When an educational institution prioritizes adherence to a religious ideology over rigorous academic inquiry and intellectual development, students suffer. They are not only deprived of the opportunity to develop and utilize critical thinking skills, they are also, to varying degrees, actively discouraged from doing so. True academic and intellectual growth cannot occur in an educational institution in which a specific ideology and its associated tenets are actively protected from questioning and scrutiny.

These arguments are widely-known and widely-accepted. There’s another important aspect of this issue that is rarely discussed, though, and a recent event made me realize that it’s also worth consideration. Like students, some members of the faculty of religious schools, particularly religious universities, are also deprived of the opportunity to engage in legitimate and rigorous academic inquiry and intellectual growth. However, while I feel a great deal of sympathy and empathy for the students who attend these schools, I feel no such compassion for the faculty, particularly those who actively and vociferously discourage both their students and their colleagues from questioning, critiquing, scrutinizing, or applying their critical thinking skills to the ideology in question.

Through their actions, these faculty members create a comfortable, insular, and safe little bubble for themselves, one in which both their religious beliefs and their pedagogical/andragogical/scholarly actions are protected from scrutiny. Jesuit educational institutions are a textbook example of this. Jesuits believe that they are called to educate. And, to be fair, their educational institutions often do a wonderful job of educating students on the subjects that pose no threat to Catholicism. My first-hand experience with Jesuit education was at the high school level. The school I attended is a “preparatory school” for a Jesuit university (most Jesuit universities have one or more affiliated “preparatory” high schools). In many ways, this school provided me with an outstanding education, offering academic opportunities unavailable to students at most public high schools. However, the critical thinking skills and intellectual abilities that I developed in certain courses and areas of study were not welcomed in the (mandatory) courses that focused on Church history, doctrine, tenets, or teachings. This was extremely jarring. It forced me to develop of a particular form of cognitive dissonance and it further reinforced what I had been taught from a very early age: Catholicism must never be questioned.

While the actions of these high school teachers is motivated by a desire to indoctrinate children, professors and other educators at Jesuit universities aren’t as concerned with indoctrination. They don’t have to be: their students are adults who have, most likely, attended Catholic schools and/or participated in Catholic religious activities since they were small children. The indoctrination is done. Free from that responsibility, these professors can instead focus on creating and maintaining that insular academic bubble, one in which they can express their opinions and beliefs without facing scrutiny or rigorous academic inquiry. This bubble is an echo chamber, filled with “yes-men” who are fully committed to a religious ideology that is not only their personal belief system, but also their livelihood. And there is no better example of this phenomenon than a professional theologian, for they are the ones who have the most to lose. A theologian’s primary job is to produce faux-sophisticated nonsensical apologetics intended to distract from the actual teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Their work is so utterly and transparently meaningless that it cannot stand up to even the mildest of scrutiny.

As long as these theologians remain within their echo chambers, they are safe from criticism. Within their protected bubbles, they never have to acknowledge the true harm done by the Catholic Church. They are coddled, surrounded by yes-men who ensure that they will never have to face true academic scrutiny.

But when they step outside of that comfort zone and are confronted with the teachings of the Catholic Church and the real-world consequences of those teachings, all bets are off. The bubble bursts and their “sophisticated theology” is quickly exposed for the obfuscatory nonsense that it is.

Enter Catholic theologian John Haught of Georgetown University (a Jesuit institution). Long story short: recently, at the University of Kentucky, he debated Jerry Coyne on the question of whether or not science and religion are compatible, a debate in which Haught performed poorly. Then, a few days ago, Dr. Robert Rabel, the head of the institution that sponsored the debate, the Gaines Center for the Humanities, informed Jerry that Haught had demanded that the video recording of the debate not be posted online (Jerry had been eager to post the video on his site). Rabel, for whatever reason, decided to give in to Haught’s demand. Further, Rabel refused Jerry’s request for a copy of the video with Haught’s parts edited out, and, together with Haught, proceeded to deny Jerry’s other reasonable requests. Haught’s reason for refusing to release the video? The debate: “failed to meet what [he] consider[s] to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange”. Back to that in a minute.

