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Author Topic: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies  (Read 5810 times)

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Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« on: October 05, 2008, 10:01:03 AM »

The problem I'm having here is that the Vatican is attempting to prescribe the disease and then provide the cure, in a place where clearly not everyone is convinced the disease exists in the first place.

This tirade uses godless in the same manner that Anne Coulter does; it's talking down to, it's making you look odd man out, making you look guilty. But perhaps much of the godless masses, to paraphrase the late George Carlin, doesn't give a frack.

Nothing that I have seen or heard during my 40+ years on the planet have convinced me that societies definitely need religion. World history and progress on the whole has been ball-gagged and gang-raped by religion more than any other social force on the planet. History proves that too much religion is certainly a bad thing, but there's no evidence the opposite is true as well.

The pope's very tone is adversarial and elitist; it happens to be an opinion that lack of religion is causing nations to 'lose their identity' or are harmful or destructive. Harmful and destructive? Losing their identity? Put the full weight of a theocracy on a nation...talk about pot calling kettle black.

What some call loss of identity others might refer to societies finally getting out from under the yoke of ideological tyranny, or at the very least, a little more breathing space.

It's come up time and again in recent years that large portions of Europe has been moving off from religion, IMHO they are to be applauded for it. I have to ask what this is really about...a society's loss of identity, or an establishment’s loss of the control and influence it's enjoyed for centuries.

Not attending a church, mosque, or temple doesn't make you a bad person, and nor does finally figuring out that you don't need organized religion in your life.

I think some societies and nations are just growing up finally to some degree. It's like that kid up the street that you knew from high school that always had awesome weed to sell...at some point you got older and realized it just doesn't pack the kind of buzz you need now, and you leave him far behind.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081005/ap_on_re_eu/eu_vatican_godless_society


Quote
ROME - Pope Benedict XVI warned Sunday that modern culture is pushing God out of people's lives, causing nations once rich in religious faith to lose their identities.


Benedict celebrated a Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to open a worldwide meeting of bishops on the relevance of the Bible for contemporary Catholics.

"Today, nations once rich in faith and vocations are losing their own identity, under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture," said Benedict, who has been pushing for religion to be given more room in society.

The meeting of 253 bishops, known as a synod of bishops, will run from Monday through Oct. 26. The Vatican said that despite Benedict's efforts to improve relations with Communist China, no bishops have come from the mainland, although there are prelates from Macau and Hong Kong.

"Surely they tried, I mean the Holy See tried but obviously they could not make agreement," Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen told AP Television News as he entered the basilica.

"Maybe the Holy See welcomes someone that they (the Chinese) would not allow," he said, adding that China might try to send a bishop who is not acceptable to the Holy See.

Chinese bishops have not been allowed to travel to similar meetings in the past.

Ties between the Vatican and China's communist government have long been strained. Beijing objects to the Vatican's tradition of having the pope name his own bishops, calling it interference in China.

China appoints bishops for the state-sanctioned Catholic church. In recent years, some of those bishops have received the Vatican's tacit approval.

Still, many of the country's estimated 12 million Catholics worship in congregations outside the state-approved church with bishops loyal to the pope.

A document prepared for the meeting rejects a fundamentalist approach to the Bible and said a key challenge was to clarify for the faithful the relationship of scripture to science. A rabbi will address the conference on Monday in what is believed to be the first time a Jew has participated in such a meeting.




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Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2008, 01:03:58 PM »
Doesn't he trot that line out at least once every few months?

Online Zakharra

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2008, 02:21:45 PM »
 A non-religious society isn't necessarily nicer than a religious one. Religion has sponsored and caused/aided in many wars, but this last century has shown that a secular society can be equally destructive and bad. The Germany of the 1930's and 40's, the USSR, Communist China, N. Korea are all/were secular societies and they are very repressive.

 On the other side, religion has done good things. easing peoples needs and offering comfort. The same for a secular nation. It's the people that can make something work. As it is, I have no problem with secularism, as long as it's not pushed on everyone. Religion does have it's place in public life.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2008, 04:14:44 PM »
I will say this simply, religion isn't the world's problem, it's people that are the world's problem. Atheists can be just as fanatical as most people with religion. People, Nature's wild card. 

