A Catholic Accuses Atheists of ‘Magical Thinking’… Seriously April 3, 2012

A Catholic Accuses Atheists of ‘Magical Thinking’… Seriously

Remember the atheist billboard about slavery?

Recently, one Catholic tried to look for a rebuttal showing that the Bible wasn’t really pro-slavery.

Not having any luck, the person wrote to Mark Shea of the National Catholic Register for advice.

Shea responded with the following… and it’s a doozy:

I think that atheists like your friend really need to break free of fundamentalist magical thinking and learn to read books written by and for grownups.

Wait, what?!

We’re the ones guilty of “magical thinking”?!

We’re the ones who need to read books by “grownups”?

The guy who believes Jesus inhabits crackers and wine suddenly turns in Jesus’ blood after a priest says “Abracadabra” thinks that those of us who look for truth through science and critical thinking are the “magical” ones?!


That’s not even the worst thing he writes. Later in his response, Shea suggests that if atheists achieve “our goal” of eradicating Christianity, then slavery will return to the world:

the New Atheists are stone blind to this in their deep ignorance and arrogance and so fail to realize that the first result of extirpating Christianity is the return of slavery: a practice which goes on unabated outside of all the spheres of the world untouched by the Christian tradition and soon to return to the West if the New Atheists succeed in suppressing the Christian tradition.

As if Christians are the sole force keeping slavery in check around the world…

(Don’t bother reading the comment thread there. The comments appear to be from another article written two years ago. Maybe the Register was afraid too many people would criticize this idiotic response so they tried to be sneaky about it.)

if you’re curious, you can see a thorough documentation of how slavery appears in the “Good Book” at Skeptics Annotated Bible.

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  • usclat

    Why give this idiot a forum? Seriously, there is nothing in what he says that inspires a debate or a reply. 

  • L.Long

    The only xtians in this country that were against slavery were the northern industrialists  who hated the unfair competition of free labor.  The US xtians -for the most part- thought slavery was just fine.  But then he knows that but needs to reflect his buyBull BS onto the atheists.
    As USCLAT says there is nothing in what he says!

  • My favorite quote is

    One of the things grownups understand is that things like the epistle
    to the Colossians were not written by a wizard who could wave a wand and
    eradicate an institution that had existed absolutely everywhere the
    fallen human lived since the dawn of time.
     Except for that Christians believe that the bible is inspired by an sky-wizard who could wave a wand and eradicate an institution that had existed absolutely everywhere the fallen human lived since the dawn of time.  In fact, according to them, their God is the only thing that is capable of that. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree with usclat.  People like Shea are not worth the time to converse with.  I have said it before, and will again, the hypocrisy of religion knows no limits.  The scary thing is that the person who wrote to him probably ate up that response.  Rubbish.

  • Grung_e_Gene

    It takes more faith to be an atheist, chuckle chuckle chuckle

    When we allow those who believe in myths and legends to alter language don’t be surprised when they try and Orwellian you into an attackable position.

  • Anonymous

    This is part of the narrative that Christianity invented kindness to the outsider and weak and unpowerful, like widows, orphans, and slaves. Nevermind the philosophical schools of Stoicism and Epicureans both treated slaves as human beings (many philosophers being Greek slaves to a Roman patriarchy/household), and no one did anything about the institution of slavery for ages.

  •  Christian abolitionists used the Bible to argue against slavery, just as Christian slave owners and supporters of slavery used it to argue for it. As anybody familiar with  history knows, the Bible can be used (selectively, of course) to support nearly any position.

    The behavior of Christians in the years before the Civil War just serves to demonstrate that most will ultimately develop their own ethos, and then simply attempt to justify it in Biblical terms.

  • Safe to assume Marky Mark will postulate that witch burnings shall return as well! And suffrage for women will be yanked back! Haha!

  • Quibble:  the transubstantiation spell is “Hocus Pocus,” not “Abracadabra.” 

    Be careful with that latter one, it’s unforgivable.

  • Kyle Anderson

    Nice anachronism on the billboard. Clearly that was exactly the type of slavery spoken of in Colossians. Christians who are against slavery must be against the Bible, they are so hypocritical. 

  • Next thing you know they’ll use the word “science” in relation to creationism and “skeptic” in relation in global warming denial.

