In high school we had a bonus question in one of our Chemistry exams that went something like this: During the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, when it turns into the body of Christ, is that change physical or chemical? Seriously.
The answer of course, is neither. The host is not physically or chemically altered in any way. Transubstantiation is trickier than that and is beyond the ambit of Chemistry. So my answer was something like: Neither. It is a symbolic change.
Which earned me full marks and convinced me that my brilliant Chem teacher (who passed away a few weeks after that exam) wasn't really a religious kook. It was a trick question since anyone who said that the host physically or chemically changed into flesh was wrong.
And that's why I find the case of Webster Cook so baffling.
The kid went to Mass, took communion in his hands, and kept the host for his non-Catholic friend to see. He was accosted by other people in the church, was physically assaulted and threatened. He then returned the wafer (in a ziploc bag) but still has problems with campus authorities and people accusing him of "hate crimes." (Persecution complex, much?)
Then PZ Myers writes about it in his usual sarcastic manner and all hell explodes. Bill Donohue exhorts his Catholic League to write to Myers's boss at the University of Minnesota to have him fired for hate speech. Which his lemmings -- few of whom have read Myers's' blog before and are only dimly aware of the facts of the case -- did in droves.
Myers (and then Dawkins, after) then tells his pharynguloids to send letters of support just to see how his university president would react (he's tenured so he needn't worry). Now they're breaking the internet and setting a world record on blog comments (6,500 and going on a single topic).
It's not about desecrating the host (which PZ threatened to do), it's about the overreaction over what in reality is just a piece of bread. All by Christians who supposedly follow the rule set by their founder, "love thy neighbor." At worst Cook pulled a tasteless prank, but threatening his life over it is just crazy. Myers was just being his usual self (and maybe trying to take heat away from the boy) and threatening his life over it is way over the top.
Blasphemy is not a crime, it's a quaint leftover of the times when we really believed in gods and that these gods actually cared what we lower beings thought. It's a reminder that religion was developed and used to explain things (it's since been supplanted by science and philosophy) and control the populace (still in effect).
Which leads me to this statement by Philippine bishops, saying they'd deny communion to "anti-life" politicians.
Cool. They legally have the right to enforce the rules of their organization. Don't any of these politicians (who listened to experts and to their constituents ) pander to them in any way. They're relics of a bygone age.