Coming out is hard to do. I know. You’re never sure how people are going to react. I’ve gotten the full spectrum of reactions, everything from “Awesome, me too” to “No, you’re not” to the ever popular “You know you’re going to hell, right”. I’ve never asked that people accept my atheism, just that they respect my right of conscience. That’s why when I read about Leah Libresco’s announcement that she’s switching sides, I didn’t feel the need to jump all over her. Even the fact that she continued writing "as an atheist" for another month after her realization didn't bother me. In a way, it was kind of expected. I read her blog off and on, always more interested in how she was going to argue her point rather than what she was arguing. She was a "theist's atheist", much as S.E. Cupp is, although I would have hesitated to make that comparison. That is, until I actually read her post explaining her conversion.
I wasn’t upset that she had become a theist, just disappointed. That she “feels” morality is a person is about as ridiculous a reason as I’ve ever heard for belief in the supernatural. It’s weakness couched in sophistry. That she wants there to be some force for good in the universe doesn’t change the fact that she can’t possibly know whether or not there is; and the fact is that the universe behaves exactly as we’d expect it to without a supreme moral agent working for good. Not to mention she ignores every other argument in favor of non-belief. All this didn’t really seem worth my time to rebut.
A conversion to Roman Catholicism, however, is worth a rebuttal. Of all the religious traditions available, she chose one of the most wretchedly immoral of the lot. With everything that the Catholic Church has done and believed throughout its history and all that it continues to, she chose it?
The church of the golden throne and the starving child.
The church of the Madonna and dying mothers.
The church of Highest Truth and greatest lies.
If she is now Catholic, then she kisses the ring and trades her freedom for hierarchy, homophobia, genocide, protected pederasty, and misogyny. They do not actually bend on this. Canon Law is Canon Law (unless the Pope changes his mind). Her reservation about the church's stance on homosexuality is cute, liberal pap. They don't care if it makes you squeamish. I expect more Lewis and Chesterson (really, Leah those are the philosphical shoulders you stand upon?), and probably some Teilhard de Chardin. You know, to show us how good Catholicism is. How about some Francis of Assisi? I mean, seriously? St Patrick's Breastplate?
In the comments, some asked her why not deism, Unitarian Universalism, or some other moderate form of belief. Given her choice, I’m wondering why not Wahhabi Islam?
I have always contended that I am open to the existence of the divine, that I will gladly shed my atheism for belief in the presence of evidence. What I have never, and will never concede, is that the divine powers of any of the extant religions are examples of good moral agents, and especially not the tyrannical god of Abraham. If that were to be the god of this world, I would fight it with every fiber of my being, no matter the futility.
I wish Leah well on her journey. She has said that her conversion is not over. I certainly hope so.