Yesterday, Jerry posted about Haught’s refusal and Rabel’s enabling of that refusal. This post received a great deal of attention, put Haught and Rabel under scrutiny, and gave both men a crash-course in “Streisand effect“-ology. After engaging in blackmail of a sort, Haught has apparently now agreed to release the video. Anyway, be sure to read Jerry’s two posts (1, 2) on this for a more detailed explanation of the whole mess.

Haught’s claim that the debate wasn’t a “fruitful academic exchange” is very telling. Although I imagine that it’s primarily an attempt to “save face”, it’s also indicative of Haught’s warped notions of academic standards. Haught’s experiences in the echo chamber of Jesuit higher education have led him to conclude that rigorous academic inquiry is acceptable and “fruitful” if and only if it presents no real challenge to his beliefs or to the career that he has built around those beliefs. Remember, theologians have the most to lose.

He wasn’t prepared. He didn’t realize that Jerry was going to confront him with examples of the real-life harm that the Catholic Church causes. Haught was forced to acknowledge the fact that all Catholics must eventually face: whether or not they personally adhere to the most damaging dogmas and practices of the Catholic Church, their support of the institution makes them at least somewhat complicit in the harm that it causes. And Haught has a lot more to answer for than the average Catholic, for he supports and defends the institution much more publicly and vociferously than most of his fellow laypeople. Haught is angry because Jerry provided a clear explanation of the horrible consequences of various Catholic beliefs and actions. In other words, when Haught claims that the debate “failed to meet what [he] consider[s] to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange”, what he’s really saying is that “Coyne dared to question me. He had the gall to question my Church. I didn’t want to be challenged. I shouldn’t have to be challenged. Such scrutiny is unacceptable”.

Haught’s warped view of what constitutes “fruitful academic exchange” is the direct result of the Jesuit echo chamber in which he and so many other educators reside. The Jesuit motto is Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, “all for the greater glory of God”. And it’s more than just a maxim, for when academic inquiry and Catholicism come into conflict, Catholicism wins every time. In the Jesuit world, God trumps all. Over the past few weeks, Haught has learned the hard way that when he ventures too far outside of his protective bubble, he will be confronted with the dangerous beliefs and actions of the Catholic Church, the institution that he has dedicated his life to promoting and defending. Many of the Church’s actions aren’t pretty, and, until Haught is willing to acknowledge that, he shouldn’t be surprised or angered when he gets thoroughly trounced in a debate.

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44 Responses to John Haught, Jesuit education, and the real-life consequences of Catholic teachings

  1. […] blogosphere.  P.Z. Myers posted on this, as did Ophelia at Butterflies and Wheels (twice), Miranda Hale, Jason at EvolutionBlog, as well as Eric MacDonald and erv. It’s heartening that, despite […]

  2. Not surprising they don’t like to be questioned considering they want people to accept those beliefs on ‘faith’.

    I think they believe that faith means they should never be questioned, and may feel that everyone should abide by that unofficial rule.

  3. Zergu says:

    I wanted to comment on Facebook about the Romanian Orthodox Church receiving EU funds for a project which stated that was supposed to give some children a life long education, but they forgot to remove (intentionally left?) a reference about catechism. They received about 1.2 million euros and they used it strictly for catechism, as if the de facto mandatory indoctrination hours in public schools wasn’t enough. In other words, the EU founded childhood indoctrination.

    (Miranda, do you have any idea why I can’t comment on your facebook page?)

  4. Paul says:

    Excellent article, Miranda. It is sadly the case that very few religious apologists can hold their own in the cut and thrust of a real debate. Faith does not stand up to logic. It it did, there would be no need for faith. We only have to google any debate involving Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens to see relgion being put to the sword by cold hard reason. I don’t profess to know all the answers but it seems the church rarely understands the significance of the question. At least, as Miranda wrote, the very asking of the question, or indeed any question, is discouraged in the strongest terms.

