Thursday, December 3, 2015

When "Christian Terrorism" Isn't

As a Jewish atheist who resents Christian privilege in America and as one who finds Christian teachings ridiculous, I'm not especially fond of that  religion. But if we're going to criticize it, let's do so objectively.
The regressive Left, which reflexively defends Islam no matter how often Muslim extremists commit violence against others, wasted no time in pouncing on  Robert Dear who attacked the Planned Parenthood center, as an example of Christians who also commit terrorism ("See? They do it too").  And some leftists are even calling Dear a "White Christian terrorist"

The difference is that Muslims who terrorize others as in the recent assault on Paris openly acknowledge that they are doing so in support of  Islam. So far Dear has not justified his actions in the name of any religion or race. Instead he simply said "No more baby parts".  Non-religious motivation was also definitely true for example, of the Oklahoma City bomber, Extreme Timothy McVeigh, a right-wing extremist. His reason was hatred of the U.S. federal government.  In short these two were  not using Christianity as an excuse for committing their heinous crimes. That's why it's inaccurate to label them as Christian terrorists.

To put it another way, don't we atheists object to the cliche that we often hear that "Stalin and Pol Pot were atheists, and look at the atrocities they committed."?  Our response is yes they were evil men who did terrible things, but they did not carry them out in the name of atheism. Likewise, that is the same standard that we should apply to Christians and members of other religions whom we condemn as terrorists for their heinous acts: Did or did they not do so so in the name of these beliefs?  If not then let's not use religion as a target if there's no basis to do so.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

They've Got To Change Their Evil Ways

My cousin Morty in Israel reminded me about the recent rantings by U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson who recently stated that instead of being built as a burial place for ancient Egyptian royalty, the Pyramids were actually constructed by the biblical character Joseph for the purpose of grain storage. This story also was covered by media here in the Philippines which is also following the U.S. election.

In a recent "Atheist Revolution" post about Freethought vs. Tribalism, the moderator discussed why it's not a good idea to be bound by ideology, and in keeping with this philosophy he shares certain opinions with both  the American Right and the Left, depending on the topic. He further states that no political party has all the answers. For the most part I concur with him.  However, here was part of my response:

 "...I agree that it's foolish to totally accept the creed of a given political party, only because it's that party's ideology. That's why I don't go along with all of the Democratic party's "progressive" / liberal tenets, e.g. in re illegal immigrants. But I do uphold many of them. However, I reject the Republican party out of hand as it has become an obscene mockery of its previous values. For example, at one time its leaders were. willing to moderate for the greater good of America, not shut it down. IMO its most prominent members are political and socioeconomic perverts who want to impose Christianity as the national religion and who almost destroyed the middle class in 2008 while they profited from the resulting depression--and are still doing so."

And don't even get me started about their regressive attacks on reproductive rights, health care, and social security. 

Ben ​Carson who by the way is also a creationist extraordinaire and as it turns out a liar about his background, is just one of many of a string of GOP misfits which goes back decades.  So I suppose that I should be used to Republicans' rantings by now.  But the utterings that come out of their mouth still floor me, e.g.  "Texas Congressman Wants To Put Gay People On An Island To See If They Die Out". And as further evidence of this party's homophobic leanings, see (and hear) "Republican Candidates Speak at Event Hosted  By  Pastor Who Wants Gay People To Be Put To Death".

As for the Texas representative's proposal I have a better idea. Let's put all the GOP politicians on an island. With their aversion to socioeconomic cooperation and sharing  which they would likely  disparage as "socialism",  maybe in time they'd die out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two Perspectives on the Middle East Refugee Crisis

A cousin of mine, Morty,  who lives in Israel, and I have been discussing via email the migration of people from the Middle East (predominantly Syrian)  who have been pouring into Europe. The situation has reached crisis proportions as the countries  where they have entered can't accommodate further arrivals. Following is a dialog between Morty, and me, which shows different points of view regarding the plight of these refugees, and how and even whether it is comparable with that of other groups who have fled from their homelands in recent history.

