Questionable Motives

January 19, 2010

Who is the winner of 2009’s highly coveted Bad Faith award?

Filed under: Faith,Religion — tildeb @ 1:34 pm

It’s second time lucky for God’s representative on Earth – Pope Benedict was up for the award in 2007, but failed to make the grade in the face of strong competition, and didn’t even make the 2008 shortlist. No such problems in 2009 – charging out of the blocks in March by stating that AIDS “is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, and that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems”. More than 2,000 people voted for His Holiness, ensuring some brand-new silverware will adorn the Sistine Chapel mantelpiece this year. And on that note, we’d like to take this opportunity to extend a formal invitation to the Pontiff to come and collect his award from our offices when he visits Britain later this year.

Read the top ten list here from the New Humanist.



  1. I have a theory…

    As you probably already know, studies have shown a correlation between religiosity and social dysfunction, i.e., that atheist/agnostic countries such as Sweden typically have less social dysfunction that the more religious countries such as… Iraq, for example. One could either take this to mean that religion promotes an environment that is socially dysfunctional… or that that people who live in societies where there is already dysfunction, for whatever reason, use religion to as an opiate.

    Now MY theory goes (well, a hunch really) that religion, and religious figures, know that suffering and dysfunction, bring people to church because they are looking for solace. Hence proclamations such as this made by the Pope are designed to actually promote human suffering and disease, because in the minds of the religious figures it “brings them closer to God” (i.e. keeps churches in business).

    Am I crazy or what? lol

    Comment by thebooreport — January 19, 2010 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  2. I think that the comfort factor is a huge attraction. But I don’t think religious leaders intentionally try to create misery and suffering, although I do think that they intentionally excuse and extend it.

    Our brains come ready, willing, and able to assign agency to our world. We see agency if we look for agency and make up the weirdest supernatural critters to keep that sense of agency alive. It’s easier for us to understand the motives of some agency from our emotional perspective than it is to learn anew – to think in an entirely different, structured, and disciplined way – because then we think we can have common ground with another agency and can therefore affect the emotional state of that agency by our actions.

    If we sacrifice the virgin to Muk Muk, then Muk Muk of the Volcano will not get angry and blow his stack. If we dance just right, then the gods will be pleased and allow the rain to fall. That kind of stuff. But learning anew about tectonic shifts and continental drift, the water cycle and rain shadows, these are more difficult to understand and at the end of that inquiry we are left with knowing that our personal actions are up against impersonal, indifferent, and uncaring physical forces. And a world that doesn’t love us is not very comforting. The sacrificing of a virgin is much more direct and allows us to come together as a community and comfort each other with the shared suffering our god supposedly demands. The suffering is real, so perhaps the agency we attribute to its cause must also be real. In addition, that such actions of sacrifice for the common good are held in high moral esteem by our species allows people like Mother Teresa to win great acclaim for her love of suffering she believed was really a gift from god, a belief that to this day successfully deflects legitimate criticism away from addressing the root causes of the suffering of those to whom she administered. As you quite rightly point out, making sense of suffering (even through a convoluted and often incoherent belief set in supernatural agency) is a big draw for religions, but the same belief is also a hindrance from first accepting the natural causes and then addressing the natural solutions that can alleviate it. For non believers, the way religions run interference to favour their beliefs at the expense of causing, maintaining, and promoting additional suffering is very frustrating.

    I think an important question might be: Is religious belief in supernatural agency a symptom or cause of cognitive dysfunction that leads to and extends unnecessary human suffering? And I think the answer to that question is an unequivocal Yes, although that suffering is often held in high moral esteem.

    Now who is crazier?

    Comment by tildeb — January 19, 2010 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  3. […] on this Pope’s meddling in secular law and public policy before (see here, here, and here). And I use the word ‘meddling’ quite on purpose to counter the lie commonly put forth […]

    Pingback by Why is it a criminal act to support Britain’s Equality bill? « Questionable Motives — February 2, 2010 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

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