Pope Francis on Atheism

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Before he was elected Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio spent fourteen years as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. During that time he built a strong friendship with Abraham Skorka, an Argentinian rabbi and biophysicist. Together they promoted interreligious dialogue on faith and reason, seeking to build bridges among Catholicism, Judaism, and the world at large.

Last month, Image Books released the English translation of On Heaven and Earth, originally published in Argentina in 2010. The book contains several conversations between both men where they discuss various theological and worldly issues, including God, fundamentalism, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and globalization. From these personal and accessible talks comes a first-hand view of the man who would become pope to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world in March 2013. In the excerpt below, the two men share their thoughts on modern atheism and agnosticism.



Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis):

When I speak with atheists, I will sometimes discuss social concerns, but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe. But that which is human is so rich to share and to work at that very easily we can mutually complement our richness. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; I respect him and I show myself as I am. Where there is knowledge, there begins to appear esteem, affection, and friendship. I do not have any type of reluctance, nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person; even less, if he shows me those human virtues that exalt others and do me good.

At any rate, I know more agnostic people than atheists; the first are more uncertain, the second are more convinced. We have to be coherent with the message that we receive from the Bible: every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not. For that reason alone everyone has a series of virtues, qualities, and a greatness of his own. If he has some vileness, as I do, we can share that in order to mutually help one another and overcome it.
 

Rabbi Abraham Skorka:

I agree with what you have said; the first step is respecting your fellow man. But I would add one more point of view. When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position. He who doubts has a more nuanced position. An agnostic thinks that he or she has not yet found the answer, but an atheist is 100 percent convinced that G-d does not exist. It is the same arrogance that leads some to assert that G-d definitely exists, just like the chair I am sitting on.


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  1. ” As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. “

    That is far enough for me. Does he know that his ” humility ” comes off as utter arrogance to me. How do you know that? Further more how do I not know what you know as we are both human and in possession, I think, of human faculties. ( no magic stuff allowed, pope! )

    Further on he speaks of the absolutist arrogance of some theologians. ?!?!?

    I f this pope is an improvement on the last pope then I say too little too late.

    • In reply to #1 by Neodarwinian:

      “Does he know that his ” humility ” comes off as utter arrogance to me. How do you know that?”

      Why, in, your opinion, is it arrogance for a believer to say he “knows” God exists, but not for an atheist to say he “knows” God doesn’t exist? Neither can truly “know” in absolute way. And actually the rabbi makes that point.

      Remember that Pope Francis began this answer with “but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe.” So he will only introduce the subject of God if the other person raises it first, and then only to explain his belief to them. That does sound to me more like humility than arrogance.

      • In reply to #16 by Trent:

        Remember that Pope Francis began this answer with “but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe.” So he will only introduce the subject of God if the other person raises it first, and then only to explain his belief to them. That does sound to me more like humility than arrogance.

        Please forgive me if I’m wrong here but Bergoglio’s job (at the time) was Archbishop. It is not credible for an Archbishop, or any cleric for that matter, to state that they do not propose the problem of God!! Surely his “god” is inherent in everything he says, every belief he utters…The starting point of all of his proclamations must surely be “God”? If this were not the case then surely he should precede his ramblings with “I say this as a man and not as one of God’s envoys…”

        His position – in “acting” on behalf of an unprovable, untestable belief – is arrogance personified! Not to mention pompous, conceited and smug.

        He and the rabbi then go on to redefine the terms “atheist” and “agnostic” in classical strawman style. Either they’ve read the dictionary or they haven’t. If they have, then they’re deliberately misleading people. If they haven’t then they’re ignorant.

        Al

        • In reply to #27 by alonthemed:

          It is not credible for an Archbishop, or any cleric for that matter, to state that they do not propose the problem of God!! Surely his “god” is inherent in everything he says, every belief he utters…The starting point of all of his proclamations must surely be “God”?

          Of course much that each of us says will be affected by many factors including our personality, background, beliefs and preconceptions. But Bergoglio is saying is that he doesn’t explicity start a conversation with atheists by bringing up God – the atheist would presumably take it for granted, as you do, that an archbishop will be influenced by his faith in God. But the context here is “social issues” where there could well be a lot of common ground between a believer and an atheist leaving aside questions of belief/non-belief. Would you agree with two people sharing common social values even if their motivation might be different?