Morty: Well, here they go again. I just heard Tom Tancredo (a former member of the House and 2008 candidate for the GOP nomination) on Fixed News say that Trump is the right guy because he will keep the Moslem refugee immigrants out of the States.
Now change the time to the 1930s and Moslem to Jew and what do you have.
Yes, I know that he is on the fringe of things which is why Fixed News trotted him out. But, I would bet that many of the bozos who support Trump think the same way.
Mexicans, Moslems, Chinese, Jews, what not. They are all the same.
And, things here are not better. The asshole who is Prime Minister has said that Israel is a small country and we don't have the money to help the refugees. But, we do have the billions to build a wall between us and Jordan.

Rick: Yet I wonder how desperate some of these "refugees" really are. After arriving in Southern Europe, they weren't satisfied just to be out of harm's way. Instead they went on to pick and choose the countries they wanted to migrate to, usually in Northern Europe, and then went there by any means necessary, including braking through security fences to the Channel Tunnel and  stowing away on trucks bound for England. So in effect many (most) of these people are economic migrants rather then political refugees. And now as it is, Hungary and parts of Germany are being overrun with migrants to the point it's getting more than they can handle. Is that their fault?

As for comparing the plight of Muslims now to Jewish refugees in the 1930's and Chinese immigrants too for that  matter, neither group turned into terrorists against the host countries and instead assimilated and became productive citizens, in stark contrast to Muslims  particularly North Africans in Europe. Likewise, America went out of its way to rescue and resettle Somalis beginning in the 1980's mainly the Mpls-St Paul area. And here is the thanks the U.S.  has gotten:The Twin Cities have an ISIS problem.  Not only that but Somalis in the U.S on welfare have complained because food banks don't offer halal selections. If observant American Jews who are getting government assistance are demanding kosher food, I'm not aware of it.  

Addendum: Here's another goody I forgot to include:Islamists in Germany trying to recruit young refugees.The fact that recruiters would even spend the time to make this effort indicates that they must have had success in their endeavors. Else why would they bother? In turn, that says a lot about at least some the migrants' leanings. I wouldn't look for a high assimilation rate among these people.

Morty: Yes, Rick, they are not so happy at getting out of places where their lives are really in danger and into a place like Greece. After all there is no possibility of work or any of the other things that makes life livable.

Only foolish people would not set their sights on someplace where work is available. And Germany is that place.

As to recruiting among the refugees, well what can I say. If you have young people who are alienated from their surrounding society, then they become fertile ground for this kind of behavior.

Or the Jewish thugs who fir bombed the house in Arab Jerusalem where the mother, father and one of their kids died from their burns. And, most likely their one surviving son will not survive.

Rick: The point about the migrants managing to arrive safely in Southern Europe is and then hightailing it for Northern Europe is more than just about jobs. It reflects their ruthlessness to enter countries like Germany and the UK by any means necessary endangering not just their own safety and welfare but that of others, e.g. users of the Channel Tunnel and the drivers of trucks in which migrants have stowed away. Further, one can only wonder whether  these  migrants upon arrival at their chosen countries will even try to assimilate into the respective cultures where they reside.

And as you probably know, Germany among other countries has been so overwhelmed by the flood of refugees that it's had to institute border controls (sound familiar?) to stop the influx. Yes, even the liberal EU countries have reached their breaking point on this issue. In short future migrants who may have been motivated to head north  by their predecessors' success in entering  those countries with an "accept first and verify later" policy have become victims of the earlier arrivals' success.

As for young refugees being recruited because they feel alienated, good grief these  people "just got off the boat" so to speak. How could they already be estranged? If they're being solicited by Islamists at reception centers, that must mean they've only been in their new country for a few days--or less.  And if they're in reception centers, that means that their not scrounging desperately on the streets as would happens to immigrants in less enlightened countries. Sounds more like a character issue.

How this recruitment activity for both the Islamists (who are probably living comfortably in the country they hate)  and the refugees themselves relates to the Jewish thugs who committed the vicious crimes that mentioned is unclear. 

Morty: I guess this is another area that we will continue to disagree on. The impact of being a refugee is a complicated one. And, oddly enough something that hasn't really been studied.

As to alienation, well imagine yourself as a 17, 18, 19 year old who has been uprooted from your home for whatever reason. How would you react?

Rick:  How would I react? Well, I'd like to think that I'd show gratitude to the country that gave me refuge and not join an organization that hates my rescuer.  BTW correct me if I'm wrong, but so far I have not heard about any kind of  expressions of thanks from the migrants to Germany or to the other countries that took them inor where they barged  in. 

