My first post

I had been thinking about starting a post for a while, and well, today the Pope made me do it, start one that is.

The AP reports that the Pope’s latest encyclical criticizes atheism.

Pope Benedict XVI strongly criticized atheism in a major document released Friday, saying it had led to some of the ”greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” ever known.

As an atheist, I find this very offensive. I have not been taught to be an atheist. I have not attend any classes, gone through some rituals to be recognized as an atheist (thinking baptism, conformation, and communion). I just don’t believe in God.

Now I don’t consider myself to be a militant atheist, and I know some. I have had great discussion with a friend while she was in seminary about God and beliefs. She told me our discussions helped strengthen her faith. I am glad, as her friend, that I was able to help her with her calling.

But once again, there really isn’t an atheist structure/hierarchy out there that is rooted in the non-belief to carry out an ideology or goal. To be fair we may have one goal, and that is to preserve the separation of church and state. However, that goal is shared by many believers, not just atheists.

So to blame atheists for the action of communist countries, that are authoritarian dictatorships, not by some central ideology of atheists, is ludicrous.

Benedict points to two historical upheavals: the French Revolution and the proletarian revolution instigated by Karl Marx.

Benedict sharply criticizes Marx and the 19th and 20th century atheism spawned by his revolution, although he acknowledges that both were responding to the deep injustices of the time.

”A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God,” he wrote. But he said the idea that mankind can do what God cannot by creating a new salvation on Earth was ”both presumptuous and intrinsically false.”

So the French Revolution and Marxism were in response to grave injustices at the time. Where was the Catholic Church at this time? What do the records show about their efforts to end the injustices.

What does this sentence mean? ”A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God,” Was God being indifferent to this world? Is there a bad God?

I mean if a good God is allowing or just indifferent to injustice and suffering, isn’t it incumbent upon us, humanity, to seek an end to the injustice. Not presumptuous but our duty to our fellow human beings to correct or end injustices and alleviate the suffering?

Now the discussion changes a little, but it is still very troubling to me.

At the same time, Benedict also looks critically at the way modern Christianity had responded to the times, saying such a ”self-critique” was also necessary.

”We must acknowledge that modern Christianity, faced with the successes of science in progressively structuring the world, has to a large extent restricted its attention to the individual and his salvation,” he wrote. ”In doing so, it has limited the horizon of its hope and has failed to recognize sufficiently the greatness of its task.”

The Christian concept of hope and salvation, he says, was not always so individual-centric.

Most would agree that Europe, especially the EU portion, is noted for a lower church going populace and higher social welfare supports. But when you compare these two issues to the US the gulf is huge. In the US, there are more religious folks (actively involved) yet, I would say much of the church going public (not all, there is much great work done by religious folks) is very individual orientated, which often is rooted in the self-reliant, social darwinism school of thought that we get from the Republican party.

Yet the US government provides far weaker social supports to those on the bottom end of the income scale. In fact our social supports have become weaker in the past few decades. I imagine that many (for whatever reason, and trust me there are many) folks would prefer to see charities serve the poor rather than government. But as an atheist, and a liberal with high socialist leanings, I would rather see the government carry out that role.

Well I think I have rambled a little bit here, so I will end this first post.

-Josh

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