Offline Methos

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2008, 04:17:57 PM »
To characterize religion as the cause or solution to all mankind's problems would be foolish. What religion can be is a means for people to develop values and beliefs that give meaning to their life. To some extent I think the Pope has a point in that many people have a deteriorated ability to make moral judgements, hence was see much by the way of relativism. I personally find relativism to be intellectually lazy and ill informed, but lacking any moral standard I supose it comes easy to some.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2008, 05:46:59 PM »
A non-religious society isn't necessarily nicer than a religious one. Religion has sponsored and caused/aided in many wars, but this last century has shown that a secular society can be equally destructive and bad. The Germany of the 1930's and 40's, the USSR, Communist China, N. Korea are all/were secular societies and they are very repressive.


See, here's the problem I'm seeing. All the regimes you mentioned actively stamped out the pursuit and practice of religion. I agree that's easily as bad, but whether it's a dictator telling you can have no church, or a hotshot cleric like in much of the Middle East telling you you have to worship the state religion; either way it's just some earthbound mortal prick that wants you to believe he knows better than you.

This is something completely different; this is societies making deliberate large scale shifts away from religion. I'm sure there's multiple reasons for this. I'm sure many indeed are too wrapped up in the material aspects of modern life to have time to pay lip service to a god, but likely there are many more like myself as well. Agnostic and confident in the fact that when it comes to concepts nobody can prove anyway, nobody really does know than me. The agnostics that make up part of this situation don't necessarily deny the existence of a god but we deny his given and popular definitions, and we most certainly deny man, which as Inkidu put it, is the world's problem.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2008, 05:52:41 PM by The Overlord »

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2008, 05:51:38 PM »
To characterize religion as the cause or solution to all mankind's problems would be foolish. What religion can be is a means for people to develop values and beliefs that give meaning to their life. To some extent I think the Pope has a point in that many people have a deteriorated ability to make moral judgements, hence was see much by the way of relativism. I personally find relativism to be intellectually lazy and ill informed, but lacking any moral standard I supose it comes easy to some.

I wouldn't put it quite so either. Religion is just another means to an end, but it gets bad because it often believes the end justifies the means. Organized religion is just one more reason for humans to act foolishly, and it's doubly dangerous because it announces that foolery as perfectly OK, even decreed so by the almighty.

I agree an uncomfortably large amount of people seem to have no real moral judgement, but religious structure is not necessarily what they need, or is the only answer for their problem. Relativism has its merits, but it's not the all-encompassing answer any more than religion is.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2008, 05:57:23 PM by The Overlord »

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Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2008, 11:23:58 AM »
Doesn't he trot that line out at least once every few months?

That one and sex is evil.

... which ... makes us the antichrist or something. I think.

Anyhow... the way I see it, it's not the religion that makes a place evil or whatever; it's the people. Nice people will use religion in nice ways. Mean people or ruthless people will use religion in mean or ruthless ways. Just like any other tool.

Simple.

Offline Sabby


Offline Methos

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2008, 04:06:57 PM »
I wouldn't put it quite so either. Religion is just another means to an end, but it gets bad because it often believes the end justifies the means. Organized religion is just one more reason for humans to act foolishly, and it's doubly dangerous because it announces that foolery as perfectly OK, even decreed so by the almighty.

I agree an uncomfortably large amount of people seem to have no real moral judgement, but religious structure is not necessarily what they need, or is the only answer for their problem. Relativism has its merits, but it's not the all-encompassing answer any more than religion is.

Seeing religion simply as a means to an end is a rather cynical way of looking at it. It can be a source of meaning, hope and comfort to any number of people. It provide cover for some people to do outrageous things, but so can any idea and creed.  As has been pointed out evil has been done in the name of socialism, or solidarity, fraternity and liberty as well as in that of one god or another.

Religious structure is not necessarily what people need. But some sort of moral framework is. Saying all things and all actions are morally equal is intellectually dishonest and has no merit whatsoever as its clearly not the case. Religion is at the very least valuable as an organizing block for society as its provides that moral structure that can later be adapted and adjusted when dealing with the world. Most people can take issue with some degree or specific aspects of organized religion but the underlying message can usually be boiled down to 'don't be a jackass and try to get along with other people'. That really isn't a terrible notion to have incultated into the populace.

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Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2008, 05:25:54 PM »
Morality is very fluid though. What is moral or immoral changes over time, and from culture to culture. There almost cannot be absolute morality.

