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Comments on Churches In the Hands of an Angry God by Dark Matter in reply to Pinky

It definitely existed in a situation where an unscrupulous leader could manipulate the populace, but pre-railroad, this was unavoidable.

Just like finding an animal with sharp teeth implies it ate meat, finding scumbag-friendly dogma (like Indulgences) implies that abuse happened on a vast scale in the past. And we know from the likes of Martin Luther this was true. And since the Church can be on any side of any issue, then this was a choice.

It is "unavoidable" that there will be some abusive Priests, even in the modern era. However aspects of the church are designed to enable them. The well oiled church machery and well established church practices which protect transgressor priests from any consequences and enable his next round of misadventures are the source of the current sex scandals, not the "unavoidable" issue that there are going to be problems when you deal with people.

My expectation is the same machinery also works for fiscal crimes, we just don't hear about it because it's less interesting.

You say that “God’s special teachings match up well with what serves the church’s interests, that’s where we get Indulgences and so forth.” Does it really match up so well? Take indulgences off the table. What else?

Priests as superheroes. Divinely inspired teachings that can't be argued with, i.e. whatever the Priest says goes. Separate legal systems. A total lack of accountability to the people the church supposedly serves. A religious structure and dogma which claims Priests are needed at every level of interaction with god, and historically, every level of politics/control.

The idea that you can be tortured forever for thought crimes against the Churches teachings seems pretty much in the Church's best interests. Ditto the entire concept of Papal infallibility (discovered right after he lost his army).

If you were going to create a self-serving religion, it’d be wildly different than Catholicism.

What would be beyond "priests-as-superheroes and the-voice-of god?

Did the Church ever fail to preach that child-rape is sinful?

So what? They talk a good game and they have great marketing. However "character" is judged by what you do when you can get away with it, not what you proclaim. Tony Soprano talking about how a nice guy he is doesn't make him a nice guy. Me claiming to be a world class supermodel doesn't make me that.

The Church really, really wants to claim moral authority. They also have problems with things like enabling child-rape. They're extremely reluctant to deal with that problem in spite of the disconnect.

If an organization fails to police itself for *that*, then my expectation is it also fails to police all sorts of things... and this is a matter of design. The flock are there to be fleeced. The Priests aren't accountable to them for a reason. If that reason is "god says so" then we can substitute "the priests say so" and that works just fine.

These are not new problems and were why Martin Luther tried to Reform the church, which resulted instead with splitting the church.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation

The point of Hell (and Purgatory) is that it will help you get better.

Messages from God provide insight into the messager.

In this case the message is not following the Church/Priests results in you being tortured for all eternity.

God beckons us but we say, if you don’t mind Sir, I would like to get cleaned up first. God says: but it will hurt. We reply: Even so Sir.

It's your fault I'm hitting you, and I'm doing it for your own good.

Classic abuser behavior.

...the idea of carrying someone else’s spiritual burden is extraordinary...

The basic concept seems somewhere between "easily abused" and "designed to be abused".

You really have to understand the idea of Purgatory.

Oh, I understand it. I go to Catholic Mass every week. I'm well educated, informed, able and willing to look stuff up, have a good memory, have taken religious training from different places, and have undergone something best described as a spiritual quest. For me, Purgatory can be (and has been) a subject in a philosophical/religious discussion.

The problem is the historical target audience for this message was someone who couldn't read and doesn't have access to the Bible because Gutenberg's printing press hasn't been invented yet.

In that situation we're looking at the combination of a message that lets priests extort money from the ignorant, a large number of ignorant people, and a church structure shields priests from bad deeds.

The expectation should be that this combination of inputs had the obvious outputs.

The Church has never made any claim that its leaders are free from sin, but does claim to be guided in its teachings.

"Not free from sin" covers everything from the boy scouts to The Sopranos. If they want to also claim "to be guided in its teachings" then there's a problem taking Tony Sopranos as a guy giving advice from god.

I don't expect a group enjoying supernatural moral guidance to be totally "free from sin" but I do expect them to recognize that raping children is pretty deep on the "evil" spectrum, and they simply didn't. Large organizations tend to be sociopathic but even by those standards they've behaved more like The Sopranos than a group whose calling is supposed to be moral.