    Did anyone else watch the intellignce (squared) debate recently regarding the question ‘is the Catholic church a force for good in the world?’

    I feel there is little I can add to what was said by a much better orator than I. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Stephen Fry –

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbvr0m_the-intelligence-debate-stephen-fr_shortfilms

  5. Mel Walker says:

    I, too, experienced that particular form of cognitive dissonance. I went to BYU. Mormonism also must never be questioned. A lot of the professors could easily handle academic confrontation, but not the religion professors, even when they disagreed with each other.

  6. Peter Cruise says:

    Bottom line: intellectual cowardice nourished by ceremony and privilege. Not unique to Catholic apologists, but they do arrogance so well…

  7. Jim Paquette says:

    “Our answer to the Great Question is the only logical one. Our Science is great. Let us not forget the great Richard Dawkins who finally freed the world of religion long ago. Dawkins knew that logic and reason were the way of the future. But it wasn’t until he met his beautiful wife that he learned using logic and reason isn’t enough. You have to be a dick to everyone who doesn’t think like you. Prepare all the troops! We will level the United Atheist Alliance to the ground!”

  8. Ed Dietrich says:

    Attending a Lutheran elementary school for eight years, I received a very good education considering the amount of religion taught. It did place far ahead of my peers when I entered into a NYC public high school. I never perceived any religious bias in my subjects except one: earth science. I waited all year for the last chapters in the text book regarding evolution and dinosaurs only to have it ‘taught’ to us via self-study. I only realized years later that it stood in direct contradiction to the Bronze Age myth of the ancient Israelites. Hardly mattered though, my own personal library was well-stocked with scientific dinosaur books.

  9. GonzoG says:

    In my particular belief system, science and religion do not conflict.

    To boil it down, “SCIENCE” explains the “HOW” of the Universe, while “RELIGION” explains the “WHY”.

    Science without a Religion breeds Materialism, while Religion without Science begets Superstition.

    Science without the moral grounding of Religion can be a danger. In a world without some absolutes, Science can go unchecked. There are SOME lines in science that should NOT be crossed, yet, some decide to cross them. They justify this in the name of Science. Some feel they will be praised once the value of their research is recognized. Others feel they will not be caught. A firm moral education with prohibitions that are beyond question is necessary.

    Alternately, Religion without perspective of science can lead to a absolutism that refuses to accept and often actively seeks to suppress new ideas (much like the Jesuits in the essay). This absolutism also often seeks to suppress other ideas. Political, Scientific, Religious, or any belief different from the Religious.

    Yes, this is a balancing act–but balance is necessary in all things.

    • Sigmund says:

      But a religion that FULLY takes account of the findings of science will be one without supernaturalism or relevation. The only moral guidance such a ‘religion’ can offer will be indistinguishable from secular ethics.
      Do you suppose that atheists are opposed to secular ethics?

    • Joe Mellon says:

      I disagree GonzoG: it is Philosophy explains Why.

      Religion is one approach to the transcendent: as also is science and philosophy. Religion only becomes dangerous when you mistake it for either science, philosophy or ethics.

      Are you possibly conflating religion with ethics?

      • Dale Hansen says:

        St. Thomas Aquinas proved both.

        • David Evans says:

          “St. Thomas Aquinas proved both.”

          Fascinating. So why are there continuing arguments on the subject?

          Euclid proved a number of theorems in geometry. For that reason, those theorems are no longer the subject of argument. Aquinas’ proofs seem to have been less convincing.

    • Dale Hansen says:

      well put

  10. Functional Atheist says:

    What an interesting brouhaha. The link to the debate is now up at Richard Dawkins’ site, and I look forward to listening. Congratulations on being cited by Professor Coyne in his blog.

    I do think it is valid to draw distinctions among universities and colleges with ties to religious denominations. My alma mater, Willamette University, has an historical association with the Methodist Church, but beyond the small Chaplain’s office I could discern absolutely no impact of Methodism, or Christianity, on the university or the education it offered. Like most institutions associated with mainstream denominations, mandatory chapel was banned half a century ago.

