It's pretty funny that the argument that you and Rain Dog bring up - it's not religion, it's just shitty people - always gets brought up in cases where it's religious people doing shitty things. At some point can't we just admit that religious belief has a propensity to let awful people do awful things. And that goes for the followers just as much the ones at the podium.
Now, while I won't go so far as to say that a world without religion would be a better place, such hypotheticals being pointless, how can you say that the world wouldn't have been a better place without Catholicism.
Before people start calling me a bigot, let me say I was raised Catholic. My family is still all Catholic - moderate, sensible people who I love. I don't begrudge anyone their faith in the basic Christian doctrines inherent in Catholicism. But when it comes to the institution of the Catholic church, how do you possibly look at all of the evil shit its been responsible for throughout history and not call it a corrupt, often criminal organization?
It posits that a man who covered up the rape of children, tells people in Africa that condoms spread AIDS, and thinks homosexuals and secularists are going to lead to the downfall of civilization is the infallible representative of God. And that's just the current one. In this century. Think of all the other heinous shit the church has been responsible for throughout the centuries.
A lot of people in here are defending religion, faith, etc. Fine. Someone take a stab at defending the actual Catholic Church.
Some additional points from Wikipedia:
|St.Thomas Aquinas, the Church's "model theologian," argued that reason is in harmony with faith, and that reason can contribute to a deeper understanding of revelation, and so encouraged intellectual development. The Church's priest-scientists, many of whom were Jesuits, have been among the leading lights in astronomy, genetics, geomagnetism,meteorology, seismology, and solar physics, becoming some of the "fathers" of these sciences. Examples include important churchmen such as the Augustinian abbot Gregor Mendel (pioneer in the study of genetics), Roger Bacon (a Franciscan friar who was one of the early advocates of the scientific method), and Belgian priest Georges Lemaître (the first to propose the Big Bang theory). Other notable priest scientists have included Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Nicholas Steno, Francesco Grimaldi, Giambattista Riccioli, Roger Boscovich, and Athanasius Kircher. Even more numerous are Catholic laity involved in science:Henri Becquerel who discovered radioactivity; Galvani, Volta, Ampere, Marconi, pioneers in electricityand telecommunications; Lavoisier, "father of modern chemistry"; Vesalius, founder of modern human anatomy; and Cauchy, one of the mathematicians who laid the rigorous foundations of calculus.|
|Francisco de Vitoria, a disciple of Thomas Aquinas and a Catholic thinker who studied the issue regarding the human rights of colonized natives, is recognized by the United Nations as a father of international law, and now also by historians of economics and democracy as a leading light for the West's democracy and rapid economic development.
Historian of hospitals, Guenter Risse, says that the Church spearheaded the development of a hospital system geared towards the marginalized.
Joseph Schumpeter, an economist of the twentieth century, referring to the Scholastics, wrote, "it is they who come nearer than does any other group to having been the ‘founders’ of scientific economics." Other economists and historians, such as Raymond de Roover, Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, and Alejandro Chafuen, have also made similar statements. Historian Paul Legutko of Stanford University said the Catholic Church is "at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws, and institutions which constitute what we call Western civilization."