Morty: I would suspect that most refugees do in fact express the gratitude. But, they aren't as sexy as those who turn radical.

Germany (at least West Germany) had a major refugee crisis after the Second World War. They had to absorb a few million German expellees. These were mostly Germans who had settled in conquered territory in Eastern Europe and after the defeat of the Nazis they were kicked out along with Germans who had lived in the areas for generations.

They had a very difficult time adjusting to life in West Germany and many became supporters of the Christian Democratic Party and neo-nazi groups.

So things change but then again they don't.

Rick:  I tried googling phrases like "Syrian refugees thank Germany" and   I came up with only one hit, which was a migrant who was thanking the UK, not Germany. So I don't know whether this fruitless search proves your point or mine.

As for returnees to West Germany having a hard time adjusting, the beat goes on. As you probably know former East Germans and East Europeans are much less receptive to the migrants than Western Europe. In Hungary's case, they want to keep the place a "Christian country". So all those decades under the atheist USSR never took in the local culture?  But then Russians have also regressed to religious belief as well..
Finally, I remember another group of boat people, the Vietnamese refugees who fled their country and were brought to the U.S. where they settled and successfully assimilated into American culture. They did not make demands along the way such as accommodations for language differences or special treatment for their religious beliefs.  Such is not the case for certain  ethnic groups in the U.S. and Europe respectively. 

The bottom line is that despite my misgivings,  I only hope that  I'm wrong  and that the boat people who crossed the Mediterranean  under perilous conditions into Europe will likewise make the effort to acculturate into the host countries that so generously have given them a new lease on life. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

How Atheism Can Lead to a Happier Life

A recent post in the blog site "Atheist Revolution" discussed the topic:  Would You Rather Be Happy and Wrong or Unhappy and Right?  Personally, I think that it's not only wrong to hold on to false beliefs just because they make a person happy, it's also unhealthy. I think that theism falls into this category. And because the delusion of god-belief is so predominant in places such as the U.S. and for that matter especially here in the Philippines, millions of people are living in a fantasy world. Sure,  there's a lot of subjectivity in deciding whether a particular  belief is true or false. But so many traditional religious tales, especially the Scriptures, are so patently absurd that there's really no room for debate about whether there is any truth to them. Yet believers accept them just because "it's in the bible". 

What's behind this mass delusion? Brainwashing, obviously (actually "socialization" as my sociologist cousin corrected me). Beginning at an early age, most theists have their beliefs instilled into them by their parents and religious leaders. So by the time they're adults, they are almost totally conditioned, Yet somehow, some of them (myself included) whether by exposure to new ideas or a by a traumatic event eventually lose our faith in these ridiculous notions and learn to accept the reality that there is no proof that a supreme being exists, let alone intervenes in our lives.

As for me, am I any less happy for losing the crutch of false belief?  Not at all. Delusions are in the end really mental burdens, and because atheism has enabled me to shed that load, it has also simplified my outlook on lifeand death too for that matter. There is no evidence for an afterlife which means of course that when we die, it's lights out forever. Well, that inevitability doesn't bother me in the least. As Mark Twain aptly put it:  "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it". 

Was I happy when I was a believer? No. Belief in a God actually made life more difficult because it wasted my time by diverting part of my attention from my problems to this mythical entity who I hoped would help me, when I should have been fully focused on solving matters at hand instead.

The universe is indifferent to human needs and wants, and randomness happens in our lives all the time. But to the extent that there's no evidence for the existence of a God who manipulates our fates like a puppeteer and whom we must obey lest we be punished, this  is one less barrier in striving to achieve personal growth and happiness.

And that sounds right to me.   

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Should Atheists Applaud a Religious Leader's Endorsement of Science?

There have been many articles and discussions in the media about Pope Francis encyclical supporting protection of the environment. One such post caught my  attention because of its gushing title "Pope Francis just took a huge step to uniting religion with science".  Here was my response to that essay: 

"Sorry. Science and religion still don't mix. One is based on rational inquiry, the other on subjective faith. As for the Pope's stand on the environment, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. In this case however, Francis is only half right. For as long as the Church continues to oppose the right to artificial contraception and family planning, then overpopulation and poverty will continue to degrade the environment."