    My point can be summarized: I would not reject out-of-hand the notion of attending a Georgetown or a Notre Dame for graduate school, or law school, but I would never attend Liberty University, Oral Roberts University, or Bob Jones University. When it comes to higher education, Catholic institutions aren’t nearly as atrocious as it gets, either in terms of curriculum or student life. Students at wacky evangelical Protestant universities can proudly (and accurately) chant “WE ARE CRAZIER! WE ARE CRAZIER!”

  11. Well done Miranda! Religion in general keeps the world cloaked in an unreal reality. It removes reason, and inquiry. And it holds back progress. Regardless what theists believe there can be no balance between reason and faith. The notion that such balance exists is another deception of faith. There is no need for faith. Materialism vs Superstition is a false dichotomy. Science doesn’t lead to materialism. It allows the mind to go wherever the answers exist. the scientific process allows researchers to pose ANY question and then find ways to prove those notions correct. Whether it be by reason, logic, mathematics, induction, or deduction. There is no rational tool that is not used to push the boundaries of the knowable. But relition can’t say this. It is bounded by the lack of reason and the scientific process. It has no tools to deal with progressive ideas. Hence it often leads to blind alleys and unprovable notions. This materialism vs superstition is a perfect example of how relgion distorts the truth. The claim of materialism must be made as a convenient way to allow ghosts, demons, and other unprovable entitites to exist. It is in fact their own means of validating what they could otherwise not do via the scientific method.

    • Dale Hansen says:

      …denial…you use faith everyday. How do you drive on two lane roads without becoming paralyzed?

      • Joe Mellon says:

        This is an ontological error: you label two quite different phenomena or mental processes with the word ‘faith’.

        Driving on a road one makes an implicit statistical judgement about what will happen, weighs risks and benefits and decides to proceed (or not).

        Comtemplating whether the assertion ‘God exists and is a Catholic’ is true or not does not fall into the same category.

        As Bertrand Russel noted, there are limitless non falsifiable assertions that one can choose to ‘have faith in’ or not, such as ‘There is a pot of hot Assam tea circling Jupiter.’

        • Dale Hansen says:

          You are telling me that you make that assessment every time you decide to make a move? Please. It is not an ontological error, but a fact in how we interact with the world around us. That kind of elitism over intellectualizes something that one cannot explain. It doesn’t matter about the tea pot if one can have faith in what is true. Then science and spirituality can walk hand in hand. I let you prove your tea pot, and you let me enjoy the mystery.

          • Joe Mellon says:

            > You are telling me that you make that assessment every time you decide to make a move?

            Yes! The brain (also of cats and horses…) process the information it receives as best it can in order to achieve the aims it sets itself: this can involved accepting difficulty, effort and danger because the world is like that. It does this very well and very quickly because it is the product of millions of years of evolution: the ones that didn’t process it well didn’t have offspring.

            An individual does not (if they are sane) have ‘faith’ that is it safe to drive along the road, they just calculate and accept the risk (or not)

            There is no metaphysical assertion of ‘safety through faith’.Having ‘faith’ in an incalculable assertion (religious or otherwise) is another type of process entirely.

            > It doesn’t matter about the tea pot if one can have faith in what is true.

            Ah yes: but that is the question isn’t it? What *is* true?

            > you let me enjoy the mystery.

            Enjoy! Enjoy!

  12. Joe Mellon says:

    Well, I am sure you have read Hitchens ‘God is not great’.

    Not release a video? It used to be a lot worse!
    Dissident academics were executed by torture, and even in the 18th century Hume published contentious anti-religious works anonymously for fear of prosecution.

    I am a recovering Catholic myself too ;-), and went on to Tibetan Buddhism… They are also completely in denial about their own shortcomings, crimes, and the weakness of some of their propositions.