I see no seriously evidence to support that they're moral authorities, moral experts, or anything of that nature. I especially see no legit claim to "guidance", as far as I can tell, everything they've done can be explained by self interest, marketing, and the pursuit of power. God's special teachings match up well with what serves the church's interests, that's where we get Indulgences and so forth.

Morality and special guidance is marketing, not miracle. The claim is stunningly self serving. For example separation of church and state seems like a no-brainer nowadays but it took a war to strip the church of it's army.

the primary arguments against heliocentrism qua heliocentrism–arguments presented by the Church, mind you–were mathematical, cited Brahe, and were entirely modern in their reasoning and process.

A group of Christians were using math to "prove the Bible correct" and oppose something the Pope and the Inquisition judged heresy.

I expect their primary motivation was "support the Bible" and not "love of Math".

Seems to me that sassing the mods and getting slapped back for it is different than Religion Viciously Crushes All Threats To The Truth Of Its Dogma And In So Doing Holds Back Human Progress.

There is a difference, however this was clearly the later and not the former. Galileo was ordered by the Pope to stop working on this heresy more than a decade before the shit talking started. Before that the Inquisition soundly investigated it and decided this was something that needed to be stopped. That's not a math club deciding someone was wrong.

My read on the timeline is eventually Galileo got upset at having to deal with stupid arguments made by people who insisted facts weren't facts and he changed from arguing with facts to arguing with insults.

You can call that "abuse of a mod" if you really want to but the "mod" is insisting that the Earth is the center of the universe because it's in a special book and is trying to shut down the truth. That's the entire source of the disagreement and it's why it escalated to his conviction. This mess took decades to play out and while his shit talking and their convicting him was at the end, their efforts to shut down this line of research as heresy happened at the start.

the moral positions of the various churches follows from human sentiment and not any higher moral truth

That's a great one sentence summation.

Either paints religion in a bad light.

Focusing on which round of escalation ended with punishment ignores the forest for the trees.

The basic concept that "The Church will Decide What Is Truth based on The Needs of The Church" is self seeking, corrupt, and unethical by modern standards when backed up by the power of the State.

The modern equiv would be Trump insisting that conversations about the Dems need to start with "why do Dems hate America" and if you don't start with that concept you can be arrested. Arguing that not many people get arrested or "whose fault" it is when that happens ignores that the basic setup is a serious problem.

Yeah, the ones that enriched themselves with it were, generally, tossed out or shunned.

Hardly. The Priests were the 1% of centuries past. That tends to get white washed now days, not only because it's been a few centuries but also because by modern standards a lot of what happened would be viewed as deeply corrupt and self serving.

The Catholic Church of Germany, by itself, currently has about 25 Billion in assets. Go back a few centuries and the church(es) were controlling who was King, fighting wars over which set of Priests would be in charge, and deciding what science was "appropriate" for distribution.

They were superheroes. The guys with a direct line to God with miracles on tap. Even the Bible talks about Christ having problems with the Priests of his day.

"Self enriching" was true from day one.

Christianity is dying in America...

I think about 75% of the country is currently Christian so it's got a ways to go. Granted, that's down from 85% in 1990 but I expect mostly that loss is from the "nominal" crowd. Atheists in the closet or whatever.

Big picture, religion is probably a genetic urge. Some of my kids will do logical backflips on why they believe, others simply don't because it doesn't make sense. In a good percentage of the population it's not going away and in a lot of the rest they don't care enough to oppose it.

the word “slavery” has meant a lot of different things. I can imagine a temporary indenture, say for working off debt, that would be morally acceptable.

That is not the historical church backed practice of slavery.

A person who has the ability to improve the life of a person in absolute poverty is just as obligated to do so as ever.

It's very weird that we-the-people can be lectured on improving the lives of people living in absolute poverty by a Trillion(ish) dollar organization that loves covering things with gold and displaying them in vast buildings which it owns, runs, and so forth.

if... Catholic Church’s teachings haven’t been consistent with moral reality

Slaves, obey your master with fear and trembling.

Or if you want something more fiscal, Indulgences come to mind.

The Catholic Church still teaches that the acts of one person can be put onto the soul of another. The example the Priest who educated me used was you could make the sign of the cross, and ask god to put it on someone else's soul.

