pope understand that man can live very well without God, but with reason," a statement said.
The Pope urged Christians to put their hope for a better future in God.
"We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth, then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world," he said.
Christian hope also meant protecting the planet, even if people felt powerless to make changes in their lifetimes, he said.
"We can free our life and the world from the poisons and contaminations that could destroy the present and the future. We can uncover the sources of creation and keep them unsullied, and in this way we can make a right use of creation, which comes to us as a gift..." he said.
(Editing by Janet Lawrence)
True, I wouldn't directly attibute abortion to atheism. But the growing cultural tendency to ignore that God exists makes it a lot easier to look at you like an annoying piece of meat and not a human being imbued with inviolable dignity. Really, what are the consequences of gunning someone down in cold blood if we're all just accidentally here? We're just insects with opposable thumbs, so, go ahead and kill 'em all.
Communism demands Atheism
That's an interesting question, and one which I'd like to take seriously.
Correct me all along here if I'm wrong, because I'm struggling even to get the conceptual framework in place here:
Before Voltaire and his crew the late 18th century, I don't think there were people in Europe or America who would have called themselves "atheists," a term which would have been used only as a denunciatory label applied to an opponent, meaning either "morally bad" or "heretical." And I don't think there was anything like open, organized atheism until the French Revolution.
So you're dealing with a phenomenon which has only been a force in history for less than 250 years; unlike, say, the Judeo-Christian movement which has 2500+ years' worth of history to poke around in looking for vice and virtue.
OK, so looking at the movements or parties which represented atheists' ideals and aspirations since they got out of the salons and into the historic cavalcade, you've got:
It looks like --- other than Nietzsche and Ayn Rand --- a pretty Left-wing line-up.
Now, I don't want to blame atheists unfairly for everything from the Reign of Terror to the British CND, but those are the only organized movements of atheists I see on the world stage.
In all sincerity, I ask: if we are not to judge atheism by its organized historic manifestations, how are we to judge it?
You have credulously allowed a tendentious media report to stir up conflict.
Atheism is tangential to the Pope's encyclical, perhaps a few paragraphs out of dozens.
The atheism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries isin its origins and aimsa type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world and of world history. A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God. It is for the sake of morality that this God has to be contested. Since there is no God to create justice, it seems man himself is now called to establish justice. If in the face of this world's suffering, protest against God is understandable, the claim that humanity can and must do what no God actually does or is able to do is both presumptuous and intrinsically false. It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice; rather, it is grounded in the intrinsic falsity of the claim. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope. No one and nothing can answer for centuries of suffering. No one and nothing can guarantee that the cynicism of powerwhatever beguiling ideological mask it adoptswill cease to dominate the world.The political manifestations of atheism are the primary target in this passage.
As a whole, however, the encyclical is a reflective meditation on hope from which all men can benefit. I hope the angry Italian atheist reads the full text.
Seems strange that an educated atheist could state, with a straight face, that Pius XII “embraced Hitlers legacy” in 1939.
Hitler’s did not, by definition, have a legacy until after 1945. And Pius XII was regarded as “righteous amongst the gentiles” by the many, many Jews who spoke lovingly of him at his funeral.
You can look through the quotes at his funeral for yourself. You won’t find Golda Meir, or the Rabbi of Rome saying “ ... and best of all, he really embraced Hitler’s legacy”
Honestly, if you can’t see the absurdity of what you’re suggesting, I don’t see the point in discussing it further.
I know about a dozen atheists and non-believers. Given that fewer than half are women, and far fewer than half of those would even consider an abortion (even the liberals among them), to suggest that only non-believers are responsible for even 1/4 of the 42 million plus abortions is patently ridiculous.
Being in denial as to who is having the abortions in this country is not going to help change the status quo any quicker. Pastors and preachers have been worried about the number of their flock having abortions for years. Why is it so hard to believe that it’s happening?
Admittedly, atheism is much more often associated with the left. Conservative people tend to have organized religion as part of the framework of their conservatism.
You have an interesting list there, but besides the Marxists/Communists, the only one I really associate with mass violence is the French Revolution. I thought most Americans regarded that as a "good thing", overthrowing monarchy in favor of republican forms of government has been very messy, but it has been part of the path of progress.
The other things you mention seem to be in the tradition of Europeans always wishing to fight each other over something, whether it be different flavors of Christianity, or Christians versus those who would throw off Christianity. If you want to judge atheists by the worst among us, then allow us to judge Christianity by its most infamous practitioners as well. Or, we could just both admit that social change in bygone years was accompanied by far more violence than Western civilization will tolerate today.
Can you provide examples of where Christianity said that?
The the Crusades in 1095 were as aggressive as the Allies' invasion of Normandy in 1944. The Muslims had engulfed 2/3 of all the historically Christians lands from Chaldea to Castile, and the Christian people in Constantinople were about eyeball-to-eyeball with Muslims as close as Nicaea. No to go through the whole bloody 200-year history with you (or 700 years, as regards Spain) but the "cause" of the Crusades was not to invade Islamic strongholds in Saudi Arabia and convert Muslims, but to regain the Christian homelands of the Levant.