    I have however heard very good things about the Jesuit School of Philosophy in Munich
    http://www.hfph.mwn.de/index_html-en?set_language=en

  13. Joe Mellon says:

    There is one simple test for how dangerous and dodgy a meme is:
    – how often do they wear funny hats?

    Religions, the military … and I am afraid academia is also not entirely safe!

    My remark is not entirely flippant: when people want to exercise power and do not possess the inherent authority, they bolster it with symbols, and for some reason the more authority they want and the wobblier their position the more they seem to love funny hats…

  14. Dale Hansen says:

    I find you interesting, artistic, poetic, ecstatically pleasing, and intellectually stimulating. I find your points in this writing valid, but respectfully not your generalizations. Even though this one man, and your experiences prove an incomplete and bias thinking process on their part, I would hope that your well placed challenge wouldn’t be tainted in the same way. I am Catholic. Your points do not threaten me nor my faith. I am unaware of any recent Catholic teaching that makes science and religion directly opposed.
    Evolution, The Big Bang, and modern technology are all reality that has a very real place in modern thinking. I am living a very Catholic faith in a very real world.
    The teachings that I follow:( http://www.vatican.va/archive/index.htm) including my spiritual director, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, would not disagree with your call to dialogue.
    There! Besides those ugly experiences that you wrote so well about, you know one Catholic, and many more by my count, that are standing by your side. No bubble. No editing.
    You are great! Keep them coming.

  15. Dale Hansen says:

    …and the term “Recovering Catholic” is only used by those that do not understand, nor are willing to commit to the truth. They don’t like what they hear so they start church hopping, or intellectualize their decisions because they became uncomfortable. It is such a condescending term. I respect your critical thinking and faith choices, and my faith is not a disease from which you are recovering, but your lack of humility is. Why can’t you just call yourself Christian and be the loving community member that Christ called us to be?

  16. Joe Mellon says:

    Well, Dale; I amn’t a Christian!

    Thank you for your interest in my views…clearly you disagree with me.
    but well … eh… just taking the very last post you assert that I:
    – do not understand
    – am not willing to commit to the truth
    – church hop because I don’t like what I hear
    – intellectualise my false decisions
    – implicitly have made false decisions
    – am condescending
    – lack humilty

    Just to make a suggestion – you forgot to say that my feet smell!
    (There is no evidence for that either)

    > be the loving community member

    I will take you as my example and try my best…

    > St. Thomas Aquinas proved both.
    Of course he did: the Dominicans were founded to preach the Gospel and to combat heresy. So that is Ok then.

    In fact I think the Papal Bull Ad_exstirpanda of 1252, Pope Innocent IV authorised the Dominicans’ use of torture under prescribed circumstances.

    I assume that is still in force and if only they would make more use of it then less people would be so deluded and lacking in humility as myself.

    • Jim Paquette says:

      Joe, I do not believe that Ad extirpanda has been explicitly overruled, however current Church teaching would regard torture as morally unacceptable and intrinsically evil.

      • Joe Mellon says:

        > current Church teaching

        So next year they can change their mind again?

        Glad to know that the Church which is infallible on faith and morals is sufficiently flexible not to take its own claims too seriously.

        No doubt too Pope Innocent (!) – and all the thousands of Dominican torturers over centuries – will be absolved for their ‘intrinsicially evil’ errors and be made truely innocent.

        Then again the Church could change its mind again and they wouldn’t need absolved…

        • Jim Paquette says:

          I think you have been misinformed. The Church is not infallible on faith and morals in all cases at all times. It is also flexible enough to amend its teachings much like the United States Constitution once permitted slavery but no longer does.

          As to the absolution of Pope Innocent or anyone who committed torture during that time, absolution is not automatically given to anyone just because Church teaching changes.

          • Joe Mellon says:

            > The Church is not infallible on faith and morals in all cases at all times.

            No – of course it is not actually infallible at all… :-)

            But it believes the Pope to be infallible when speaking on faith and morals, as for instance when he issues a Papal Bull…(?) I really don’t know the theology of it, and that isn’t the point.

