Categorized | Personal, Religion, Society

O’Rly? Ordonez: New Atheism is Anti-family

 

Yo Red! How about having this as the official Filipino Freethinker uniform?

 

A couple of months ago, I wrote a rebuttal article to Minyong Ordoñez, a certain fellow who wrote a comment to the Philippine Daily Inquirer likening the Reproductive Health Bill to throwing babies into trash bins.

Now while you’re still wrapping your head around how one eventually leads to the other (it doesn’t), Ordonez has written another post for the PDI and Manila Times.

This latest post discussed the recent speech of Archbishop Socrates Villegas regarding the need for universities to produce saints and his admonition that Catholics today revere angels before priests.

But while the main body of Ordonez’s commentary alone makes for a target-rich environment, it’s this particular rocket that grabbed my attention:

Ordonez’s portrayal of New Atheism, as he sources the Eternal Word Television Network:

In a recent telecast of EWTN, a concept called “The New Atheism” was discussed as the prevalent lifestyle among the student population in American universities. New atheism is not a vociferous and fiery activism like the isms of the rowdy 1960s and 1970s. Instead it is an accepted fact, a quiet mindset that one is free to do anything or live a life free from moral constraint, as long as one is comfortable with his opinion and respectful of others.

Like most deviations from norms and values which are religion inspired, new atheism devalues and promotes the eventual collapse of the family. When families break up, social diseases spread widely across the urban landscape: teen suicide, teen prostitution, drug addiction, alcoholism, melancholia, kleptomania, vagrancy, and street crimes. Deterioration of civil society shows in police blotters, city jails, psychiatric couches, morgues and cemeteries.

Where to begin? For starters, Mr. Ordonez, a quick definition of New Atheism.

New Atheism, at least according to my understanding (and copious amounts of Google searches), is the media brand for a recent string of high profile authors and bloggers that includes Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, Victor J. Stenger, Christopher Hitchens, and PZ Myers.

The New Atheism movement is defined by its scientific approach to tackling the matter of religion, especially in Dawkins’ case—particularly, that God, like any other hypothesis, can be proven or disproven given sufficient study and research.

And if you happen to follow Myers on his Pharyngula blog, it’s also a very vocal and aggressive movement, actively calling out the various supernatural claims and doctrines that have long been held by the religious, moreso if they promote prejudice and needless discrimination against our fellow human being.

New Atheism is comprised of people who have had enough of the falsehood and harm that have been inflicted on people in the name of faith. They have decided to speak up, and directly confront the assertions made by religious organizations, using hard facts to prove them wrong.

Now that we’ve got a basic sense of New Atheism, we’ll move on to the main event:

In a recent telecast of EWTN, a concept called “The New Atheism” was discussed as the prevalent lifestyle among the student population in American universities. New atheism is not a vociferous and fiery activism like the isms of the rowdy 1960s and 1970s. Instead it is an accepted fact, a quiet mindset that one is free to do anything or live a life free from moral constraint, as long as one is comfortable with his opinion and respectful of others.

And here Ordonez gets New Atheism wrong right off the bat.

New Atheism is not about doing what one wants free of moral constraints. It is simply about being vocal about one’s lack of belief in a god. It is non sequitur to assume that since one does not have a deity to worship, one is suddenly devoid of all moral constraints.

“Atheism = No Morals” is a common fallacy consistently drawn up by apologists like Ordonez and his ilk.  This is based on their assumption that because atheists don’t believe in a god, the theist’s supreme source of morality, atheists are not moral.

I can’t speak for all atheists (I’m a Deist myself), but from what I have seen, the atheist community does have a multitude of personal reasons and motivations for having their own moral compasses. The more astute ones refer to secular humanism as their guide.  Secular humanism is an ideology that espouses reason, ethics, and the search for human fulfillment as its primary goals.  The Humanist Manifesto does a good job of summing up this mindset.

Atheists are not necessarily devoid of morals. Given their lack of belief in a god (or gods), the atheists I have met bear more culpability for their own actions, not relegating it to the tired scapegoat of “[Insert Deity’s Name Here] made me do it!

But to humor Ordonez, yes, atheists do not adhere to the Catholic faith—at least, his idea of what it means to be Catholic – idea of what is “moral”, and I think that’s a good thing, as we pursue Ordonez’s next statement:

Like most deviations from norms and values which are religion inspired, new atheism devalues and promotes the eventual collapse of the family.

And once again, I’m still wondering where Ordonez found his data to make this assertion (If you do find it, send us a copy).

If there is anything inherently “family breaking” about being an atheist, it’s having to live in a traditional religious family that still adheres to the sort of cooked up boogeymen that people like Ordonez fabricate.

The sort of communities that will not hesitate to ostracize family members not because they’re criminals, but simply for believing in one god less. It’s a dilemma that the atheist community shares with the LGBT community (whom we are close allies with btw).

What we can learn after peering closer into Ordonez’s assertion, however, is that most atheists on the net are against the idea of having to break up families, unless this really is the only way to mend hostilities between member with different beliefs. One classic example being Richard Wade over at the Friendly Atheist Blog.

Richard has a regular series called “Ask Richard,” where he answers letters regarding people whose non-belief have put them under extensive friction with their religious loved ones. Some of these letters are simply seeking advise on whether it’s worth it for atheist couples to send their kids to a religious school.

The more serious cases involve families whose ties have been broken because a sibling, spouse, child, or parent has expressed their atheism at one point.