  • Kyle Anderson

    Which is why they need a Magisterium…

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, we know that the good Christians in the Bible only had indentured servants who were treated extremely well…

  • Well, perhaps some Christians will love that reply … but I bet there is a bunch who will realise there is some irony in those comments and will (hopefully) have a tiny crack of doubt appear in their own faith as a result.

  • Daniel Krull


    ” a practice which goes on unabated –outside of all the spheres of the world untouched by the Christian tradition–” (Emphasis mine) – If slavery is a practice that goes on outside of all the spheres of the world that are UNTOUCHED BY CHRISTIAN TRADITION, then isn’t the author saying that Christianity in fact DOES cause slavery?  XD

  • Annie

    “(Don’t bother reading the comment thread there. The comments appear to
    be from another article written two years ago. Maybe the Register was afraid too many people would criticize this idiotic response so they tried to be sneaky about it.)”

    I just checked the comment thread, and it appears to be up and running about this article (from your first link to it).

  • Bruce Heerssen

    I noted rather sardonically that several commenters at the NC Register trotted out the  old trope about Atheists simply not understanding the Christian bible and its message well enough. Of course, we know better, having examined just that issue: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/28/nation/la-na-religion-survey-20100928

  • Yes–it takes self-faith and belief in humanity. Being human is the only thing we all undeniably share. Religion carves up that connection from the get-go.

  •  Tell me about it!  It took a year for my eyebrows to grow back in after an Abracadabra misfire!  The poor dog has never been the same since. *sob*

  • The Other Weirdo

     Heh. Not only that, but the self-same sky-wizard has already nuked several cities from orbit, caused an extinction-level event, is currently planning another ELE, and is responsible for ruining any chance humans have for cooperation via scrambling of our languages.

  • The Other Weirdo

     The ’80s and ’90s saw the Satanic Ritual Abuse moral panic, which was the 20th century equivalent to a witch burnings. Somewhere in Africa, I saw earlier, they’re trying to institute Sharia Law, and I didn’t see a single woman in the footage.

    Let’s not pat ourselves on the backs until such things become impossible to even consider getting off the ground.

  • LutherW

    This prompted a Google search on my part to try and find a suitable
    explanation of this and other references to slavery in the New Testament
    that would not make the Church look awful, but I couldn’t find anything
    really very helpful.

    I am amazed. Not at what he did not find but a Xtian actually reading the magical book.

  • What is the transmogrification spell? I can’t find my tome. I think my magical broom swept it under the trans-dimensional rug. If you don’t have one of those I highly recommend them. Both the broom and the rug actually. 

  • Anonymous

    My favorite is the talking snake… sort of like the talking animals in “Bed knobs and Broomsticks”…  Did anyone address the magic of how one gets knocked up without sex?

  • TiltedHorizon

    Yes, clearly the bible is talking about ‘good’ slavery. Silly atheist, always confusing the time honored tradition of owning people when clearly it is only ‘bad’ when its racially motivated.

  • You need a Transmogrifier Gun for that.  Or a cardboard box labeled “Transmogrifier”.  Either one works equally well.

  • westley

    By the way Hemant, they fixed the old comments, so people can come over and point out Shea’s many boners.

  • Anonymous

    Shea writes:

    It’s curious to me that so many atheists simultaneously deny the existence of God and insist that believers have to learn to live in the real world—and then complain that he does not do magical things.

    We atheists didn’t create this problem. Christians’ own scriptures show faith and prayer working like Green Lantern Rings when “magical things” come in handy.We just ask you to demonstrate those powers for us now.

  • MurOllavan

    From the comments made by a Christian:

    “Slavery isn’t always inhumane.”

  • Coyotenose

     That’s… hang on… *rereads several times* Dayumn, that is EXACTLY what he managed to write.

  • But he LOVES us!!!

  • Brian Pansky

    and they better not forget about hordes of these people:


    Along with other varieties that are only a bit less extreme about it.  My mom thinks god uses birds to watch us.  My brother thinks god did a card trick for him.  My uncle thinks god made a big lightning in the middle of a storm as a sign for him.  At work is a lady that thinks the changing colors of the leaves in the fall season are a sign of ‘the power of god’. 

    And don’t get me started about the things people use to actually try to convert people to christianity.

