January 5, 2014

PZ and Ed Brayton don't get it

PZ Myers and Ed Brayton, two of my favorite bloggers, are upset with atheists who say anything positive about Pope Francis. It amazes me that this is their position.

Believe me, I understand that Pope Francis is the pope of nothing. There is no god, so his job is ceremonial and ultimately meaningless. But does that mean we can't praise anything he does? Why? Because he's the pope? That makes no sense.

If Francis can tone down the anti-gay, anti-atheist insanity that is rampant in many (if not most) Christian denominations, then he deserves an award, not opprobrium, from progressive atheists and bloggers. And it seems this is exactly what he's doing.

I also see Francis as modeling "correct" Christianity for the non-Catholic masses. The important thing here is the wild approval that Catholics are sending his way. It's obvious that they don't like when religious leaders shame gays, attack atheists and rail against abortion. Francis' words are a balm to their nonexistent souls.

One of the most important things to note here is that other Christian denominations are not blind. They hear the pope's words and see the positive reaction among the Catholic faithful. The believers like Pope Francis' tone. Sooner or later, these other Christian denominations will realize that this applies to them, as well. And perhaps as a result, they will also abandon gay-shaming and atheist-slamming.

That would be no small thing. We've been living in a hate-filled period of Christian activism. Heck, the religious wingnuts almost destroyed the American economy last year by electing unqualified, irrational Christian wingnuts to Congress. The Pope's line of reasoning could put an end to this rush of fools.

So let the man speak, let him take action. And let us not be blind to the good effects he engenders. Yes, he's the pope of nothing. But many people hear his words and those words are not hateful. That's a good thing.

I wish Ed and PZ could see this point. I share their disapproval to a certain extent, in that the pope probably won't change church "doctrine" on gays and women. Personally, I feel that unless he recognizes that women are truly equal to men, his church will eventually collapse. But the longterm existence of the Catholic church is not my concern, nor is it a concern to any sensible atheist. What matters is whether the religious hatred that signifies our times can be tamped down and eventually exterminated.

Let's give the pope a chance. Sure, his god is nonexistent. But that hardly matters. He can do good things regardless of the spurious basis for his power. Let's just watch and listen and see what he does. And in the meantime, let's not clobber him simply because he's the pope. Seriously, I shouldn't have to say this. Ed, PZ, wake up.

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