          • In reply to #28 by Trent:

            Of course much that each of us says will be affected by many factors including our personality, background, beliefs and preconceptions. But Bergoglio is saying is that he doesn’t explicity start a conversation with atheists by bringing up God – the atheist would presumably take it for granted, as you do, that an archbishop will be influenced by his faith in God.

            The book is called “On Heaven and Earth”. The 2 interviewees are prominent clerics. They are talking about atheism and agnosticism. Bergoglio’s god is the starting point whichever way you look at it. He doesn’t need to “bring up god” in the same way that Hitler didn’t need to tell people he was a Nazi when he was talking about Jews and Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t need to bring up the fact that he is/was a soccer manager when he talks about football related issues.

            But the context here is “social issues” where there could well be a lot of common ground between a believer and an atheist leaving aside questions of belief/non-belief. Would you agree with two people sharing common social values even if their motivation might be different?

            I’d be more than happy to sit around a table with Bergoglio and talk about shared common values, but I know full well that my non-negotiables: freedom of speech, racial/gender/sexual orientation equality, and freedom from physical/mental abuse for children would be compromised straight away. The conversation would be brief. The conversation with a lay “believer” would of course be a different matter and I know many believers who share my values. The fact that they share these values in contradiction of their respective “church’s” moral position just goes to show how arrogant clerics really are!!

            This is the reason why priests are not in charge any more and the sooner the bearded buffoons are chased out of sharialand, the better for everyone.

            Al

            Ps. Excuses for invoking Godwin’s law!

          • In reply to #29 by alonthemed:

            In reply to #28 by Trent:

            The fact that they share these values in contradiction of their respective “church’s” moral position

            Actually that’s not true. Many of those most involved in social and charitable activity adhere fully to their church’s teachings

            the sooner the bearded buffoons are chased out of sharialand…

            But now that you’ve reduced the discussion to the level of personal abuse sadly so prevalent on this blog then any hope of rational debate must be at an end. And Bergoglio doesn’t even have a beard.

          • In reply to #36 by Trent:

            Actually that’s not true. Many of those most involved in social and charitable activity adhere fully to their church’s teachings

            I didn’t mention whether or not they were active in social and charitable circles. Furthermore it is a fact that most believers cherry-pick the bits they like from their religion.

            the sooner the bearded buffoons are chased out of sharialand…

            But now that you’ve reduced the discussion to the level of personal abuse sadly so prevalent on this blog then any hope of rational debate must be at an end. And Bergoglio doesn’t even have a beard.

            By bearded buffoons, I was drawing a comparison with Islamic clerics. My point was that in the West, we do not allow clerics to make laws any more. Why not? Because they make bad moral decisions. Secular decision making and law making are considered democratically superior to those that any church has made or might make.
            I then suggested that as soon as Islamic clerics are prevented from implementing Sharia, then the world would be a better place.

            I know the Pope doesn’t have a beard.

            You didn’t respond to any of my points.

      • In reply to #16 by Trent:

        In reply to #1 by Neodarwinian:

        “Does he know that his ” humility ” comes off as utter arrogance to me. How do you know that?”

        Why, in, your opinion, is it arrogance for a believer to say he “knows” God exists, but not for an atheist to say he “knows” God doesn’t exist? Neither can truly “know” i…

        Who said that? I didn’t and atheists I know don’t. The vanishingly small probability of god and the evil men do in the name of this imaginary entity is enough for me. Besides, read what I put in quotation marks as that is what I was referring to.

        ” As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. “

      • In reply to #16 by Trent:

        Why, in, your opinion, is it arrogance for a believer to say he “knows” God exists, but not for an atheist to say he “knows” God doesn’t exist? Neither can truly “know” in absolute way. And actually the rabbi makes that point.

        Which god are you talking about? List of deities From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        All evidenced honest knowledge is on the basis of probabilities.
        Citing “absolute knowledge”, is presenting an extension of the argument to a strawman false equivalence of “evidence” with “faith”.

        “Faith Belief” – without evidence is pretentious posturing arrogance. Evidence-based probability is knowledge!