While Richard encourages the letter’s writers to stay honest with their non-belief, he consistently and painstakingly advises them to avoid confrontation if possible, always encouraging them to resolve the matters diplomatically and tactfully so as not to disrupt the family’s bond, while at the same time advising them to look for support from fellow atheists within their area.

If there is anything anti-family in the “Ask Richard” segments, it’s in the form of uncompromising fathers, mothers, siblings, and spouses whose dogma pushes them to drive away a loved one just because of a difference in personal belief.

And speaking of anti-family, Ordonez would do well to look back at his own church. The RCC has been rife with controversy over the past few years, owing greatly to bigotry against LGBT community. Pope Ratzinger himself has been very vocal about his opposition to the LGBT community. Last January, Ratzinger declared that homosexuality was a threat to creation.

And two years ago, the RCC was also vocal in its support of Proposition 8, which would criminalize same-sex marriages in the region of California. Schadenfreude to them though, given Judge Vaughn Walker has recently deemed Prop 8 as unconstitutional.

And one didn’t have to be a homosexual to suffer their dogma either, as one unfortunate schoolgirl found as she was expelled from her school. The student’s crime? Her parents were lesbian. Sins of the father (or is it mothers) indeed.

If the church booting out hapless women from is institutions sounds like familiar territory for the Philippines, then it probably is, if you happen to have followed the passing of the Magna Carta for Women last year.

Among its tenets, the Magna Carta sought to remove discrimination against working women, namely using pregnancy as grounds for expulsion and job termination. It was a move that was opposed by the CBCP, which invoked its right to teach its own religious morals to its students.

Because as we all know, nothing teaches a woman the Catholic virtues of love and compassion better than kicking them out into the pavement, with no steady income or education, with a child on the way. And despite this, Ordonez insists that it’s New Atheism that’s responsible for breaking up families?

When families break up, social diseases spread widely across the urban landscape: teen suicide, teen prostitution, drug addiction, alcoholism, melancholia, kleptomania, vagrancy, and street crimes. Deterioration of civil society shows in police blotters, city jails, psychiatric couches, morgues and cemeteries.

And yet another claim that seems to be heavy on rhetoric, but sorely lacking in proof. Evidence to the contrary, on the other hand, is quite plentiful, and I won’t even have to explain them – you can read snippets from the news reports themselves:
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Teen Suicide and Melancholia

Two out of three Americans believe gay people commit suicide at least partly because of messages coming out of churches and other places of worship, a survey released Thursday found.

More than four out of 10 Americans say the message coming out of churches about gay people is negative, and about the same number say those messages contribute “a lot” to negative perceptions of gay and lesbian people.

Catholics were the most critical of their own churches’ messages on homosexuality, while white evangelical Christians gave their churches the highest grades, the survey found.

The Public Religion Research Institute asked 1,017 Americans their views on religion and homosexuality between October 14 and 17, in the wake of a highly publicized rash of suicides by gay people.

Gay rights campaigner Dan Savage said the idea that churches send out an anti-gay message “totally jibes with my experience and that of millions of other gay and lesbian people.”

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Teen Prostitution

THE Roman Catholic Church has secretly paid thousands of pounds in “hush money” to dozens of Britons who were sexually abused by priests.

The disclosure will come as a further embarrassment to the Catholic Church in England and Wales and to its spiritual leader, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster, who has been accused of turning a blind eye to paedophile priests when he was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton.

One of them, Father Michael Hill, was jailed in 1997 for a string of sex offences and will be sentenced tomorrow after admitting further charges of indecent assault on three boys. Several of the compensation payments — which were made on condition that the victims did not talk about them — went to people abused by Hill and Cardinal Murphy- O’Connor is said to have been aware of them.

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Vagrancy and Street Crime

PORTLAND – A social service agency’s support for same-sex marriage has cost it local and national funding from the Catholic Church’s anti-poverty program.

Preble Street’s Homeless Voices for Justice program has lost $17,400 this year and will lose $33,000 that it expected for its next fiscal year.

Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Washington-based Catholic Campaign for Human Development say that Preble Street violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine’s “No on 1” campaign last fall.

No on 1 opposed a ballot proposal to overturn the new state law legalizing gay marriage. Voters approved Question 1 on Nov. 3.

Homeless Voices for Justice, a statewide advocacy group, is led by people who have been homeless. It works on issues that affect the homeless, such as supporting affordable housing and preventing violence against the homeless.

Portland-based Preble Street, which runs a dozen programs to provide housing and other services for the poor and the homeless, provides staff support for Homeless Voices for Justice.

Catholics for Marriage Equality has begun an effort to replace the lost funding by raising $17,400 for Homeless Voices for Justice. Anne Underwood, a co-founder of the group that advocates for same-sex marriage, said Bishop Richard Malone is punishing the homeless because of politics.

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These are just among the many examples of the sort of damage the RCC has done in the name of trying to enforce its teachings.

To any Catholic who happens to be reading this: You are most probably honest, decent folks who truly believe in doing good for your fellow men, which makes me wonder how you can honestly stomach having to follow the directions and morals of a group that would willingly forsake a human being’s dignity and rights just to protect its status quo and reputation.

And with that, I’ll be leaving you guys to take the time to read through the links I’ve posted over this unexpectedly long piece. Red has convinced me to send a copy of this link to the PDI as a rebuttal letter to Ordonez, so just stay posted in case I have any updates.

Now I’m off to bag me some Deathclaws in the Mojave Wasteland…

 
DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.

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