Monday, May 23, 2011

Catholics make stuff up...

Jerry Coyne gets theological:

The Assumption—the Catholic “truth” that Mary was assumed bodily into Heaven—was proclaimed an official dogma of the Church by Pope Pius XII in his Munificentissimus Deus on November 1, 1950. This was announced ex cathedra, so it’s an irrefutable truth coming directly from God. The Pope said:

For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.


Now the Bible says exactly nothing about Mary’s death or fate. As the Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Regarding the day, year, and manner of Our Lady’s death, nothing certain is known.” The doctrine of the Assumption was made up centuries after the supposed death of Jesus. As usual, this fabrication rested on dubious interpretation of the Bible, Church “tradition” (i.e., stuff that Church fathers made up), and “reason” (i.e., theological “logic”).

Coyne reviews the dubious "evidence" used to corroborate this belief: spurious passages from Psalms and Revelation, and letters from various saints from the 5th century CE. Not convinced yet?

Finally, to Pope Pius, Mary’s assumption must be true simply because it makes sense:

Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that exists between what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have always considered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is in wonderful accord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.

When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on this privilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out of filial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base the strength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all those prerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing the sanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection of preeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.

That’s about all the “evidence” for a bedrock doctrine of Catholic faith. In fact, it’s considered such a solid truth that if you deny it or scoff at it, you’ll go to hell!

The presentation of "evidence" for the Assumption tries to mimic empiricism. I always find it interesting when various religions try to give a veneer of respectability to their beliefs by presenting “evidence” that their mythologies are real. They torture logic and reason and call their fantasies logical and reasonable. I would have more respect for them if they’d just just chalked it up to an article of faith and moved on. Instead their leaders say with a straight face that the Assumption makes sense.

Good stuff, read the whole post.

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