    • In reply to #1 by Neodarwinian:

      ” As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. “

      That is far enough for me. Does he know that his ” humility ” comes off as utter arrogance to me. How do you know that? Further more how do I not know what you k…

      I wish I’d stopped there too…

    • In reply to Rabbi Skorkora:

      I would remind the atheist that the perfection of the natural world is sending us a message.

      “Perfection?” Even before the existence of humans, the earth was an often ugly, smelly, brutal world of pain and suffering for all creatures that inhabited the land, sea and sky. After humans came into existence, that’s what it has mostly been. Methinks the rabbi is a numbskull.

        • In reply to #6 by This Is Not A Meme:

          In reply to #4 by quarecuss:

          In reply to #3 by Fouad Boussetta:

          He’s much more pleasant than his predecessor though!

          Ratzinger Lite?

          Hey, at least he’s Italian, like Joe Pesci.

          No, he’s Argentinian-Italian like General Galtieri, cut from the same fascist cloth.

          • In reply to #55 by quarecuss:

            No, he’s Argentinian-Italian like General Galtieri, cut from the same fascist cloth…

            What does that mean? If you’re calling him a fascist then you really need to justify the accusation.

  2. In sum:

    Blah blah blah, appeal to authority, blah blah, appeal to tradition, blah, blah, blah, special pleading, blah, blah, no true theologian, blah blah, red herring, blah, blah, blah, appeal to personal credulity, blah.

    Did I miss anything?

  3. “At any rate, I know more agnostic people than atheists; “

    Doesn’t Agnosticism address whether or not I have knowledge about the existence of god/gods and Atheism address the question of belief? That I don’t believe in god/gods because I’m not convinced? And the misguiding use of the word KNOW in ” I know this and I know that”… I get always confused, it’s like they have their own dictionary.

  4. Screw this article- read the one linked under it about Hitch. There’s the headline. Maybe it was linked here before but I can’t believe I missed it if so. Just wish he’d written this while Hitch was around to reply.

  5. Talk about arrogant! How can you have such a presumptuous and arrogant attitude toward someone and claim to respect him?

    When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position. He who doubts has a more nuanced position. An agnostic thinks that he or she has not yet found the answer, but an atheist is 100 percent convinced that G-d does not exist. It is the same arrogance that leads some to assert that G-d definitely exists, just like the chair I am sitting on.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but here’s my understanding:

    • The pope and rabbi believe god exists; they have faith in their belief. They are not arrogant.
    • The atheist is arrogant because he is 100% sure, i.e, he believes (has faith) in his position.
    • The agnostic is more nuanced because he thinks he has not yet found the answer. This statement is presumptuous in ascribing the same state of mind to all agnostics. Further, it is an intentional misrepresentation (lie) and they know it because as theologians they damn well know the correct definition of agnosticism.
    • Some of those who assert that god definitely exists, just like the chair he’s sitting on – Exactly what does this mean? Is he referring to those who truly believe that god exists and is real? As opposed to those who believe that god exists but is not real? Is this saying that the folks they duped in the past are now arrogant because they believe what they were told? I thought that not being 100% sure made you an agnostic. I’ll admit I’m out of my depth at this point.
    • So a special position is carved out for a select group of theists who believe in a god that is not ‘real’ or which they are not 100% sure exists. Only this select group of believers is not arrogant. All the others are?
    • Maybe the key thing is what ‘real’ means. Not real could mean: imaginary, immaterial, abstract. At the same time this god can intercede in the real – material – world through miracles, cures, talking bushes and so on. Real and not real. Well of course, this is god and god is beyond our capacity to understand or apprehend.

    They have a Quantum Theory of god. It has a unique twist. Obviously god is in a superposition of states but when you try to take a measurement, instead of getting “there he is” you get “there he isn’t”. In this theory, measurement projects god into a superposition of all other states except the one you’re measuring. Or maybe you get “there he is” and “there he isn’t”? This is too hard for me. I’m not reading any more of it.

    Someone please help me figure this out and save me from arrogance.

    • In reply to #12 by whiteraven:

      Talk about arrogant! How can you have such a presumptuous and arrogant attitude toward someone and claim to respect him?