A cousin of mine who had also read about the Pope's pronouncement  reminded me that the relationship  between religion and science is more complex than meets the eye, and he mentioned that there have been many individuals  in various fields of science who also had ties to religious institutions, e.g. Roger Bacon, a monk who innovated the scientific method. This was my reply:

Yes I know about the blurring of lines between the members of the clergy and scientists. Gregor Mendel was a botanist and a monk. The founder of the astronomical observatory here in Metro-Manila, Federico Faura, was a  priest. But usually these "hybrids" as I call them credit God as the ultimate force of nature which it seems to me would inhibit their scientific objectivity e.g. in cosmological issues , e.g .involving the cause  of the Big Bang or what it means to say that not even time existed before then.

Also I wonder how would theistic physicists deal with the uncertainties in quantum mechanics or the theory that the universe does not have an eternal shelf life: It will eventually end in either in the Big Crunch or in an ever expanding universe wherein the galaxies themselves will unravel and all the stars and living things will eventually die out, leaving "God's creation" as a lifeless entity.

On the other hand, if the universe collapses back to a singularity in the Big Crunch, a subsequent Big Bang could the start the cycle of a new universe all over again. And maybe the universe  we're living in now is not the first one. There could be an infinite sequence of Big Bangs and Big Crunches. But in each such collapse,  life is snuffed out. {"The Lord giveth  and the Lord taketh away"repeatedly? That's quite an obsessiveness-compulsive complex).. Oh, and what about the existence of a multiverse or parallel universes which some cosmologists hypothesize is a distinct possibility. In these scenarios, is there one god per universe, else why would a supreme being need to create more than one such entity?

And how does a God-believing biologist deal with the fact that as the result of evolution by natural selection and catastrophic occurrences, 99.9% of all  beings since the beginning life on this planet have gone extinct?. What kind of supreme being makes that much trial and error and has to just about start over from scratch each time?  Then there is the brutal fight for survival among many of "the good Lord's" creatures "Nature red in tooth and claw" as Tennyson put it which conflicts with the religious belief of God's love for all living things. 

Probably the easiest way for"hybrids" to deal with these contradictions between theism and science is compartmentalization, this case the mental division of religious faith and systematically acquired knowledge into separate methods of thought processing.. Another tack, which is the one that I took  when I was a theist but still also pro-science,  is to consider  God as the ultimate source of  scientific explanations, e.g. God created evolution. This is akin to the attributing God as the first cause of nature as discussed above but refining it to accommodate scientific theory as well. .

But in the end these ruses  are mere denial of the elephants of reality and logic in the middle of the room. In the matter of natural selection for example why would God go through all that time and trouble to develop man when he could have created all life forms that now exist including humans on the spot instead of over billions of years?

In short no matter how religious believers including theistic scientists may try to assert that a supreme being  is the final cause of the universe's existence, they have no evidence to support their claim. And  although religious leaders may make scientific sounding statements that are really only half-hearted and half informed, there's no substitution for critical thinking, and the application of the scientific method in understanding the natural world. To date this objective procedure has found absolutely no evidence of a heavenly creator, and  it's highly unlikely that it ever will.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Threat To Enlightened Judaism in the U.S.

I recently came across a post "Bad for Jews, Bad for America" by Sandy Goodman. The premise of the article is that Jewish life in the U.S. is being pulled in two different directions: toward complete assimilation and disappearance through intermarriage on one hand, and Ultra-Orthodox extremism on the other with the middle of the road  (Reform, and  Conservative)  movements coming apart at the seams.
As a secular Jew, I have to say if this alleged tug of war is the case and that it will continue to the bitter end, then sadly, it would be better that Jewish life in America fade away altogether than fall completely into the clutches of the ultra-Orthodox fanatics who instead of moderating their beliefs  are becoming more rigid with the passing years to the point that they would extinguish the lamp of Haskala (the Jewish enlightenment and its gains)  and turn Jewish life into an oppressive counterpart of  that under Islamic Shari'a law. (BTW this fanaticism isn't confined to the U.S. There's a Chasidic sect in London that wants to prohibit its women members from driving. Shades of Saudi Arabia.)