There is an individual on another board I'm on, a very commited christian who argues that anything the christian god does must by its definition be good and moral, since a good god couldn't do an evil act. He argues that the more bloodthirsty bits in the old testament are perfectly fine. "God made everything, therefore he can do whatever he wants with it." is his viewpoint.

So, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the flodding of the Earth, and the countless millions who would have died if that really happened, all perfectly good and moral. If I killed off a few million people, I doubt anyone would consider me good or moral.

Offline Happy an Nice

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2008, 05:43:05 PM »
Tom Robbins wrote:

Quote
Religion was an attempt to pin down the Divine. The Divine was eternally in flux, forever moving, shifting shape. That was its nature. It was absolute, true enough: absolutely mobile. Absolutely transcendent. Absolutely flexible. Absolutely impersonal. It had its god and goddess aspects, but it was ultimately no more male or female that it was star or screwdriver. It was the sum of all those things, but that sum could never be chalked on a slate. The Divine was beyond description, beyond knowing, beyond comprehension. To say that the Divine was Creation divided by Destruction was as close as one could come to definition. But the puny of soul, the dull of wit, weren't content with that. They wanted to hang a face on the Divine. They went so far as to attribute petty human emotions (anger, jealousy, etc.) to it, not stopping to realize that if God were a being, even a supreme being, our prayers would have bored him to death long ago. The Divine was expansive, but religion was reductive. Religion attempted to reduce the Divine to a knowable quantity with which mortals might efficiently deal, to pigeonhole it once and for all so that we never had to reevaluate it. With hammers of cant and spikes of dogma, we crucified and crucified again, trying to nail to our stationary altars the migratory light of the world.

Thus, since religion bore false witness to the Divine, religion was blasphemy. And once it entered into its unholy alliance with politics, it became the most dangerous and repressive force that the world has ever known.
Religion is nothing but institutionalized mysticism. The catch is, mysticism does not lend itself to institutionalization. The moment we attempt to organize mysticism, we destroy its essence. Religion, then, is mysticism in which the mystical has been killed. Or, at least diminished.

We do our best to rationalize and organize things. We give them basic structures we can comprehend. But in the end, it's like asking the paint to understand the masterpiece. We do our best.



Offline Happy an Nice

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2008, 05:52:46 PM »
To characterize religion as the cause or solution to all mankind's problems would be foolish. What religion can be is a means for people to develop values and beliefs that give meaning to their life. To some extent I think the Pope has a point in that many people have a deteriorated ability to make moral judgements, hence was see much by the way of relativism. I personally find relativism to be intellectually lazy and ill informed, but lacking any moral standard I supose it comes easy to some.

I agree with you. I raise my children Roman Catholic. Before their father died, I offered to raise them in his faith, but sadly, he ascribed to none. So, having been brought up with the RC ruler on the back of my knuckles, I knew it the best. Raising children with a religion is helpful for us. I don't believe there is no goodness without religion and equally that all religious are good and decent.

I think it aids in giving my children an outline of the moral structure I generally adhere to. But it is a crude outline of what I believe to be "it." Still, with no credentials of my own in establishing much of what's already been done, finding it easier to edit than to write.

Faith over Dogma. But laws are needed for society, so too, among the masses, they are needed for the soul.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2008, 06:49:35 PM »
That one and sex is evil.


When are people going to grow and get over this one? I'm mean sex has been with us...forever? Not like it's going anywhere.  :-\

Makes me think of Dragoncon this Labor Day, when Edward James Olmos started off on a tangent and checked himself, remarking how we've got a very messed up view of sexuality in the US, but it's clearly more than that. What's with major faiths anyway like Christianity and Islam, besides any others, they do seem to have a very barbaric, naive and almost childish attitude on the topic.

Offline Happy an Nice

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2008, 09:02:38 PM »
Pleasurable Sex is a holy thing. A gift from a benevolent maker, if we are made, for our sentient nature.

If there is a God, and that God made us, then pleasurable sex is a higher expression of our existence which orders above non-sentient beings if any life is to be respected more than another.

*Goes even more blond in her logic and shuts up*



Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2008, 08:13:29 AM »

Look folks, and I know from the getgo here that I might ruffle some feathers-


None of the everyday 'sins' are sins. Sex is part of biology. If it was meant that we just reproduce, then god, or whatever the frack made us, would have just given us the urge to reproduce, he wouldn't have made it pleasurable too. He wouldn't have given us the most crucial sex organ of all; the brain.

Same with alcohol...some Christian denominations ban it/frown on it, and most of Islam bans it.