      When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position. He who doubts has a more nuanced position. An agnostic thinks that he or she has not ye…

      I think you’ll find just about everyone who claims to be atheist will quite happily admit they cannot know for absolute certain. Most atheists have a degree of agnosticism about them, even if it is only abou 0.01%. I can only speak for myself, but: I cannot prove that unicorns, dragons and fairies don’t exist, but I have seen no evidence to suggest they DO, so it is rational to live my life under the assumption that they don’t. I cannot prove God doesn’t exist, but as there is no evidence to suggest he/she/it/they does, it is rational to live my life under the assumption he/she/it/they don’t.

      • In reply to #22 by AsylumWarden:

        In reply to #12 by whiteraven:

        Talk about arrogant! How can you have such a presumptuous and arrogant attitude toward someone and claim to respect him?

        When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position. He who doubts has a more nuanced position. An agnostic…

        Clarification: The second paragraph of my post, “When a person says,….”, is a quote from the story, not a statement of my opinion. Same goes for “The atheist is arrogant because…” and “The agnostic is more nuanced…” in the following one.

    • In reply to #12 by whiteraven:

      Talk about arrogant! How can you have such a presumptuous and arrogant attitude toward someone and claim to respect him?

      When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position. He who doubts has a more nuanced position. An agnostic thinks that he or she has not ye…

      Not to mention that the guy got the definition of “atheist” wrong. The vast majority of atheists do not feel 100% that god does not exist. They simply are not persuaded that one does, or is likely to. A-theist; “without theism”. Not “with 100% anti-theistic confidence”.

  6. The arrogant waffle of Bergoglio and Skorka is staggering! ‘We are made to subdue nature; that is what God commands,’ ‘every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not’, says Bergoglio. Just read the self-righteous, know-all twaddle by Brandon Vogt in the comments at the source site.It must be wonderful to know everything. Personally I enjoy understanding new discoveries; so lots more illumination to come.

  7. And do not be deceived. He may look like a clown, even without greasepaint, but look at the eyes in isolation and see the ruthless rigid singleminded cold hard theocratic manacled mind. Ratzinger was and looked like a nasty piece of work. This one looks like a harmless old man until you scrutinise him more closely.

    • In reply to #15 by Pi:

      And do not be deceived. He may look like a clown, even without greasepaint, but look at the eyes in isolation and see the ruthless rigid singleminded cold hard theocratic manacled mind. Ratzinger was and looked like a nasty piece of work. This one looks like a harmless old man until you scrutinise him…

      I think that once we start judging people’s moral state from their facial appearance we are into very dangerous territory indeed. Or is there some rational, evidence-based, scientific data to back up the claims that you make about these two individuals? I understood that the “pseudoscience” of physiognomy had been totally discredited.

      • In reply to #17 by Trent:

        In reply to #15 by Pi:

        And do not be deceived. He may look like a clown, even without greasepaint, but look at the eyes in isolation and see the ruthless rigid singleminded cold hard theocratic manacled mind. Ratzinger was and looked like a nasty piece of work. This one looks like a harmless old ma…

        Is there validity to making inferences from facial expressions? This article Facial expression analysis is a decent place to start. It’s clear to me that the pope’s smiling expression is fake. There is a smiling mouth but not a smiling face; the eyes are not smiling and they don’t strike me as benign. Inconsistent. Fake. Maybe that’s why Trent described it as clown-like. (Try this with a photo of Vlad. Putin. When G. Bush said he looked into his eyes and saw his soul, Bush proved he couldn’t tell the antichrist from a bowl of oatmeal.)

        Another interesting thing is to isolate the right or left side of the face. Our features are not perfectly symmetric, but the difference in affect between the two sides can be striking. Right brain controls left side and vice versa. Is it unreasonable that each side reveals or conceals different things?

        Isolating features makes sense because they are controlled by different muscle groups. An expression results from coordinating multiple muscle groups. Some of the components of an expression are involuntary. One example is a genuinely happy smile in which the eyes form “crows feet”. It’s a hard to resist expression. Apparently, conscious control of the requisite muscles (for the crows feet) is not a common ability. There was a film about the 1992 presidential campaigns in which there were segments I particularly recall of G.H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Bob Kerry waiting to go live. Bush was “exercising” his face, Clinton and Kerry went instantly from blank, dead expressions to lively, expressive faces. It was amazing to see.

