How Wrong You Are, Let Me Count The Ways

How Wrong You Are, Let Me Count The Ways

A child sitting on a horse backwards -- for some reason this reminds me of McGillicuddy
Way back in June you may remember a Father Con McGillicuddy complaining that Prof Richard Dawkins at the World Atheist Convention had described the Catholic church as 'an evil institution'. His response in the Irish Times letters page relied on that old canard about the 'institutions of death provided by famous atheists such as Hitler, Stalin, Ceausescu and others' — as if somehow atheism has a sacred text which tells you what to do.

As there are Christians who kill, there are atheists who kill. The difference is that there is no atheist creed to instruct the non-believer — he may kill for universal human motivations such as greed, power, lust etc. Whereas the religious killers may do so specifically because of his religious beliefs. Religion makes you do what you're told, not what is right.

I won't rehearse in full the voluminous refutations that have already been offered by atheists time and again to people like the pious Father McGillicuddy, since they never seem to land. If being told that Hitler thought of himself as a good Christian doesn't suit the superstitious padre, then no doubt he'll simply dismiss the fact out of hand. But don't take it from me, here's Der Führer — quoted in entirety, rather than out-of-context as is the fashion.

"National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity. The Church's interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against the Bolshevist culture, against an atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for the consciousness of a community in our national life, for the conquest of hatred and disunion between the classes, for the conquest of civil war and unrest, of strife and discord. These are not anti-Christian, these are Christian principles."

Adolph Hitler, Koblenz 1934

In addition, if someone were looking for proof that that Hitler's motives were somewhat religious in origin, then I would have  thought his obsession with Jewish people would be a dead giveaway  — atheists don't tend to discriminate between rival cults of mythology. Upon hearing this, I'm sure McGillicuddy would change the subject and ask "OK, but what about Stalin?"

Endlessly shifting the goalposts should be made into a sin — it's certainly a failure of argument.

But today sees our outraged cleric returning to the paper of record in an attempt to achieve a new personal best for Most Logical Fallacies Per Paragraph.

"Sir, – Richard Morton (October 27th) continues to proclaim the non-existence of God, citing the brilliant scientists who, leaning on their intellectual gifts and undoubted qualifications have concluded there is no such being responsible for this marvellous universe and all it contains."

The Irish Times (Letters, Nov 4th 2011)

This is indended to be wildly sarcastic, of course, yet ends up being the only sensible part of his diatribe. He continues:

"I believe they are in a no-win contest. They are opposed by the millions of people who down through the centuries concluded that there must be a good and caring super being who organised the four seasons of the year, every year, through which they were provided with food. They could not explain the mechanics of this exercise."

How many fallacies can you spot in this paragraph? Let's see…

I quite sure that Father McGillicuddy despite his seminary training, remains determinedly ignorant of all these points of logic — relying instead on the only part of his brain he can trust.

"Of course all these millions who believed in a super being were ordinary, poor, uneducated fellows with no benefit of university degrees, but they had the inherited gift of 'common sense', a qualification which seems sadly missing in many geniuses of this world."

The many geniuses of the world are undoubtedly shamed by this secret failing of theirs. How cruel of fate to deny them this cherished ability to instantly believe something on a whim because it just 'feels' right. What a humiliating burden it must be to have to laboriously check the facts and look for some evidence before centering your life around a mythical unseen being with seemingly no clear definition.

"Incidentally the much derided Bible stories of creation were composed and written down to be memorised easily by the uneducated millions, stories written in a poetic and metaphorical style not to be taken literally but conveying the basic message that an all-powerful, eternal and caring God is the origin of all creation."

I sincerely hope the pope doesn't read the Irish Times. He would be infuriated to discover that the Bible is no longer historical fact but merely some unlettered poetry. I myself was surprised by the addition of a brand new character: a 'caring' God. But then I suppose it's easy to describe him as such while sipping milky tea and crunching on fig-rolls in the rectory — but this weekend's 400 victims of floods in Thailand may have had some conflicting thoughts about a caring super being in their terrifying final moments.

But it's all part of God's mysterious 'caring' plan, you say? Well now, isn't it that awfully convenient for you, Father Con. Another fig-roll perhaps?