Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fr. Joe watched "The Daily Show" last night and decided to write about it

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sam Harris
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Last night,  Jon Stewart (Comedy Central's "Daily Show") had Sam Harris as his guest. Harris is the founder of "Project Reason", an organization that is dedicated to spreading scientific thought and values. He is also, for all purposes, an atheist.
He was on the show promoting his book, "The Moral Landscape" which, according to the interview, is a treatise on how science can establish a universal morality that would be superior to those moralities established by religion. When he is asked to explain the premise of the book, he quickly launches into "THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!"
He says, "You have an institution like the Catholic Church.The Catholic Church is more concerned about preventing contaception than preventing child rape.It's more concerned about preventing gay marriage than genocide.It's not my opinion of the Catholic Church. It's just based on it's doctrines and its actions in the world."
For an advocate of scientific thought, the above quote is flawed. It's a bad formula.
Is the Catholic Church concerned about preventing contraception? Yes. Morseo than preventing child rape? Yes. Is the Church concerned about preventing gay marriage? Umm...I'll go with a soft 'yes'. Is the church concerned about genocide? Hard 'yes'. What was he talking about then? He's saying basically "The Catholic Church is against any form of artificial birth control and keeping men from marrying each other while at the same time they are protecting priests who commit pedophilia and allowing wars to continue in the world."
The current teaching on artificial birth control is included here. Spoiler alert! It's about artificial birth control within the context of marriage. Although there are some battles over distribution of condoms in rural areas of the world, there is yet no official "dogmatic" word on contraception.
What has the Church done concerning the scandal of priest pedophiles and the coverup? It has taken action on many fronts. And continues to do so. Our own American bishops adapted this strong policy 8 years ago.
What about gay marriage? The sacrament of marriage is reserved for a man and woman for the transmission of life. What about gays anyway? The catechism fills out the need for charity in those relationships while reminding us that theologically, homosexual acts are "intrisically disordered". Does this mean they are going to Hell for being gay? No. No. No.
Genocide? Honestly, I totally am not getting that point unless he's still thinking about our unfortunate relationship with the Crusades.
Crusades: 11th -13th Century
And concerning such bloodletting in the name of Christ and his Church, Pope John Paul II offered this need for forgiveness from God:
"Let us forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God who, in his merciful love, has produced in the Church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbour, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions."

The problem with those who wish to make our faith look medieval, is that they won't let go of the medieval period. We, as a faith, did some things terribly wrong and as we began to develop we learned that slavery is wrong, witches do not exist (or if they do, they aren't hexing people) and the world is not flat. Concomitantly, much of what was known about the world was dictated by the science of the day. Harris goes into attacking Scripture later in the interview and holds the Old Testament version of God to be one who "clearly expects us to keep slaves". Stewart slyly reminds him that this God also says, "Ehh..we should really feed the poor" and says then to Harris, "In your mind, it's like 'ehh, the slavery thing negates the entire thing'".

Harris got at least one thing right in the interview. Scripture is a mixed bag. It's full of contradictions that lead us to the clarity of the New Testament. The New Testament urges us to be charitable. To love one another. To forgive. To turn the other cheek.
I don't believe science can come up with a morality that can beat that which God has put into our hearts from the beginning. Science, if we are judging the past, also is responsible for the Tuskegee experiments and the partial birth abortion. Not something I'd be proud to tout as a founding principle of my moral code.