17 March 2010

The bads about not being a Catholic

Recently, a weird phenomenon happens to a couple of my girlfriends. They suddenly converted to Catholicism with no early signs of being religious. They apparently did the you-know-what forbidden but enjoyable deed long ago. And within six months of their conversion, coincidentally, they end up exchanging vows with their fiancé before a big wooden cross hanging in a glass-laden high-ceiling greenhouse called church. The wedding scene is so sacred and beautiful that I always remember to shed some tears.

Admittedly, part of the tears are shed for the fact that I’m not going to get wed in a church, not like what the princesses did in fairy tales or what Dustin Hoffman tried to interrupt in The Graduate.

My jealousy is doubled by the fact that my newly Catholic girlfriends are married to sons from well-to-do Catholic families, one of them a doctor, the other a lawyer, then an heir to a family business. No matter how education and feminism tell us women to be independent and have it all, the talent of equating forever love with financial security (reads riches for high maintenance women) is still deeply rooted in our genes.

That enlightens me to think why Catholicism and Christianity can flourish like mad, in a manner that Buddhism, which doesn’t condemn non-believers to hell, or Taoism, which in its ancient classics promotes sex as a key to balance of life, can’t compete. One of the truths is simply this: Christianity lures people, including well-informed adults, to succumb to its system with self-interest as bait.

Sure, the Church teaches people to love their non-genetic brothers and sisters, which nurtures humans’ nature of wanting to do good, at the same time, the brothers and sisters provide free labour and valuable connections, not to mention a powerful support group that keeps you from evil temptations, such as a potential mistress or sex with no strings. It points you direct to goodness and love, without the need of free thinking from your side, saving you the effort of going astray and doubting yourself.

That’s why Catholics become such a privileged group where members can mutually benefit each other. They are much more united than the pan-democrats and much more capable of absorbing new members.

You may wonder, why then, didn’t I join the league of Donald Tsang to become a devout Catholic? The answer is just that I can’t fuck without a condom (and blame the pill for giving me low libido). I was told by a Catholic that they can use all kinds of contraception except the barrier method. It is deemed artificial, while fucking when not ovulating or withdrawal in time sound more “natural”, or in their terms, to the will of God.

If all Catholics strictly comply with the pre-marital sex ban, have sex only with their legitimate spouse and never remarry , I suppose STDs would not be a concern and any barriers can therefore be out of the picture. Sadly, in reality, the case doesn’t apply to mortals like me. In fact, the idea itself scares me to hell already.


  1. You make good points about the non-magical benefits of religion (like social connections, support structures, etc.)

    But in your quest to figure out why Catholicism is so popular, you forget about the great Catholic loophole: confession. Catholics have been responsible for some of the worst atrocities in human history, and I seriously doubt that they are anymore faithful to their spouses than the rest of us. But confession can absolve Catholics of all their sins, no matter how serious. Catholicism offers more than just scare tactics. It's not hard to see why it's such a popular religion with powerful people.

  2. Thanks for the good perspective! The confession thingy is indeed a big selling point. Mortals like me only discipline ourselves with guilt and guilt kills me like hell. Life would be so much easier with the confession device, the effective painkiller.

    In fact I have difficulty in figuring out why Catholics are more aristocratic than Christians. Guess that it's from its historical origin. (And my only source of knowledge is Da Vinci Code :P)

  3. Wesley, like your observation there!

    Bambi, since when Da Vinci Code became history textbook?

  4. At least it's more widely read by young people and I learn more from it than official texbooks.

    To provide you with more authority, I also acquire my history knowledge from the Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Disney version) :P :P

  5. Okie, The Day After Tomorrow is one of my favourite climate change documentaries, LOL.

  6. Intellectual laziness is probably one of the strongest driving forces for religions like Catholicism and Christianity.

    But if we scrutinise them closely, most of the teachings don't do us any good. The fact that having a strong supporting group destroys our self-reliance and promote self-pity. And if you survey the history of any war of religions, you will be driven to the conclusion that it doesn't promote love and goodness. On the contrary, it inspires fear, jealousy, hatred, intolerance, and contempt. To direct ourselves towards goodness and love without the effort of thinking clearly may be a good thing, but allowing yourself to think inexactly, many bias, taboos, and prejudices may come in many ways unnoticed.

    All these benefits of religion sound nonsense to me and they don't necessarily have to built on the ground of religions.

    Yes, confession is probably a good thing to get away from what you have done easily, but it seems to me there are so many things that we do in our life don't require confession at all!


  7. As someone who believes in evolution, I think religion, like all other aspects of culture that seem to have a genetic component, must be adaptive at some level. If it did nothing but hurt people, it wouldn't exist. Religions seem to work well when they're adapted to specific environments. Early Christianity evolved in multi-ethnic cities during the Roman Empire, and at the time it probably gave those early Christians competitive advantages (by fostering in-group cooperation and out-group competition) over other groups whose religions have been lost to history. Judaism also provided a competitive advantage in this environment, and Christianity evolved out of Judaism, with a very important new adaptation--encouraging new converts. Christianity was part of the cultural package that allowed Western Europeans to first develop advanced societies, and then to develop the administrative, military and economic structures that allowed them to colonize much of the world. Inspiring fear, hatred and contempt may be very useful when your ethnic group is involved in a competition for resources with another ethnic group.

    Suicide bombing, whatever you think of it from a moral standpoint, is an effective military tactic, and one that would not be possible without religion (in this case, Islam). It may not be good for the bomber himself, but his family and ethnic group (and therefore his genes) may still benefit from his death if that death makes a foreign occupier more likely to go back home.

  8. Thank you mates for putting me to shame with this intellectual conversation. (These comments should have been put as new blog entries! What a waste!)

    While Christianity and Islam inspire compeitition and blood, the peace-loving Buddhism only inspires Zen-style decoration. Apparently, the interest of defending one's genes is more appealing than the pleasure of letting go one's ego.

  9. The latest comment by Bambi is the best comment of today: a new blog entry.


  10. Wesley,

    I agree that natural selection is still the prime mover of everything and I agree that religion does have an utility. Religion is certainly a great tool for achieving those ends. But as science has become more advanced nowadays, the role of religion is much less important and we usually move on for secular reasons rather than religious reasons. It comes the time when counter-evolution is no longer impossible and we can liberate ourselves from the tyranny of our genes. I am not saying we can get away with the evolutionary mechanism, but we can get least get away from this genetic determinism. Moreover, our genes are constantly evolving dependin on the environment. But you are right, religion is still advantageous in the Darwinian sense.

    Christianity has certainly been a part of the cultural heritage of the western civilisation. But it remains important only as a culture, but not a religion. After all, there is no harm in celebrating Easter and Christmas.


    The peace-loving Buddhism can be seen as a genes-defending mechanism by the way because it's peace-loving!



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