Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hate Mail - No, I'm Not Going To Stop Pointing Out The Consequences Resulting From Not Believing It's A Sin To Lie

Perhaps considering how many decades I bought and accepted so many of the myths, legends and other lies of Brit-American atheism*, sometimes asserting them as truths due to my lazy lack of testing them against even a fairly modest level of research, my relatively recent calling atheists on their lies is making up for my past stupidity.   Considering how much of allegedly informed babble among would-be lefties (and a not inconsiderable number of right-wing atheists) still consists of the repetition of that folk-lie my perhaps less than polite calling it what it really is could be considered palliative.   Or maybe it's penitential considering I told some of those lies, myself.

As good an example of that as could be had was in my recent go-round at the mis-named "Religion Dispatches" with an atheist who claimed 

 Like the medieval church that forbade monks to practice medicine and required them to offer prayers for miracles instead, fostering a belief in miracles is unethical and hence immoral because it encourages people to be passive and wait for someone/something else to act. Can you imagine anyone suggesting that parents not take their sick child to seek medical care and to just pray instead? Or to take the child to a church to get the demon in them exorcised? This is what urging people to "believe in miracles" leads to. I have seen this in my own family: someone in their church is ill with only a 40% chance of getting well, they pray he/she gets better, he/she does and the faithful consider it a miracle. This is clearly a reinforcement of the belief in miracles and confirmation bias as well. Why they don't focus on the work of the doctors and nurses who are trying to raise that 40% number to 50% and then higher is beyond me.

The inculcated passivity benefits the church and associated political powers in it gets people to accept their lot in life (typically a poor one) expecting their reward in the next life, which is yet another immoral extension of church teaching.

Which is a massive lie as it was exactly in monasteries and convents and the hospices that many of them maintained that most of the medical care that happened in Europe in the late classical, Medieval and up till the modern era happened.  And in most cases the medical care was delivered free, as charity.  Of course over that long period the quality of care varied and, as even today, much of that care is probably worse than doing nothing but that was the case with all medicine and in many cases still is (I'm in the process of writing a post on that).    

You could go and see the various ways in which the atheist tried to wriggle out of the lie - most of those who comment there would seem to be atheist trolls who are there to bash religion instead of discussing it honestly.  Especially Christianity.   One of the typical atheist lines was given that any effective medical care wasn't "Christian" because, allegedly like Christmas and Easter, as it was stolen from "pagans" no advance in medical knowledge or care having happened since the death of Galen 

The ascendancy of the Christian Church dates from around the time of the death of Galen. Having progressed so far, rational medicine was now abandoned. Medicine in the Bible is entirely supernatural. The Church developed the view that real practical medicine savoured of black magic. In any case it was wrong to try to subvert God's holy will by interfering with the natural course of events. It was God who caused illness. He was responsible for cures just as he was responsible for death. Even church law mentioned, in passing, that diseases were attributable to God, for example.

Which is, of course, a massive lie.  Among other things it discounts the advances made by Muslims and others in the medieval period.  I specifically brought up the 13th century figure Theodoric Borgognoni;

Ah, yes, the old atheist claim that everything Christians did that was creditable was due to "pagans". Well, the medieval period was a very long one and the idea that new discoveries and ideas didn't occur to people all that time due to their being Christians is pure ignorance. For example, the Dominican Bishop Theodoric Borgognoni was a major figure in the progress of medicine. One of his greatest discoveries was that, as opposed to what Galen said, it was a bad idea to allow a pus filled wound to fester but that it was best to clean it and to sew it up to promote healing. His major work Cyrurgia contains a lot which is important, perhaps none so much as his emphasis on learning from careful observation instead of merely relying on the authority of ancient writers like Galen. He was also notable for his advances in the use of pain killers.

In the course of the argument I also mentioned Hildegard von Bingen**, the medieval polymath who, among her many writings, wrote on medicine.  