  8. I tell them why I believe

    Let’s hear your cosmological, ontological & teleological arguments then, you precious.

    I know that these riches are a gift from God

    No; you just think it.

    I respect him… Where there is knowledge, there begins to appear esteem, affection, and friendship

    So Bergoglio’s respect for atheists doesn’t include esteem, affection or friendship? What does it include – the willingness not to injure them?

    nor would I say that his life is condemned

    Is Bergoglio about to change Catholic doctrine on who goes to Hell?

    I know more agnostic people than atheists; the first are more uncertain, the second are more convinced.

    Agnosticism isn’t an intermediate position between theism and atheism; it answers a different question. Agnostic atheists exist – well, all 4 combinations do. Atheists are in practice far less convinced than are most theists.

    every man is the image of God

    Apparently the differences in men’s appearances don’t refute this claim, but women are just too different. Also, as God is meant to be perfect, even certain metaphorical readings of this sexist comment are untenable.

    When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position. He who doubts has a more nuanced position. An agnostic thinks that he or she has not yet found the answer, but an atheist is 100 percent convinced that G-d does not exist. It is the same arrogance that leads some to assert that G-d definitely exists, just like the chair I am sitting on.

    Apart from repeating the definitional errors above and straw-manning real people, note that this argument divides theists into the certain and the uncertain ones, as the rabbi wouldn’t call himself agnostic. There is a self-serving double standard here.

    we do not know for certain that He exists

    The rabbi “agrees” with a cardinal who says believers know God exists. Is it a non-certain kind of knowledge? This further shows how much is being assumed when it is said atheists are certain; even their knowing things shouldn’t ensure that, given the definition of knowledge just conceded.

    Even though I personally believe that G-d exists, it is arrogant to say that He exists as if it were just another certainty in life. I would not casually affirm His existence because I need to live the same humility that I demand of the atheist. The right thing to do would be to point out—as Maimonides did in his thirteen principals of faith—that “I believe with complete faith that G-d is the creator.”

    Step 1: tell a set of inconsistent lies to pretend atheists don’t live up to a standard. Step 2: unveil that standard, then claim to live up to it. Step 3: make that claim harder to believe by believing something with complete faith, as if that’s any better than belief with certainty. They both have “as much as possible” words in their descriptions (complete vs certain).

    we can say what G-d is not, but we can never be sure of what G-d is.

    I’ll go first: God is not real. Oh, wait, existence isn’t a predicate, is it? I’ll admit that if you thereby concede all ontological arguments are wrong. Why do you believe, then? Downplaying the certainty, extent etc. of their beliefs doesn’t excuse theists from explaining why they believe what they do – something neither of them does herein.

    We can talk about His qualities and attributes, but in no way can we describe His form.

    What’s the difference between those, and why does only the last count as describing what God is? There are only predicates.

    the perfection of the natural world is sending us a message. We can gain an understanding of how it works, but not its essence.

    The only essence the natural world has is how it works. (Yes, I know what the definition of essence is; I read Descartes too.) So, you fall for the argument from design, do you? With complete faith but not arrogance or certainty, of course. Or, for that matter, any actual examples (probably because they get refuted immediately when they’re brought up).

    One feels that God is there, one has the certainty

    Now Bergoglio admits there is certainty. Perhaps now the Rabbi agrees they disagree, but I bet he won’t say it.

    We are made to subdue nature; that is what God commands.

    Perhaps this doctrine is more pernicious than all the others put together. Just look at the state of our climate.

    We cannot, however, subdue our creator. As a result, in the experience of God there is always an unanswered question, an opportunity to be submerged in faith.

    That doesn’t make any sense. Why would lacking control over X leave a question about X answered (what question is it?), and why in turn would that question, or that lack of control, provide an opportunity to believe something without evidence (and what’s so good about doing that?)

    you said one thing, which in part, is certain: we can say what God is not, we can speak of His attributes, but we cannot say what He is.

