Thursday, May 03, 2012
Mr. David Niose and Clark University's Christianophobic "Freethought Society"
Back in January, I noted how Paul Agne of Clark University's "Freethought Society" wrote that there's nothing wrong with mocking Christianity, asserting that, "Even if we do criticize/mock Christianity, there is nothing wrong with that. If I see irrational dogma, bigotry, intolerance, etc it is not exempt from criticism/ridicule just because it is someone's religious (or political/cultural/etc) belief. And furthermore, as Christianity is the dominant religion in the US, and inserts itself into our lives daily it will of course be more relevant to us, and we will have more to say about it than, say, Jainism."
For Mr. Agne then [and for the "Freethought Society" as a whole since the group published his comments], Christianity is equivalent to irrationality, bigotry and intolerance. Which no doubt is why the Worcester Telegram & Gazette ran a positive story on this hate group. In an article entitled "Non-believer groups grow on campus," we read that, "Mr David Niose, a local attorney who is president of the American Humanist Association, said many students today prefer reason or logic over spirituality."
Of course, as Pope John Paul II reminded us in his Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, on the relationship between faith and reason, faith and reason go hand-in-hand: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).
But Mr. Niose insists that the students attracted to atheist groups on campus such as Clark's "Freethought Society," "choose reason over the beliefs that come from ancient texts" and that "many students are being driven to non-belief because of the rigid dogma and very conservative views espoused by some churches." (See here).
But faith and reason can never contradict one another. As Saint Thomas Aquinas explains in his Summa Contra Gentiles I, 7:
"The truth that the human reason is naturally endowed to know cannot be opposed to the truth of the Christian faith. For that with which the human reason is naturally endowed is clearly most true; so much so, that it is impossible for us to think of such truths as false. If we only understand the meaning of the terms in such self-evident propositions as 'The whole is greater than the part' or 'What has color must have size,' we cannot think them false. Nor is it permissible to believe as false that which we hold by faith, since this is confirmed in a way that is so clearly divine. It is not our faith but its object, God, that justifies our certainty. Since, therefore, only the false is opposed to the true, as is clearly evident from an examination of their definitions, it is impossible that truth of faith should be opposed to those principles that the human reason knows naturally."
It is most ironic that Mr. Niose should refer to some of the Churches as being "rigid." This because Clark University's "Freethought Society" is extremely rigid and intolerant toward views which dissent from its own. As I noted here:
Just recently, Pope Benedict XVI said that, "It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church's public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres...Cardinal George Pell of Australia has correctly noted that, 'Some secularists seem to like one way streets..Their intolerance of Christianity seeks to drive it out not only from the public square, but even from the provision of education, health care and welfare services to the wider community. Tolerance has come to mean different things for different groups. Indeed. And this intolerance of tolerance is in evidence at Clark University in Worcester. At its website, we read that:
•Are passionate about ideas, causes and events beyond themselves.
•Embrace issues and take action.
•Approach life with open minds and a global perspective."
And yet, because I questioned the research findings of one of Clark University's professors, Dr. Abbie Goldberg, one of the university's approved student groups - the Clark "Freethought" Society, posted my photo with the following commentary from Clark Student Brian Seitzman: "He's a delusional nutter who spends a lot of time posting photos of aborted fetuses on FB [Facebook]*...He also appears to have some major persecution fantasies...In short, the guy's pretty much of an ass.... but you'd likely figured that much out already." Apparently Mr. Seitzman would consider Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Pell - not to mention a growing number of the Church's hierarchy - to be "delusonal nutters" who suffer from "persecution fantasies."
Pope John Paul II reminded us in Centesimus Annus that, "Authentic democracy is possible only in a State ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person. It requires that the necessary conditions be present for the advancement both of the individual through education and formation in true ideals, and of the 'subjectivity' of society through the creation of structures of participation and shared responsibility. Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and sceptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life. Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends. It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism."
Authentic Christians have always and everywhere accepted a "healthy pluralism." At the same time, such Christians have also understood that they have an obligation to acknowledge their beliefs and to preach the moral message given to them by the Lord Jesus. The follower of the Lord Jesus possesses a qualified certainty regarding the tenets of Natural Law and other truths which are revealed by God and help guide the conduct of man. Consequently, the authentic Christian understands that Christian ethical principles inform human society. Secular Humanists and those committed toward advancing the radical homosexual agenda have their own agenda and will do everything in their power to censor the Christian view.
The authentic Christian [or any person of good will] will reject the sophism of those who declare that anyone who does not buy into the Dictatorship of Relativism (a pluralism of opinions which rejects any and all absolute truth or even its possibility) is a "fanatic" or a "fundamentalist." On the contrary, such people will defend the truth in a positive manner. And while respecting persons and living out charity, they will proclaim the truth without fear.
This is the mind of Christ. As Pope John Paul II taught us in his Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, No. 95:
"The Church's teaching, and in particular her firmness in defending the universal and permanent validity of the precepts prohibiting intrinsically evil acts, is not infrequently seen as the sign of an intolerable intransigence, particularly with regard to the enormously complex and conflict-filled situations present in the moral life of individuals and of society today; this intransigence is said to be in contrast with the Church's motherhood. The Church, one hears, is lacking in understanding and compassion. But the Church's motherhood can never in fact be separated from her teaching mission, which she must always carry out as the faithful Bride of Christ, who is the Truth in person. As Teacher, she never tires of proclaiming the moral norm... The Church is in no way the author or the arbiter of this norm. In obedience to the truth which is Christ, whose image is reflected in the nature and dignity of the human person, the Church interprets the moral norm and proposes it to all people of good will, without concealing its demands of radicalness and perfection...
In fact, genuine understanding and compassion must mean love for the person, for his true good, for his authentic freedom. And this does not result, certainly, from concealing or weakening moral truth, but rather from proposing it in its most profound meaning as an outpouring of God's eternal Wisdom, which we have received in Christ, and as a service to man, to the growth of his freedom and to the attainment of his happiness."
Clark University's "Freethought" Society has one post after another on Facebook ridiculing religious belief (especially Christianity) and has numerous links to radical secularist groups which seek to drive Christianity out of the political and cultural spheres and to relegate it to the margins of society. In short, far from encouraging authentic dialogue and a healthy pluralism, the university-approved student group apparently has the sole purpose of demonizing any and all religious expression.
Free thought? Or slavery to what Pope Benedict XVI has referred to as the "Dictatorship of Relativism"?
Why should this trouble Brian Seitzman? The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has hundreds of photographs of murdered Jews at its website to highlight the atrocities of the Third Reich.
Related posts here and here.