BillDo Doesn’t Like Blasphemy Day

PZ has already pointed out BillDo’s bit of anticipatory apoplexy over Blasphemy Day.

But I want to draw attention to a specific bit of BillDo’s hypocrisy:

The Center for Inquiry is factually incorrect to say that “Free speech is the foundation on which other liberties rest.” Freedom of conscience is the first liberty, and it is inextricably linked to freedom of religion.

BillDo may have a point, though because of his annoying habit of not providing links, it’s hard to check what CfI actually said. But what are the Catholic church’s thoughts on the matter of freedom of conscience or freedom of thought?

The Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on heresy says:

Freedom of thought extending to the essential beliefs of a Church is in itself a contradiction; for, by accepting membership, the members accept the essential beliefs and renounce their freedom of thought so far as these are concerned.

So if you’re Catholic, you don’t have the freedom to question the Catholic church’s unquestionable dogma.

Okay, that’s not too bad. If you define a member of sect X as someone who believes A, B, and C, but someone doesn’t believe C, then that person doesn’t fit the definition of a member of X. Fair enough.

The entry for blasphemy, however, says:

blasphemy is set down as a word, for ordinarily it is expressed in speech, though it may be committed in thought or in act.

(emphasis added). In other words, there are things that you’re not even allowed to think. That’s the very definition of thoughtcrime.

The entry on sin has a whole entry on “Internal sins”, convering crimethink, starting with “thou shalt not covet”.

Three kinds of internal sin are usually distinguished:

  • delectatio morosa, i.e. the pleasure taken in a sinful thought or imagination even without desiring it;
  • gaudium, i.e. dwelling with complacency on sins already committed; and
  • desiderium, i.e. the desire for what is sinful.

(italics in the original).

In other words, Billy pays lip service to freedom of thought, but pimps for a religion that doesn’t hold it in very high esteem. He adds:

In other words, atheists have the right to mock religion because our Christian Founding Fathers afforded them human rights.

I may have to withdraw my charge of hypocrisy: I thought he was in favor of freedom of thought when it suited him, but I get the distinct impression from this sentence that he thinks the founding fathers made a mistake, granting freedoms to people who think the wrong way.

PS: For the benefit of anyone who, like Billy, thinks that Blasphemy Day unjustly favors Muslims, let me just say that there are no gods, not even Allah, and Muhammad was not a prophet. Buddha would have killed for a cheeseburger. Mary cheated on Joseph, and Christians have believed her spur-of-the-moment bullshit story ever since. Oh, and Chuck Darwin only stopped fucking his horse long enough to steal all of Wallace’s ideas. That should just about cover it.

5 thoughts on “BillDo Doesn’t Like Blasphemy Day”

  1. Not really on topic, but holy crap.

    The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that “available research” showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.

    This is one of those times when not saying anything in your own defense is probably a better idea.


  2. only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.

    Any idea how that compares to the general male population? (Although in any case, the official coverup is at least as scandalous as the abuse itself).


  3. I ran across an article somewhere about how humans perceive what is typical. IIRC the example was that even though only about 1% of dogs are dalmatians, people wouldn’t agree with the statement “dogs have spots”. Yet people do agree with the statement “mosquitoes carry West Nile disease”, even though only about 1% of mosquitoes do.

    I think the conclusion was that whether a given trait is perceived as typical depends not only on how common it is, but also on the consequences of guessing incorrectly. Kind of like Dick Cheney’s attitude that if there’s a 1% chance that Iran has nuclear weapons, we have to behave as though it does, because it’s too dangerous to be wrong.

    The same phenomenon might be at work with statements like “Muslims are terrorists”: Muslims want to emphasize that only a small percentage of them are violent murderers, while others feel it’s safer to treat 100% of Muslims the same way as the dangerous 0.01%.


  4. Eamon Knight: Wikipedia says the incidence of pedophilia in the general population is not known. I haven’t pursued it beyond that.

    Oh, and I forgot to add: 1.5-5%? Holy fuck!


  5. I can almost buy into the notion that for some relatively loose definition, 1.5% may be a reasonable prevailing upper bound. Intuitively, I have a very hard time with the idea that 1 in 20 men sexually abuses children (or, interpreting the sentence generously, is involved in covering up abuse by others).

    It’s always interesting when somebody is so out of touch with what is “normal” that their attempts at minimizing horrifying behavior are, in and of themselves, horrifying. It’s kind of like a wealthy executive fraudster saying something like, “Well, I really only stole an average of $80,000 from each of my victims. Nobody is going to miss that.”


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