    If Bergoglio is apophatic, then he’s not allowed to condemn specific practices as condemned by God any more.

    The mission of theology is to reflect and explain religious facts, and among them, God.

    But only apophatically? If science was that abysmal at explaining the things it studies, maybe religions’ criticisms of it would have a point.

    I would also classify as arrogant those theologies that not only attempted to define with certainty and exactness God’s attributes, but also had the pretense of saying who He was.

    Such as Catholicism? Or Christianity in general. Or Abrahamic religions in general. Or Judaism in particular.

    we seek Him to find Him and because we find Him, we seek Him. It is a very Augustinian game.

    Why bother playing it?

    I believe with complete faith that G-d exists. As opposed to the atheist who is sure that He does not exist and does not entertain any doubts, I implicitly reveal a margin of uncertainty by using the word “faith.”

    Does this guy even own a dictionary? Faith doesn’t mean not being certain; it means believing things without anything to back it up. If you want to make claims about who is and who isn’t certain, that translates to claims about who’s where on the Dawkins scale, and Dawkins’s statements about himself contradict this article’s general characterisation of atheists. Are we meant to believe Dawkins was lying? Where are Bergoglio & Skorka? I see no evidence they’re not 1s.

    we need the idea of G-d to temper our existential angst

    Speak for yourself.

    there is some room for doubt in mathematical theories as well

    This guy chooses the most annoying statements to make without substantiation. He could have at least given us a reference to Lakatos or something.

    when we think about G-d we have to do so with special terminology. Everyday logic does not apply.

    What is “everyday” logic? Does he mean classical logic? What are the axioms and rules of inferences for the logic describing God? OR can apophatic theology only rule out some candidate answers? If so, God doesn’t make sense.

    Maimonides put forth that idea long ago.

    In other words, religion doesn’t make progress. Science doesn’t quote people from that long ago. It quotes experiments we can do now.

    G-d is above and beyond any logic and its paradoxes.

    No he’s not. Either he can create the stone or he can’t, & each answer has its own implications. Nothing can circumvent that fact. Statements such as the one quoted above are just a long way to say, “No matter what points you make, I win this debate – because I say so, that’s why!”

    Maimonides explains that He knows everything in its complete form.

    Which would include God, which means God’s form is knowable, which means that apophatic theologians not knowing his form reflects badly on them (and also on God for not sharing this information with them, during revelation or when they pray).

    if we had the same understanding that G-d has, we would be Gods ourselves.

    No; a god also has special powers, immortality etc.

    • We are made to subdue nature; that is what God commands.
      

      “Perhaps this doctrine is more pernicious than all the others put together. Just look at the state of our climate.”

      Yes, and this was the same man who in his earliest babblings as pope, declared that the environment was one of his priorities. This dominion over nature meme uncovers his superficial grasp of what that really means.

    • In reply to #18 by Jos Gibbons:

      I tell them why I believe

      Let’s hear your cosmological, ontological & teleological arguments then, you precious.

      I know that these riches are a gift from God

      No; you just think it.

      I respect him… Where there is knowledge, there begins to appear esteem, affection, and friendship

      So Bergoglio’s r…

      Jos, that was masterful.

  9. “As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that.”

    “When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position.”

    As others have already said on here, the blind arrogance and condescension of these ‘people’ is outrageous…

  10. In reply to #15 by Pi:

    And do not be deceived. He may look like a clown, even without greasepaint, but look at the eyes in isolation and see the ruthless rigid singleminded cold hard theocratic manacled mind. Ratzinger was and looked like a nasty piece of work. This one looks like a harmless old man until you scrutinise him more closely.

    Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 4:

    There’s no art/
    To find the mind’s construction in the face.
    He was a gentleman on whom I built/ An absolute trust.

    • In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

      Precisely my thought, reading #15.

      In reply to #15 by Pi:

      And do not be deceived. He may look like a clown, even without greasepaint, but look at the eyes in isolation and see the ruthless rigid singleminded cold hard theocratic manacled mind. Ratzinger was and looked like a nasty piece of work. This one looks like a harmless old ma…

      Thanks for the reference, I ‘knew’ this at one point but couldn’t retrieve its source this morning, “There’s no art/ To find the mind’s construction in the face.”

      and Jos, thanks for another precise and elegant dissection.