Also during the discussion the atheist told several of the often encountered really massive lies told by atheists:

Monks were often forbidden from attending colleges to learn more about medicine as, apparently then as now, a quick route to losing one's faith was to attend college (rubbing elbows too frequently with people who do their own thinking). (The primary one is to read the Bible, which is why the Church opposed the translation of the Bible into any living, vulgar language to the point of burning translators at the stake.)

Monks were dissuaded from using too much pagan medicine and encouraged to recommend fasting, prayer, confession, and exorcism, instead. (The Biblical theory of disease involved demon possession in most cases.)

All of which is a complete and total lie IN SO MUCH AS MONASTERIES WERE THE SOURCE OF EUROPEAN UNIVERSITIES, MONKS, PRIESTS, BISHOPS, ETC. INVENTED THE UNIVERSITY.    Monks kept learning and scholarship alive in Europe during the medieval period, the advances in logic, mathematics, in the natural philosophy that would eventually develop into modern science was just about all done by monks and nuns in the medieval period.  

The massive lies of atheists are the common intellectual currency among an enormous percentage of the English speaking would-be educated class.  I'm not going to apologize for calling it what it is, a massive effort by atheists to misrepresent history and virtually everything else to discredit religion, especially Christianity and particularly Catholicism.  

I pointed out that it would be possible to come up with a very long list of hospitals in Europe and North America (as well as around the world) which were begun by religious communities and denominations and religious order.  I challenged him to come up with a list of hospitals begun by atheist organizations.  I've made that challenge before and have yet to have someone come up with one.  

Religion Dispatches was a site I used to go to quite often but, as it has been overtaken by atheist trolls, I don't much bother with it anymore.  The people who maintain the site don't seem to be bothered much by becoming a venue for the repetition and transmission of lies.  I don't know the reason for that but, as I said to the atheist I've come to become aware that atheists tendency to lie is a consequence to be expected of people who fail to believe in sin and that, therefore, it isn't a sin to tell a lie.  I've come to believe that once people stop believing that that there is little to keep them from becoming habitual liars or to not care an awful lot whether not a lie congenial to their preference is a misrepresentation of reality.   It is one of the things about Trump that demonstrates his profession of religion is a lie, itself.  I am coming to see that the damage that the normalization of lying in our society that what I'm talking about is part of has the most serious consequences.   

* I should probably include lies told in French perhaps as well as other languages, though other than the lies flowing from the French Revolution and its political consequences, I haven't done that level of fact-checking on much of it.  Though all of us are guilty of lying the level of lying by atheists does seem to me to be remarkable.  That doesn't excuse lies told by professed Christians and others who generally add hypocrisy to their lying.  Atheism escapes that only because atheism rejects the category of sin.  

** A lot of the false beliefs about women's bodies and their health were inherited from the pagans such as Aristotle.  He also was responsible for some of the beliefs in biological and mental differences between the elite and the poor.  As I've pointed out recently, that was certainly contrary to the egalitarianism of the Hebrew-Christian scriptures.  As I pointed out in the argument medieval Christian nuns were probably the most educated women in up to that point history, much of the health care given for free to people who couldn't afford it was given by nuns who certainly learned from their experience providing care.   I read somewhere that centuries before it became part of official Western medical knowledge Hildegard advocated boiling water to make it less likely to spread disease, though that's something I haven't fact-checked, myself.  


  1. I do love the bit about monks being forbidden to attend college and study medicine, as if there were medical schools in Heidelberg in the 14th century, and as if monks didn't found all the great centers of learning in Europe.

    I suppose next we'll learn monks were forbidden to have Xmas trees and hide Easter eggs.

    And, of course, Mendel wasn't a monk; or something. He slipped through the net determined to keep monks ignorant, somehow.

    Good grief.

  2. Adding: the E&R church set up one of the first hospitals in St. Louis precisely to provide medical care,not just to pray for people. Again, an ignorant person thinks their experience is the only true experience, and they supplement their ignorance with wild conjecture.