Everywhere I look, Pope Francis, the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, seems to be in the news—and he is being positively portrayed as a genuinely progressive leader. Frankly, this baffles me. Few major religions have as backwards a philosophical and moral platform as Catholicism. Therefore, no leader of it could actually be genuinely progressive. Yet, no one seems to pay attention to this—no one seems to be discussing that Catholicism remains highly oppressive.
To even discuss how many archaic positions the Pope and Catholicism support would take volumes. But the one that irks me the most is that Pope Francis and his church are still broadly against condoms and contraceptives. Putting aside that this view is terribly anti-environmental, with over 175 million Catholics in Africa, it's quite possible that this position may also create more AIDS deaths in Africa.
While former Pope Benedict XVI did say in late 2010 that condoms could be used in some cases to prevent disease, anything less than 100 percent endorsement of them seems malicious and criminal, which is something I've argued before.
The Transhumanist Bill of Rights I'll be delivering next month to the US Capitol on my Immortality Bus tour will mandate that cultural and religious views should never trump life extension technologies—of which the condom is one of the greatest ones ever invented.
Beyond contraceptives, just because Pope Francis is good at making general sweeping humanitarian claims in popular speeches around the world, we forget that he and his church are guilty of many basic human rights violations. For example, he is against gay marriage, he only will allow males to pursue the vocation of priesthood, and he is against women having control over their bodies when it comes to abortion. He even believes in and accepts hell for nonbelievers. In case you're wondering, that means millions of America's children will eventually end up being endlessly tortured in some psychotic afterlife, since reports show nearly a third of America's youth are basically godless. Europe is in for a much worse time—the Brits and French are about half nonreligious.
While I too appreciate the new Pope is more progressive than his predecessors, why are we celebrating that instead of criticizing him for what he truly is: a leader trying to keep his flock from deserting him and joining the 21st century? Simply put, Catholicism and the Papal institution are inevitably dying out. Despite population growth, Catholic numbers are withering in the West. This is because modern values, transhumanist technology, and the embrace of reason are making many Catholic rules and rituals absurd. To survive, the church knows it must interject amended ideas to keep its tight hold over its billion-plus believers.
Instead of trying to overcoming all hardship with science and technology, I was told to get on my knees
As "hip and cool" as the leadership of the new Pope is, don't for a moment believe he can go against the literal interpretation of the Bible and undo all its contradictions and hypocrisies. Catholics—along with Christians and Muslims—have locked themselves and their religious rules into their sacred texts and its meanings. And that will be their downfall, since no rational person can justify such backwards biblical rules or perspectives, such as that evolution is hoax.
In the 21st century—in the age of cochlear implants for the deaf, exoskeleton suits for the wheelchair-bound, and mind-controlled artificial limbs for wounded war veterans—it's becoming increasingly difficult to fake reality anymore. Science and technology are becoming too obvious and powerful. And, honestly, why should we fake reality and believe in concocted fairy tales anymore with irrational, unproven faith-inspired beliefs? Is it really necessary to be so fundamental anymore—so closed-minded? Must we really be baptized to make it into heaven? Is the sacrament of taking the so-called body of Jesus really going to save us from eternal punishment? Is it really a sin to have same-sex relations and enjoy ourselves?
I went to Catholic school in my childhood, and know firsthand what scarring it can do to a young mind searching for guidance. Instead of the scientific method, I was taught to be guilty of sin. Instead of logic, I was taught to hold faith over knowledge. Instead of trying to overcoming all hardship with science and technology, I was told to get on my knees and believe suffering was my God-given lot in life. How asinine. Of course, that's hardly more crazy then being taught the Pope is infallible, another classic Catholic teaching.
I'm running for the United States presidency in 2016 as an atheist. One of the core ideas of my candidacy is that I know that those who are godless can also be morally good—that they can be deeply humanitarian and democratic. Some people believe atheists have no moral compass. That's ridiculous. Atheists are guided by reason, and reason leads us to build robotic eyes for the blind, vaccines against disease for homeless children, and new forms of cheap power so the poor can have light and electricity. Reason is precisely what the world needs more of to build a better future, not archaic ideas by a dogmatic religion known for The Inquisition and child molestation.
Some are claiming the Pope is the new global spiritual leader. I caution against believing this or supporting him. He is just the newest tool in a religion that has caused irreparable damage to the human race, and continues to do so with oppressive ideologies. Pope Francis knows that the world is changing into a secular sphere, prompted by transhumanist science that aims to empower us into a far more powerful species—in fact, to become godlike. To have their religions survive, the Pope and other religious leaders will say anything to get its followers to hold on to their outdated beliefs.
The good news is the Pope and other religious leaders will not remain popular leaders long—certainly not into the next century. With nearly a billion nonreligious people around the world expanding their numbers, the end of worldwide domination of our species via religion is now in sight.
Zoltan Istvan is a futurist, author of The Transhumanist Wager, and presidential candidate for the Transhumanist Party. He writes an occasional column for Motherboard in which he ruminates on the future beyond natural human ability.