            > It is also flexible enough to amend its teachings much like the United States Constitution once permitted slavery but no longer does.

            But the US constitution does not claim to be an infallible teacher of ethics…

            If you are that wrong, for that long about something which is ‘intrinsically evil’ such as torture what confidence can anyone have on their current opinions?
            Maybe contraception is a very good idea? Maybe it was a bad idea to enable the escape of SS officers to South America?
            Maybe it was a bad idea to support Franco? Maybe Opus Dei is also ‘intrinsically evil’?

            The point is – for reliable advice on these topics, don’t turn to the Catholic church: they fluffed their calls too often.

          • Jim Paquette says:

            >No – of course it is not actually infallible at all… :-) Good one :)

            >But it believes the Pope to be infallible when speaking on faith and morals, as for instance when he issues a Papal Bull…(?) I really don’t know the theology of it, and that isn’t the point.

            It really is the point. To say that the Catholic Church believes in total infallibility of all its teachings at all times is incorrect and to condemn it for that is to do so for something that isn’t true. Point in fact, I believe there are only 7 teachings by the Catholic Church that are considered to be infallible.

            > for reliable advice on these topics, don’t turn to the Catholic church: they fluffed their calls too often.

            If one needs to have a religion that claims to have ALL the perfect answers in EVERY situation at any given time, then I would heed your warning because it will not be found in Roman Catholicism.

          • A Pope invokes infallibility only when he speaks ex cathedra.

            Jim is right. When engaging in these arguments/debates, it’s very important to get our facts straight.

    • Dale Hansen says:

      nice to meet you Mr. Mellon

    • Dale Hansen says:

      …false is your words, not mine. I respect your decisions though I don’t agree with them, and none of my assertions require proof. It is what it is. Please stop acting like your recovering from alcohol, or drugs. You walked away from the Eucharist, simple truth… (spiritual choices) Finally torture is wrong no matter who is doing it. Radicals within my faith do not represent the truth of who I am, but is a real part of my faith’s history. That is why these kinds of debates are so important…to bring out the truth. This blog is about dialogue, and I am honored to have such a lively one with you.

  17. It seems that the basis of the author’s argument is grounded simply in his own life experience, and in an anecdotal story involving one Catholic apologist who performed poorly in a single debate. He brushes off any responsibility to give further proof by simply stating that his premise is “widely-known and widely accepted.” But this hardly makes for a solid argument. If this is the best the author can muster, then he too would fail miserably if similarly challenged in a debate. His argument boils down to this: “People in the Catholic education system are unable to think critically, and my proof is that I didn’t think critically when I was growing up, and neither does this one guy I read about. And besides that, everybody else thinks it’s true, so it must be.”
    Nowhere is mentioned the Church’s countless contributions to the advancement of science, law, civil engineering, medicine, and so on. For the author to say that people of faith live in a “bubble” and are “deprived of the opportunity to develop and utilize critical thinking skills” ignores the obvious “critical thinking” that was necessary for Catholics to achieve such great successes in so many arenas.
    One example: Msgr. Georges Lemaitre (a Jesuit! and a product of the schools that the above author criticizes) formulated what is now called the Big Bang Theory, which challenged not only the faith of many Christians, but also the established scientific theories of the day. Lemaître was not afraid to think beyond a simple faith, even if it meant being criticized from both sides of the aisle. For every example that the author can give of some person of faith who is unable to “think outside the box” there are many more examples of Catholic-educated thinkers who revolutionized science and other areas of study even when it meant challenging the status quo.

    • Joe Mellon says:

      It would seem to be more plausible that advances in “science, law, civil engineering, medicine, and so on.” happened with the eclipse of religious authority with first the reformation and then the enlightenment.

      PS: “The author…” Don’t the Catholics just love ad hominem arguements?

    • 1) I’m a she, not a he.

      2) Your dismissiveness, condescension, and smugness are noted.