This is all the word of man, not god, but man. Anyway you want to slice it and justify it, it's just somebody being offended by something and deciding someone else shouldn't do it. There's nothing divine about it, but these are despots that hijack their own religion to make the world the way they want it to be.

And the Vatican is the last religious entity to tell people who they should and should not be having sex with, given a decades-long campaign of sweeping under the rug the fact that countless priests have violated little children in the worst way. They can go to hell.

What I long to see is when large percentages population finally grow a pair, get their asses out of the dark ages and tell organized religion to frack off and shut the hell up. Then again, part of the populations turning away might be doing just that.

One can only hope.

Online Zakharra

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2008, 08:55:23 AM »
 I can see your point, Overlord, but there must be something to replace it. Saying that religion should be tossed aside, which is what you seem to be saying, because it is religion, is a rather heavy bias. Society needs something to give it guidance and a moral compass. A non-religious society can be just as bad or worse than a religious one. Whether it is liked or not, one thing religion has done is give a moral compass to what is acceptable. A set of guidelines to what is allowable, an ideal to live up to. Most do not live up to them, but they are there nonetheless.

 I know that morals can change in a society over time, and what will happen in a true non-religious society will be. Hopefully it will not have a quickly loosely defined set of morals that change with the wind, or political tides. Religion, is and of itself is not necessarily bad. It can offer a sense of peace as well.

 It's men that twist words, defining and redefining what is written down and lie and connive to gain power while using their influence to avoid the laws they would set upon others(politicians). Whether religion is used or not, it's not the religion that is bad, but the men that run it.

Offline Methos

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2008, 01:26:17 PM »
Whatever you may think Overlord - and you seem to be advocating some sort of aethistic hedonism, the simple fact of the matter is that humanity has traditionally looked for some moral guidance in how to view the world and live their lives. Whether that has come from religion or philosophy the desire to attain something trancendent is part of the human condition. I can quibble with certain points made by various religious groups but that doesn't make religion itself wrong. All you've done here is raise some objections to specific things one or more religious groups believe, and then according to you because of that religion itself is wrong? That doesn't follow.

Nor it is somehow living in the dark ages to possess some belief in the divine. There is much in the world lacking a ready explaination, nor does "do whatever feels good" necessarily result in a deep or satisfying life. That sort of lifestyle takes a rather short term view of things and eventually will leave one unsatisfied.

Offline Mathim

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2008, 03:06:33 PM »
I've always regarded religion as a tool of control. Those wise or experienced enough to question faith and find that it isn't perfect were the ones who broke away and were able to find happiness without having to believe in something they can't see, hear, smell, taste or touch. Those who didn't question it...well, then we get people who either can't live without it because it's like a weight around their neck, or who use it as an excuse to get away with whatever they want...and OCCASIONALLY we get people who don't abandon it altogether but don't conform to the norm and are content with that. And those factions just create further conflict within it because that creates more differences to argue about. But as long as someone takes the lead and uses it to tell people what to do, they've got a built-in audience with plenty of people who'll obey out of blind faith.

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Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2008, 06:00:18 PM »
I've always regarded religion as a tool of control. Those wise or experienced enough to question faith and find that it isn't perfect were the ones who broke away and were able to find happiness without having to believe in something they can't see, hear, smell, taste or touch. Those who didn't question it...well, then we get people who either can't live without it because it's like a weight around their neck, or who use it as an excuse to get away with whatever they want...and OCCASIONALLY we get people who don't abandon it altogether but don't conform to the norm and are content with that. And those factions just create further conflict within it because that creates more differences to argue about. But as long as someone takes the lead and uses it to tell people what to do, they've got a built-in audience with plenty of people who'll obey out of blind faith.

 .. and what of those people that ARE religious and decent and honest? Just because a person questions religion and moves away from it does not mean they are going to be happy or decent. Religion, in and of itself is not the problem. It is the people who are in it and run it. Just as any other human organization in human history.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2008, 10:37:15 PM »
I can see your point, Overlord, but there must be something to replace it.

That's an opinion.

Some people require a moral compass, it's why we have to have law enforcement or society goes to the dogs. What it comes down to is a matter of psychologies. Society will always have people either willing to lead, even if they lead only themselves, and those willing to be led.