Further, according to the article,  the benighted  "ultras" may win out in the U.S. just by sheer numbers as they do not believe in contraception and consequently have large families that often include 7 or 8 children(!)  But the main issue is that Ultra-Orthodox  culture is characterized by anti-intellectualism, male dominance,  unemployment, and a  society that tries to shut itself off from outside contact or influence. This life-style is one reason that as I indicated in my post "Change the Channel"  it's self-defeating for rational Jews to offer any type of support to the likes of these reactionaries.
Anyway, I don't think that the future for Jewish life in America has to necessarily turn out the way Goodman claims it will.  Secular Judaism in America is not without its own resources. For example there are organizations such as the Society for Humanistic Judaism that have long supported Jewish continuity but without the trappings (and the trap) of theism. Further, leaders of the MOR branches of Judaism are sensible, and if there is a decline at present in maintaining synagogue membership, I think they will find a solution. Moreover, Mainstream  American Jews, whether observant or secular, have traditionally have opted for the exercise of reason and a quality life style. And if they fully realize what's at stake, I don't think that  they will  go quietly into that dark night of dominance by the ultra-Orthodox.

Goodman has done a service by pointing out that there is a  struggle, but in the end I think that Jewish progressivism can prevail in America, especially if we consider that the alternative outcome of a Jewish Dark Ages is not acceptable and is one for which  the moderate wings have a huge incentive for working together  to  prevent from happening. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fault Lines: The Blame Game And The "Draw Mohammed" Contest

As a political progressive, I don't often agree with the likes of Pamela Geller, the organizer of the May 3 "Draw Mohammed" cartoon contest and exhibit in Garland, TX.  Geller is confrontational and abrasive. But nothing she did justifies the Islamic terrorist attack on that event in which both assailants were killed before they could enter the building. As she pointed out in a debate with hate-inciting Muslim cleric Anjem Choudar, followers of that religion have no right to try to impose Shari'a law,  including (especially) the prohibition against creating images of Islam's founder, on others.

I also appreciate the way that Geller put Chouder along with his advocacy of Islamic extremism in his place with clever rejoinders to his vicious accusations against both her and Western culture.   The debate itself  was hosted  by Sean Hannity who not unexpectedly  was not an impartial moderator.  He also roundly condemned Chouder for his atrocious views.

There are those who contend that Geller deliberately provoked the Garland shootout by organizing the Draw Mohammed occasion in the first place. But that assertion  misses Geller's point, which is that  Islam is unique among the world's major religions  in that its response to censure and refusal by non-Muslims to follow its dictates is murderous violence. In fact,  Geller herself is the target of a fatwa- an Islamic order for her execution. What other significant belief (or non-belief)  system imposes such penalties for blasphemy, especially against outsiders?

In short those who would pin the blame on Geller  for the deadly confrontation that happened in Garland should instead put it squarely where it belongs: on radical Islam and its adherents. And at least the outcome was that there are now two fewer Muslim threats in the world for us "infidels" to have to worry about.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Relativism of Religion

In almost all  religions, especially theistic ones, often a faction of believers take what is described as an extremist position that supposedly differs from that held by the moderate mainstream membersor what outsiders are told by apologists is the mainstreamespecially when the dissenters verbally disrespect or commit an act of violence against "infidels". When such divisions occur, these extremists are sometimes accused of hijacking or distorting the message of those religions. Recently, President Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah both denounced ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) as a fanatical organization that does not really represent Islam. And Abdullah's wife, Queen Rania, has gone so far as to advocate dropping the letter "I" for Islamic when referring  to ISIS' for that same reason.

But IMO, the hijacking accusation misses the point and is irrelevant.  To begin with, there is the matter of relativism:.  There is no objective standard for determining the claim of validity for any god-based religion's "true" tenets and doctrines. On March 7, there was a commemoration ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday",  a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama whose participants were viciously attacked by white law enforcers who were upholding a then legal system of racial segregation against black Americans that was prevalent throughout the South at that time.  These white Christians and the culture that they represented  justified their long standing rabid opposition to racial integration on their interpretation of the bible as their antebellum forebears did to support the institution of black slavery.

However, the   overwhelming majority of blacks in the South have also been Christians since that era as the result of this belief being imposed on them by their masters and since then had long submitted to and suffered under white supremacy. This changed when civil rights leaders exemplified by Martin Luther King, a  Christian minister, finally used the same bible to strike back at segregation and discrimination and to demand an end to these unjust legal and social barriers. In short, each side took their respective courses of action firmly convinced that they were doing so with God's blessings.


