Having had close on five years to work out why Atheists were shown in a Pew Research Center survey to know more about religion than theists and in particular, Catholics, Mark Shea, writing in the National Catholic Register has come up with an 'answer'. To be more precise, he's come up with an excuse:
The reason atheists did better is that, being at war with all mankind about the thing that matters to it most, they oppose all theists and are wary of the whole broad spectrum of religious belief...
So that's that then. The only reason to investigate and learn is to wage war. It's not to discover the truth or anything like that. But of course:
Christians, in contrast, can hold up their end when talking about Christianity, but have never boned up on Jewish, Mormon, Islamic, or Hindu teachings since, well, they're Christian.
And of course, being born by great good fortune into the one true faith, the only reason to even think about learning about any of the others is if you're about to wage war on them - unlike learning about Christianity of course - which Atheists do to wage war on it, er...
So, to help Catholics, who averaged less than 50% in the Pew survey, to feel a little better about their abysmal knowledge of their 'one true faith', Shea has kindly devised a set of nice and easy questions for them. Don't worry, there is nothing about any of those other false religions which Catholics can't be expected to know about, and he's thoughtfully given the answers too - but I'll leave them out here. You'll need to go to Shea's article to find them. See how you do.
Remember, this is about Catholic dogma so the 'right' answer isn't necessarily the correct one as rational people would recognise it. Some of it is frankly gibberish.
- According to Scripture, the universe was created
- because God was lonely and needed somebody to talk to
- from nothing by the word of God
- because God needed a laboratory in which to learn new things
- by Stephen Hawking.
- Which answer is false? The Immaculate Conception is
- the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary
- the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother
- the term to refer to the fact that Mary was preserved from all sin from the moment of her conception.
- a dogma proclaimed by the Church in 1854.
- The two greatest commandments are
- “You shall have no other gods before me” and “You shall not make any graven image”
- “Don’t judge” and “Be tolerant”
- “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- “Don’t shoplift” and “Be Kind. Rewind”
- Catholic teaching about sex includes the proposition that
- sex is okay if you really and truly love each other and that’s all that matters
- artificial contraception is fine if you mean well
- if you have a really good reason, such as economic ruin or disgrace, abortion is okay
- sex is a blessing intended solely for the sacrament of marriage between one man and one woman, and is intended to make them one flesh and to be open to the getting of children.
- Catholic Just War Doctrine teaches
- all’s fair in love and war
- it is legitimate to deliberately target civilians if that’s what it takes to win
- the ends justify the means
- the Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. "The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties."
- The Holy Spirit is
- that sense of warmth and family we all feel toward one another as we gather at the altar or on Christmas morning
- an idea created by the New Testament writers since nobody mentions it in the Old Testament
- an angel who got promoted to membership in the Trinity because God the Father liked him
- God, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, who exists from all eternity and who is, with the Father and the Son, worshiped and glorified by the angels and saints.
- The Incarnation refers to
- when Jesus was “born again” at Bethlehem after a previous life in another body
- when an ordinary man named Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and God chose to adopt him and turn him into the Son of God because of his good character
- the moment when God the Father turned into God the Son in the womb of Mary
- the Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son taking on human flesh in the womb of the Virgin and being born at Bethlehem.
- The Bible is
- the inspired and inerrant word of God teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.
- a collection of Bronze Age myths and fables, but no serious theologian takes it as “the word of God” anymore.
- the Big Book of Everything, given to us by God in order to determine the age of the universe, all knowledge of science, and the date of important world events like the establishment of the state of Israel and the assassination of JFK
- a baffling patchwork of confusing and dull source materials that nobody but a professional can understand, so the Church says not to read it because it will just get you all mixed up.
Obviously, having a good all-round knowledge of different religions and being in a position to compare and contrast them, like many Atheists did before deciding that they can't all be right, therefore the most vicarious explanation is that they are all wrong, is not considered by the Catholic Church to be something people should do as a matter of course.
The Catholic Church can only see learning as motivated by hate, not a love for truth or for the sheer joy of finding things out. The only possible reason to find out about anything is to wage war on it. The very last thing a good Catholic should be doing is looking for the truth. A good Catholic should be assiduously memorising the dogma (never the 'reasoning' behind them) and preparing to regurgitate it on demand. A good Catholic should not be learning and trying to think for her/him self. A good Catholic should let the Catholic Church do the thinking and just accept the dogma.
The very last thing a good Catholic should be doing is learning about, and understanding religion. That would be a hateful thing to do.
Credit to Barry Duke at The Freethinker.
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