I don't want to lump all religionists in one view, but essentially this is a population segment willing to believe someone knows better than them. As Dr. Carl Sagan put it, religion is belief in the absence of evidence. Apparently that even includes the absence of credible evidence to prove the would-be representatives of a deity are morally and mentally competent enough to lead.

We are lemmings, sheep, by nature. Most of us have a need to feel part of the club. Peer pressure doesn't stop with high school; it only gets worse and take greater and more insidious forms with time, organized religion being among the worst offenders. The fact that cult leaders can convince people to drink poison etc. to meet their maker is proof of what P.T. Barnum always said about another sucker born every minute. The seething masses are gullible.

This does not make organized religion absolutely 100% bad across the board, but by and large we're better off without it. It's an archaic structure from an earlier human age when we were less informed. It's responsible for most of the mass murder and hardship in human history. The pope's speeches are a simple cry to maintain that legacy of control and power.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2008, 10:38:40 PM by The Overlord »

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2008, 11:11:56 AM »
I was raised Roman Catholic from the time I was born up until around the age of 13.  I gave up the whole church thing shortly after my Confirmation, and started looking for a truth that made sense to me.  My grandparents still have a picture of Pope John Paul II in their bedroom, right up there with the Last Supper and the crucifix. 

The Pope is there to make these resounding pulpit-pounding speeches in order for the Catholics to feel better about feeling guilty.  Catholicism is based on the notion that everyone, everywhere, at every time except for those magical five seconds between when you pay your penance and think dirty thoughts about that hot blonde secretary at the office you'd really like to bend over the desk, and anyone elected to be the titular and iconic head of that faith is going to trot out the words to keep you feeling like you need to pay for your spiritual crimes.

The truth is, the Catholic monolith is dying.  By giving end-of-days, every-nation-is-godless speeches, the Pope is trying to revitalize the church.  My province is three quarters Irish descent - you know a lot of us come from old school Catholic stock.  But not many young people go to church anymore to listen to how we're all sinful evil bastages; certainly no one I know goes anymore.  Even my grandfather, arguably the most devout Catholic I know, has stopped going to church because he disagrees with the abandonment of what he calls the "True Mass" ie: when they still spoke it in Latin, and the priest never once faced the congregation. My grandmother still maintains the faithful Sunday worship, but god forbid, she's not going to be around forever, nor are her friends who go to mass with her.

The old blood's trickling out, and new blood isn't coming into the church fast enough to keep the numbers steady.  Studies have shown that people find religion after horrible experiences and end-of-days hysteria.  If the Pope can incite some of that "OMG! I'm a sinner and I don't want to go to hell, I need God to help me out right now!" rhetoric, in the uncertain global and economic environments, he's going to.  The Church can't make any money unless people are giving their pocket change and small bills to the collection plates.

** Note: This is all my own opinion, which is heavily shaded with my own experiences of being raised in the Catholic tradition.  If you're Catholic, good for you. I have nothing against you. After all, I'm a godless heathen, so what do I know? ;) **

Offline Mathim

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2008, 11:16:22 AM »
.. and what of those people that ARE religious and decent and honest? Just because a person questions religion and moves away from it does not mean they are going to be happy or decent. Religion, in and of itself is not the problem. It is the people who are in it and run it. Just as any other human organization in human history.

"and OCCASIONALLY we get people who don't abandon it altogether but don't conform to the norm and are content with that"

That's as nicely as I'm able to put it.

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Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2008, 01:02:46 PM »
 
Quote
It's an archaic structure from an earlier human age when we were less informed. It's responsible for most of the mass murder and hardship in human history.

 Wrong. It's had a longer amount of time to rack up death and misery, but the last century has seen at least over 100 million deaths. Counting WWI, WWII, the deaths from the Soviet's actions and Maoist China. 100 million in a 100 years.. That beggers anything the religions have ever done.

Offline Methos

Re: Pope decries godless nature of modern societies
« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2008, 04:32:40 PM »
Again their really hasn't been any evidence produced here in favour of saying that being without religion is somehow beneficial. All I've seen are extrapolations from the point "I don't like religion" which is a personal opinion sure. However, if your attempting to say the Pope is wrong about decrying godlessness then you really should come with something better than "Religion sucks" as that's about as intelligent an argument is "are so and are not" as there isn't anything of substance to be dealt with.

And really having said we need the police to keep some people in line, that's a concession that morality is necessary. As lacking any morality there could be no basis for saying something was illegal or wrong. Otherwise anything is permissible.