      Geoff

  11. god exist. i know that. atheists don’t know that. atheists assert god doesn’t exist. that’s arrogant. agnostics are ok because they haven’t made their mind up so they’re less threatening (bit like children). yay us.

    couldn’t be arsed to read any more. is that it? or did they get into a discussion about wheat-based snacks being converted to human flesh or talking shrubs? wondering if they “knew” these things happened, or if they were agnostic about it or if they “knew” the other was wrong or if they chose to avoid the whole embarrasing subject of the omni-shite they arrogantly assert as facts

  12. I don’t think he’s arrogant, I think he’s patronizing.

    I think there’s a lot of arrogance being displayed on this thread. Why attack the already afflicted? He’s got enough problems as it is, along with 1.2 billion others; are there more Muslims than Catholics? And if so does that mean that the greater number trump the lesser?

    In my book it simply means that there are more deluded individuals in one faith than the other.

    At one time virtually everyone on the planet thought the galaxy was geocentric, and every one of them thought wrongly, so what’s the difference here?

    He’ll never change his way of thinking no matter what happens. On the other hand, he may have done so but can’t possibly let on!

    • In reply to #25 by Stafford Gordon:

      I think there’s a lot of arrogance being displayed on this thread. Why attack the already afflicted? He’s got enough problems as it is, along with 1.2 billion others;

      When people with the power of the Pope dump such rubbish into the public sphere it is not arrogant to rebut it and set the record straight, it is fulfilling a civic duty. You, on the other hand, are just telling people to shut up. That suggests you would be happy to see what the Pope is saying hold sway. I rebel against your attitude.

  13. I notice that they use the word god in the singular, not gods. The ancient Egyptians alone had two thousand gods, and the total for the world is certainly many thousands. I wonder what they have to say about people who don’t believe in these other gods – does the Rabbi consider them to be arrogant also?

  14. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that.

    It always irritates me when religionists use ‘know’ and ‘knowledge’ to refer to a felt conviction rather than to a reasoned, evidence-based finding. This is how Bergoglio uses ‘know’ in this dialogue. How does he “know that these riches (of human life) are a gift from God”? Actually, he knows nothing of the sort. He merely has a heartfelt conviction of it; he believes it – for no reason other than that he was taught to believe it by the faith-community to which he has always belonged and become deeply attached. To know something requires more than one’s own conviction about it; to know something requires some justification, some evidence, some reasoning that supports a judgement in its favor. Bergoglio’s use of ‘know’ is the bigot’s use of the word – he needs no reasons for it other than his own sense of conviction.

  15. This is very positive, boding quite well for humanity It will be fascinating to watch the church evolve away from insistence that belief is required for salvation or even to be a good person. St. Paul will be seen as an early philosopher who was mistaken in some of his ideas, no different than Socrates, Descartes, Hume, Kant or any other philosopher.

    It will become widely understood that the bible was never the word of God and that it needs reinterpretation. the Muslims will follow suit, no longer having to maintain, in self-deference against crusader-type thinking, that the Quran is the word of God and that will also be re-interpreted. Scriptural characters such as Moses, Jesus and Mohammed will be seen as what they were, men, who tried to help their people, who had no special revelation, who made mistakes sometimes, who spoke some truths and some other things that need improvement.

    Atheists understand man is not going to discard the notion of God anytime soon, if ever, but at the same time, atheists and theists will be working hand in hand in working out rational laws in a world of peace. Theists will stop condemning other theists and atheists. Understandings of God will evolve towards agreement with the evidence of science and nature. We are evolving, we are becoming beautiful.

    We have a long road to travel but the path is becoming clear. Today there are irrational-thought-bound zealots who murder in the name of a mythical creator of hell, and it does seem to be getting a little worse before it gets better, but we can see that they are trapped by their own threats of violence against each other if any one of them should doubt whatever some irrational-thought-bound cleric is interpreting at any given time.

