Further thoughts on yaoi

Now that I’ve slept on it a bit, I have some more articulate, less brash thoughts on why this Courtyard of the Gentiles idea kicks my last nerve.

There is a germ of a good idea in there. It is absolutely not wrong of the Catholic Church to create a forum for debate over their religion. They don’t actually see it as a forum for debate so much as an opportunity to proselytize, but the fact that they’re giving atheists a seat at the table has the potential to be a very brave move on the RCC’s part. As Greta Christina has said, and as I have parroted before, “Can’t we just have a conversation?” The Pontifical Council for Culture’s allowing the godless into the ring is, if nothing else, the beginning of a conversation. That is a good thing. Perhaps religion’s greatest trick was to convince everyone that it was exempt from open debate, that it is entitled to bring its wares to the market in an armored truck and sell them from behind a curtain. The fact that one major world religion is up to creating a forum for discussion with people who believe in one less god than they do is a sign that they are prepared to install windows in the armored truck and let some people in under the curtain.

The part that offends me is not even really that the Council intends the Courtyard as an opportunity to tell atheists that God loves them and it’s not too late to be Saved; of course that’s what they want to do with this. Everyone knows the side which dictates the terms of the debate has a better chance of winning, and it’s perfectly natural to want to enter the debate under terms that are favorable to your side. I don’t blame the Council for trying to stack the deck in their favor. They’d be foolish if they didn’t. The fact that their organization is the one hosting the encounter and discussion means they have room to control the conversation.

The problem is they’re not only trying to stack the deck, but they’re so freaking transparent about it. Couldn’t they at least try to be subtle about their pathetic attempt to make their side look intellectually superior in every way?

They don’t want guys like Hitchens and Dawkins (and by extension, neither are they open to Harris, Dennett, Grayling, Stenger et.al.) because they know perfectly well that every time the Horsemen go up against religious apologists in debate, the religious side gets humiliated and the atheists don’t even have to exert themselves. They’re willing to give atheists a seat at the table, but only atheists who read Scripture the way the Church wants them to, and who promise to lay off the irony and sarcasm. In fact, they’re not even challenging the godless movement to come up with other voices to represent its ideas in the public square—there’s nothing wrong with asking to see some fresh faces, rather than another round with the same clutch of native Anglophone white guys with advanced degrees that everyone knows already—but they don’t want fresh faces, they expect the godless to send a defenseless novice in for a bloodbath, and for some reason they think it’s perfectly natural that they solicit debate partners in such terms.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, to be so pathetically transparent in their desperate bid for superiority, is either incredibly stupid, or they think atheists are incredibly stupid, but either way, it’s an insult to our intelligence. There will be godless debaters who will happily submit themselves for encounter and discussion in the search for truth, but they will not be meek and biddable like the RCC expects its atheists visitors to be. The evil, vicious New Atheists see what’s going on, and they will not let it go so easily.