The historical practice of that "moral teaching" was the Priest shows up the doorstep of a grieving person whose family member just died, tells them the dead guy probably wasn't good enough to go to heaven on their own, and asks them if they'd like to do something good for god so their relative's soul can go to heaven. "Doing good things for god" includes "giving money to the church".

Big picture the church isn't about morality and never has been. It's about power for the church. Left to their own devices they're not able to figure out that raping children is unethical. They needed to be shown that it's bad for their image in order to even entertain the concept of stopping.

Religious opposition to heliocentrism arose from Biblical references such as Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30 which include text stating, "The world also is established. It can not be moved." In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, "He (the Lord) laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be moved forever." Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states, "The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hurries to its place where it rises."[71]

...By 1615, Galileo's writings on heliocentrism had been submitted to the Roman Inquisition by Father Niccolò Lorini, who claimed that Galileo and his followers were attempting to reinterpret the Bible, which was seen as a violation of the Council of Trent and looked dangerously like Protestantism.[74] Lorini specifically cited Galileo's letter to Castelli.[75] Galileo went to Rome to defend himself and his Copernican and biblical ideas. At the start of 1616, Monsignor Francesco Ingoli initiated a debate with Galileo, sending him an essay disputing the Copernican system. Galileo later stated that he believed this essay to have been instrumental in the action against Copernicanism that followed.[76] According to Maurice Finocchiaro, Ingoli had probably been commissioned by the Inquisition to write an expert opinion on the controversy, and the essay provided the "chief direct basis" for the Inquisition's actions.[77] The essay focused on eighteen physical and mathematical arguments against heliocentrism. It borrowed primarily from the arguments of Tycho Brahe, and it notedly mentioned Tycho's argument that heliocentrism required the stars to be much larger than the Sun. Ingoli wrote that the great distance to the stars in the heliocentric theory "clearly proves ... the fixed stars to be of such size, as they may surpass or equal the size of the orbit circle of the Earth itself".[78] The essay also included four theological arguments, but Ingoli suggested Galileo focus on the physical and mathematical arguments, and he did not mention Galileo's biblical ideas.[79]

In February 1616, an Inquisitorial commission declared heliocentrism to be: "foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture". The Inquisition found that the idea of the Earth's movement "receives the same judgement in philosophy and ... in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith".[80] (The original document from the Inquisitorial commission was made widely available in 2014.[81])

Pope Paul V instructed Cardinal Bellarmine to deliver this finding to Galileo, and to order him to abandon the opinion that heliocentrism was physically true. On 26 February, Galileo was called to Bellarmine's residence and ordered:

... to abandon completely ... the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.[82]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei#Controversy_over_comets_and_The_Assayer

Modern Christianity the culture? Or even every denomination as a whole? Sure, I buy that.

However if we look at the historical Christianity it really did back slavery for a thousand years. Galileo's "crime" really was heresy.

If the moral system is flexible to be on both sides of the "slavery" issue then it's a reflection of its times, i.e. a tool for culture/power/community, and not an "unchanging" message from an "unchanging" god.

Translated into modern times, I see no reason why "a truly Christian moral foundation” needs to be in favor of racial/gay/gender rights or even supporting the poor (our "poor" have lifestyles beyond the Kings of old so by Biblical standards there are none). That's an effort to say "my side is moral, your side is not".

Just like with the civil war, we have large, take-themselves-seriously denominations on both sides of these issues... and there's no obvious way to invoke God to settle the matter since he's already being invoked by both.

I went to a "foreign" church and in the discussion group afterwards was a lady who said (more or less) what you just did except she was serious. Smug about it too.

All of these groups are going to be just shocked when they're burning in hell.

“In order to find the answer, one must see American Christianity not as a religious institution per se, but as a composition of individuals whose evaluative frameworks have been shaped by a culture irreconcilably at odds with a truly Christian moral foundation.”

The phrase "a truly Christian moral foundation" either has no meaning, or it translates into "what I think other people should do".

Christianity is flexible enough to be on both sides of any issue, including things like tribalism (i.e. racism), slavery, the flat earth, governmental power, women's rights, and so forth.

Whenever I hear "god wants X" I translate that into "I want X" and it provides more meaning. Everyone wants God on their side. So just at a guess, the author of this piece probably supports LGBTQA, choice, more money for the poor and so forth. Ergo the "true meaning of Christianity" is to support all those things too.