      3) I’ve written a great deal about Catholicism. Some examples can be found here and here.I’d wager a considerable sum that I am far more knowledgeable about Catholicism, Catholic teachings, Catholic history, the Jesuit educational system, etc., than you. I’m normally not one for such “competitions”, but your dismissiveness and condescension have brought out The Feisty in me, so, if you want to dispute me, feel free to bring it on.

    • cornbread_r2 says:

      Please detail the contributions that “the Church” has made to the sciences, as opposed to the contributions that individual Catholics have made.

      Do you know what The Index of Forbidden Books was and whose works were on it?

      Thomists freaking LOVE the Big Bang Theory for one reason only: it can misrepresented to imply that the universe had a beginning and, therefore, a necessary First Cause.

      How many priests do you know who would tell Catholic Young Earth Creationists that they are wrong?

      • Jim Paquette says:

        To say that the universe as we know it, and is it is currently defined, had a beginning is not a misrepresentation. Now it may be the case that some time in the future that definition may have to be changed to include a multiverse, but one step at a time. For now these ideas are only theoretical and remain good hypotheses for what existed before the Big Bang, or in the case of colliding branes, what may have in fact caused it.

        Personally I know at least three priests I feel comfortable speaking for that would tell Catholic Young Earth Creationists they are wrong. There is an even greater number I’m pretty sure about, but have never discussed the issue with them. I am curious to know how many priests do you know who would tell Catholic Young Earth Creationists they are right.

        • cornbread_r2 says:

          The priests I know would likely say that Catholics are permitted to believe whatever they want about the issue of evolution– as long as it doesn’t conflict with church doctrine — especially the doctrine of Original Sin. In other words, doctrine always trumps science. That’s the reason science and religion are incompatible.

  18. 1) I apologize for misidentifying you as a man. A friend recommended that I read this post, so I came into it cold (simply reading the text he presented and then responding). I was focusing on the substance of what was posted, not the identity of the author. It was only after I commented that realized my mistake. Again, I apologize.

    2) You made some pretty broad generalizations about the Catholic education system. I didn’t see any factual support for those claims. I would expect some data or research to back your statements. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t hold up when I can provide my own examples (personal and otherwise) that refute your claim. It just doesn’t make for a sound argument. If you think that is “smug” then I am sorry, but when you put something like this out there for public consumption you have to expect some criticism.

    3) If you know so much about the Catholic education system, then by all means provide the data that is required to justify your above claims. If you can provide that data, then I have no argument with you.

  19. Mrinalini says:

    The whole article has been blurred. By whom? Seems some religious maggots.

  20. stephen s says:

    Miranda, I loved your post. I also spent time with the Jesuits and noticed the same dissonance. You will learn critical thinking skills, but you will NOT apply those skills to the church or its teachings.

    You wrote:
    “A theologian’s primary job is to produce faux-sophisticated nonsensical apologetics intended to distract from the actual teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Their work is so utterly and transparently meaningless that it cannot stand up to even the mildest of scrutiny.”

    Wonderfully and devastatingly stated! While listening to Huaght, I had an image of Haught blowing little rainbow colored sophistry bubbles. I laughed, out loud on hearing his hierarchy structure. Clearly, we missed the “transformation” that would have made sense of his inane arguments.

  21. John G Messerly says:

    John Haught made a number of problematic or obviously false claims.

    For example, he says: The new atheists don’t want to think out the implications of a complete absence of deity … The implications should be nihilism.

    This is more than problematic, it is manifestly false. Nihilism no more follows automatically from atheism than does meaningfulness from theism. As I argue in my recent book, The Meaning of Life: Religious, Philosophical, Scientific, and Transhumanist Perspectives, both nihilistic and non-nihilistic views can follow from either atheism or theism. Most importantly, the view that theism does not guarantee meaningfulness is the generally accepted view among contemporary philosophers, of whom only about 15% are theists. The majority of the remaining 85% of philosophers are not nihilists, as Haught’s argument implies they would be.

    Next Haught suggests that theism justifies hope, whereas atheism cannot: the rest of the post is at reasonandmeaning.com

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