    I have to swim through this garbage, and I’m the one inventing it?

  • Heintje

    And, he wants our money! (Gotta love George Carlin)

  • Anonymous

    Boy, you need new friends and family.

  • Heintje

    They also weren’t allowed to beat their slaves to death (Exodus 21:20-21). And, if they damaged their slaves’ eyes or teeth, they had to set the slaves free (Exodus 21:26-27).

    That was, like, so humane and compassionate, man!

  • Almost Chris

    Chris is right.  One theory of “Hocus Pocus” was that it was created as a mockery of the Latin mass.   At the moment of transubstantiation, the priest says , “Hoc est corpus meum”, Latin for, “This is my body.”  Growing up in a strict Catholic family, we were forbidden to ever say the term “Hocus Pocus”.

  • Anonymous

    I always thought both of them worked as long as your primary attribute was Intelligence or Faith and had enough mana to channel for 10 seconds. 

  • Exterpate! I learned a new word! That’s a good one.

  •  Hocus corpus!

  • Thanks a lot, Obama!

  • Robster

    There’s been lots around lately regards the catholic and other cults, like the mormons, losing truck loads of followers. This has perhaps resulted in the general level of  intelligence amongst believers falling even further. It is recognised that believing in the nonsense presented by the christian (and muzzy) afflicted is an illness. What’s needed is a cure. Atheism is that cure.

  • Keulan

    This isn’t even the pot calling the kettle black. This is the blackened pot calling the shiny white china black.

  • Hilarious! 🙂 But no, he just states that they co-exist. The cause can be something else.

  • Anonymous

     It’s still full of idiots trying to cherry pick the bible passages.

  • Anonymous

    but didn’t their pope apologize for slavery ? I’m sayin’

  • Anonymous

    I had to read it a couple of times but yes the idiot says exactly that. Slavery only exists in places touched by Christian tradition. What a tool.

  • Lurker111

    “Thou shalt not hold slaves” and “Thou shalt not abuse children” were on that third tablet.

  • Fentwin

    I had a disintegrating gun, but it fell to pieces. 

  • Sue Blue

    Classic case of projection.

  • Anonymous

    Shorter Mike Shea: Abolishionists = Magicians

  • Adam

     It is incredibly sad how Christians are automatically viewed as illogical followers. Albeit some people who identify themselves as Christian are this way, in the same regards as an atheist can be. To some of you reading this: If you want to at all claim to be an educated person, start educating yourself on what you are so adamantly opposed against. Stop basing you’re views of Christianity on people who identify themselves as Christian.  As a logical person, I’m sure you can understand that just because you say you are a Christian does not mean you represent or know what Christianity is. As far as this thread. Look at context, Colossians 2:23-24. Now cross reference that to Philipians 2. Lets also take a look at Paul who wrote Colossians. He refered to himself  as a slave of Christ (using the same Greek word). Lets also look at the context of when this was written. Why would Paul even address slaves, shouldn’t slaves know to obey their master? The fact Paul addresses them here is a big deal. And if all this doesn’t help see which groups were the leaders in the movement to abolish slavery.

  • Mitch Lampert

    This is a good example of why the billboard was such an utter failure: Instead of getting people to think, it only incites this sort of dissonance resolution.

  • Anonymous

    “3: Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above (the things said before chapter 3), where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, noton the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

    Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which ammounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the One who created him- arenewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

    So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankfull. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in you hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

    Wives, be subject to your husbands, as fitting in the Lord. Hisbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. SLAVES, IN ALL THNGS OBEY THOSE WHO ARE YOUR MASTERS ON EARTH, NOT WITH EXTERNAL SERVICE, AS THOSE WHO MERELY PLEASE MEN, BUT WITH SINCERITY OF HEART, FEARING THE LORD. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO YOUR WORK HEARTILY, AS FOR THE LORD RATHER THAN FOR MEN, KNOWING THAT FROM THE LORD YOU WILL RECEIVE THE REWARD OF THE INHERITANCE. IT IS THE LORD CHRIST WHOM YOU SERVE. FOR HE WHO DOES WRONG WILL RECEIVE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE WRONG WHICH HE HAS DONE, AND THAT WITHOUT PARTIALITY.


    Colossians 3:1 – 4:1
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

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