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Friday, 7 November 2014

Pat Condell

Pat is an indefatigable maker of YouTube videos. He is very articulate and has one or two hobby horses. A man should have a hobby horse (or two)!

Here are some of mine:
·         Catholicism rocks.
·         Socialism sucks.
·         Islam is a bad plan for Humanity.
·         Free markets are the only mechanism for creating wealth and improving life for the poor.
·         Democracy is dangerous without a moral electorate.
·         Climate Change (man-made) is a crock.
·         Abortion is an unambiguous evil.

How many hobby horses am I allowed? My decision!

I like Pat very much and have watched dozens of his videos. Unsurprisingly, the ones I like most are the ones that reinforce my own prejudices – I may soon post a defence of prejudice. He is very rude about Islam, though not about Muslims in general.

He hates religion – and here I have to part from him. I believe that bad religion is very bad, just as bad science is very bad. I think that I can tell the difference. Pat doesn't differentiate. He stands up bravely for ‘western’ values without acknowledging that they owe their existence largely to Christianity. The history of the Church is not without blemishes but, in my not-very-humble view, you do not have to be an outsider to critique the Church’s historical failings. The best critiques of evil deeds committed by Christians come from Christian theology.

Digression: I should hate to be understood to be saying that ‘modern’ Christianity is good, whereas Christians in the past did wicked things. Christians in the past did do wicked things. For example, the conquistadors treated the peoples of South America abominably. They were roundly condemned by Spanish Scholastics. Another example, from our own day: some who call themselves Christians practise abortion; the Catholic Church has a simple ruling on abortion: it is wicked.

Pat Condell was, I think, brought up as a Catholic. Like many ex-Catholic atheists he has a particular animus against Catholicism. So, I am taken aback when he attacks Catholic beliefs. A couple of instances will do: he maintains (like Dawkins and Mark Twain) that Faith (one of the three theological virtues) means ‘believing what you know ain’t true’. I want to ask him, ‘Is that what you thought when you were a Catholic?’ It certainly isn’t what I believe. He seems to believe that Christians wish to impose Christianity upon everybody else. Free Will is foundational to Christianity. Coercion is contrary to Christian belief.

I am much more lenient on him for his representation of Islam. Here he seems much fairer than he is to Christianity. He opposes Islam, yes. But the Islam he opposes is the Islam that Muslims themselves espouse. We frequently see Muslims carrying placards rejecting Democracy and Freedom. We never see Catholics doing the equivalent: demanding the beheading of those who are unbaptized. David Wood and Robert Spencer are better informed about the Koran, Mohammed, the Hadith and Shari’ah than Pat Condell is (than I am). They too dislike Islam and use Islamic sources to reveal what they dislike. Pat opposes paper-and-ink Islamic texts and flesh-and-blood Muslims but his Christian targets are straw men.

The Church is shrinking in the West, though growing in Africa and Asia. America without Christianity is a grim thought; but there have been countless revivals in the past – not that I expect to embrace all revivalists.

I will include a couple of links to PC’s videos, chosen more or less at random.

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