Almost every theology claims to be divinely inspired and is dismissive of other nonconforming dogmas as heresy. Yet the contents of almost all holy books are open to a gazillion interpretations and are published in various versions, none of whose followers, however, try to  back up any of them as correct or true based on any verifiable data and sound reasoning. Instead, the understanding and acceptance of the meaning of these
texts are filtered through the believers' personal or group perspective which is entirely subjective, and whose faith in which can become unwavering: "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." Further, if there are enough of these individuals who share a like-minded creed that differs from their majority follower counterparts, their  radical belief of today  may become tomorrow's establishment-accepted religion. But in time some of the worshipers of that congregation will also become spiritually restless and will splinter off to form yet a new congregation, ad infinitum. 

In contrast to these religious scripture with their often vague wording and with the sometimes bitter and even violent disputes among their followers as to which is the "right" meaning, all that's ever really been required to be an atheist is merely non-belief in a supreme being, or at least a conviction  that there is no proof for the existence of one.  And for those nonbelievers who live a moral life, doing so without the need of a supernatural coercion  or contradictory and confusing texts is the simplest and most logical choice to living and importantly a non-relativistic one as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pope Francis' Words of (Dis)comfort

It would not  be a surprise that if in nine months, there's a spike in the number of births in the Philippines, thanks to Pope Francis' overall reaffirmation of the Catholic Church's stand against family planning via the use of artificial contraceptives. Although he acknowledged that Catholics "should not breed like rabbits", he advocated that couples use such undependable birth control methods as "natural" family planning,(more popularly  known as Vatican roulette for obvious reasons). The Pope made these pronouncements during and following his just completed visit to this predominantly Roman Catholic country where he is extremely popular and his millions of followers hang on his every word. So those Filipinos who have been using  or considered using reliable artificial contraceptives, which are more reliable for pregnancy prevention, might now cease to do so.

This is despite the fact that the Philippines is poverty ridden and very overpopulated. For example there are over a million street children throughout the country. In Metro-Manila, there are  thousands of these kids some as young as three years old(I have seen them myself) who have been abandoned by their families and left to fend for themselves. There is a government Department of Social Services, but that bureau can only do so much.

So why are there no Catholic orphanages to get these kids off the streets?  In fact at a rally for the Pope, a former street child who was fortunate enough to have been rescued even asked the him directly why God allows such a fate of  homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution to befall theses kids. Francis'  response was one of double-talk and evasion, saying that there is no answer, and by golly the people should know how to feel pity for these children. But he didn't say one word about getting the Church to actively help these unfortunates by utilizing its immense wealth towards this end. For example in the Philippines, the Church owns shares in such companies as a local bank, a mining company,  and major real estate developers. The Archdiocese of Manila itself is also well off, and Cardinal Antonio Tagle who heads this Archdiocese is also a major investor in the above mentioned bank.  So one can only conclude that this institution doesn't really care about homeless children. Otherwise it could build enough shelters to take them all in.   Evidently, the Catholic Church which claims to be pro-life in its opposition to abortion loves fetuses, but once they're born, they're on their own.

To make matters worse, half the population in the Philippines is under age than 23 years of age, and one in 10 women between age 15 through 19 are already mothers or are pregnant with their first child.   Unless the recently passed Reproductive Health Act, which was recently implemented in the Philippines after a 15 year struggle in Congress and vehemently opposed by the local Catholic hierarchy, and by the Pope as well, starts making a dent in these demographics,  imagine how the number of births will explode in a society that already can't  take care of its people.  BTW, while in Manila, it so happened that the Pope was hosted by Cardinal  Tagle, one of the RH measure's fiercest opponents, Well, birds of a feather and all that.

The irony--or the failure to connect on Pope Francis' part--is that he has also expressed concern about the need to protect the environment and about global warming. But one of the biggest causes  or at least a major factors of environmental degradation and climate change is overpopulation.  Natural resources in the Philippines such as forests and rivers are being depleted because conservation which is given lip service is ultimately not a priority here. The main reason for deforestation, for example, is that there are too many people chasing too few means of food and shelter.

The Pope comes across as a compassionate prelate. But at the end of the day, he's just another brick in the wall against rational thinking and family planning in the Philippines. He  is gone now, but the demographic and resulting socioeconomic problems that his words may well have aggravated will remain indefinitely.