    We can free them by creating safe states in their region where doubters can come to live and be educated, a bit like a witness protection program for people coerced by violence to honor a mythical creator of hell. We can start in Afghanistan, there is nothing to prevent the free world from crating a fortified city there, a city of schools, where everyone is unarmed, where the woman and children can live in safety and where the men can safely lay down their arms and enter into the exquisite world of rational thinking, studying nature and science. They are all starving for books of science, to learn to think like scientists, to have access to the wealth of human knowledge.

  16. We as atheists fall for a lot of the same follies, it serves us to become better thinking atheists. I see many comments here that downright miss entire clauses in what is being said once they chrry pick somthing that they disagree in what is said. For example whiteraven claims and complains that they called us arrogant for claiming to know that there is no god, but the rabbi clearly says: It is the same arrogance that leads some to assert that G-d definitely exists, just like the chair I am sitting on.
    Having said that, the pope and the rabbi make a false equivalency in how the arrogance affects who we all are. We don’t have a figure head with power over millions of people,

  17. I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that.

    What an arrogant twit! He means believe not know.

    This is a conversation of one con man to another intended to be overhead.

  18. ´,Äs I am a believer´is actually far enough for me ……I find it quite disturbing that people like the subject of this article can believe in proven non eistent entities and inherently disgusting and quite inhumane practises against other human beings should ever be allowed to rise to such positions of power. Throughout history his kind and other religious leaders have been responsible for so much human suffering I really do not feel that they have a place in society which wishes to live in peace , and I do not understand how they have the temerity to tell the rest of us how we should lead our lives.

  19. I’m okay with being a 7 on the Rick-ter scale. As long as I’m content in my own mind that the supernatural deity idea was an invention from whole cloth by the guy having a dump in the trap next to me…even if that was 15,000 years ago…longer if ya like….I have no qualms breaching the intellectual barrier of saying “I know for sure”, that’s as sure as anyone can be…like the angles of a triangle and all that jazz. No one here should have any problem dismissing the existence of the great deity, “rhtgtmghyn”, especially when I tell you I just made it up. Now can someone pass me some toilet paper please, the roll in here is empty?

    So silly little old men wearing silly garb and pretending to be all philosophical about a lot of made up bollocks doesn’t impress me all that much.

  20. was the conversation translated by babelfish? That’s the only reason I can think of for such sloppy use of the English vocabulary. At least the word truth wasn’t uttered, grrr, I hate it when the credulous misuse that one.

    • In reply to #48 by jjbircham:

      was the conversation translated by babelfish? That’s the only reason I can think of for such sloppy use of the English vocabulary. At least the word truth wasn’t uttered, grrr, I hate it when the credulous misuse that one.

      You may have noticed in earlier posts, that I sometimes use the word theistic “TRRRrooooff”, so as to avoid any confusion with mathematics, logic, or scientific facts!

  21. The Rabbi:

    When a person says, “I am an atheist,” I believe he or she is taking an arrogant position. He who doubts has a more nuanced position. An agnostic thinks that he or she has not yet found the answer, but an atheist is 100 percent convinced that G-d does not exist. It is the same arrogance that leads some to assert that G-d definitely exists, just like the chair I am sitting on.

    As someone who is convinced that there is no God or gods, perhaps the Rabbi could explain in what way I am being arrogant ? Why should I give any credence to a view which has no basis in reality ? No doubt the good Rabbi would run a bloody mile before offering up any evidence for his god !

    Stand and deliver ! Or be forever laughed at !

  22. There is nothing arrogant about saying that you only believe in things supported by empirical evidence. What is truly arrogant is believing in an imaginary being based on hearsay and still thinking you are right and others are wrong. If there was any possibility of a being that could bring the whole universe into existence simply by saying (to himself?) “Let it be”, it would most certainly be a completely unfathomable and unknowable being. To further claim that this being thinks you are somehow special in the grand scheme of the entire universe, or to claim to know the mind and desires (desire is a human emotion) of this being, is the height of arrogance. Not surprisingly, the thoughts and desires of this imaginary being are exactly the same as those of the believer. Now that’s arrogance defined.

  23. I actually like this dialogue. It shows an openness to civilised discussion and I respect it as a step in the right direction (albeit a very small one). However I still can’t respect any institution that denies equality between genders and sexualities, until there is movement with regard to those issues I have no respect for the Pope or the Rabbi.

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