They achieved only few and brief victories, and there were atrocities abounding on both sides, but the casus belli was longstanding aggression on the part of the Muslims.
As for Hitler--- hoo. You are so wrong on this, it's a classic howler. I'll get back to you if nobody else beats me to it.
Well, I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of trying to divine someone’s real beliefs since it is a futile game. And conveniently labeling those who do not share all the tenets of what you believe to be the rightful definition of Christianity is also a mug’s game. It is a little too convenient to reject a person’s faith just because they don’t always adhere to the teachings you subscribe to.
When you look at surveys of behavior like viewing pornography, divorce, and downloading illegal copies of music (even Christian music!) then the behavior of “Bible-believing” Christians is not that much different from the rest of the Christian community. (The surveys can be found via Google). So why should they be any different when if comes to abortion? I think that you will agree that even the most sincere of Christians is capable of acting selfishly at times, and if nothing else, abortion is a selfish act.
It has plenty to do with Communism. Communism is the political result when man's God-given rights are deemed to be non-existent and are subordinated to the greater good of the "collective".
Not all atheists are communists but all true communists are atheists. Communism is just one of the false directions in which atheism leads so not all atheists end up as communists but many do. All communist countries were officially atheist and persecuted religion and its believers. For good reason. It is enshrined in the writings of communism's founder.
Read Marx, the originator of the communist lie. One of the cornerstones on which his writings were built was that the proletariat was oppressed by religion and needed to be "liberated" from it. Millions lost their lives as a result. The construction of the workers' utopia was the cause which caused these millions to be sacrificed. For a materialist, godless paradise in the here and now which turned into a living hell.
Minor point. True atheism is not common. Many people who claim not to believe in God are simply agnostics and many angry agnostics are often mistaken for atheists. They're people who won't believe because they're not satisfied with the arguments for the existence of God and angrily demand proof. Atheism on the other hand, is a positive believe in the non-existence of God. A "faith" if you will, that God does not exist. Just as Christians have a positive belief in the existence of God, the atheist believes in His non-existence. Like any faith, it tends towards evangelism and militancy among its followers. Hence the drive of its followers to spread it throughout the world.
Well, there's something paradoxical about that though. Because the person who thinks there is no life to come becomes very jealous of their life here and doesn't want to give it up to no one, no how. Whereas the person who believes in a world to come is much more comfortable with the idea of self-sacrifice, because all that is lost will someday be regained.
I speak from experience here, as someone who used to be agnostic and isn't anymore. I lost all my enjoyment of life over the time I didn't believe in God, because I couldn't fathom that all the good in the world could be gone in an instant, never to be replaced again. It breeds a kind of hopelessness.
Also, if you are trying to compare the negative impact of Christians to those of atheists—which I believe is an exercise in futility, but nevertheless—you also have to consider the respective population sizes and advances in technology and statecraft that have allowed repressive regimes to be far more viciously effective in the past 100 years than in the 1,900 years of Christian history before that.
If the medieval despots had wiped out tens of millions of their subjects, there would not have been anyone left in the country to rule over!
Incorrect. It absolutely does, it's called pride. Without humility man will lead to totalitarianism. St. Thomas: "The virtue of humility...Consists in keeping oneself within one's own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one's superior"
If anything, given that atheists believe that our time on Earth is the only life we have, life and liberty should be regarded as more important than by those who think their lives are painful, and pitifully short when compared with the bliss of life eternal to come when they die.
But this isn't true. The Founding Fathers love of life and liberty is greater than any atheistic dream.
Where are the enemies of our Hitler youth? They are the religious fanatics who still today fall on their knees with wistful looks directed upward, who spend their time attending churches and praying. We, as Hitler boys, can regard only with contempt or derision young people who still today run to their ridiculous Evangelical or Catholic clubs to give themselves up to eminently superfluous religious reveries.Looks to me like Hitler would have felt at home with today's atheists. Interesting. So let's quit playing the Hitler card. It's unbecoming of a conservative. Leave that to the leftists.
The Pope attacked atheists?
How many died?
Here's a suggestion. Read the encyclical. In no sense can it be said to be an attack against atheists unless you hold to the view that any proclamation of the Christian faith "attacks" atheists. The Pope is defending the Catholic faith and is addressing the encyclical first and foremost to Catholics. That's because it's his job. The Pope is Catholic.
Only someone with a chip on their shoulder could see this as an "attack". It is about the Christian virtue of hope and in the course of examining the issue thoroughly, it is necessary to treat of the situation of those who lack "hope", or unbelievers but that is not its main purpose or primary focus.
Oh, come on. Don’t you know your Old Testament history? I’m talking about Joshua’s God-commanded conquest of the Holy Land and the holy orders to wipe out entire tribes to the smallest child or, in some cases, to spare the young virgin women for the men to rape and possess.
It’s all there in black and white.
And it works with Maoism too.
The Pope condemns atheism; American religious leaders beg forgiveness from Muslims.
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