and then I promise to shut up about Lourdes. Until next time I visit Lourdes. ;^)
One positive thing I saw at the convent was that they specifically listed bringing a message of peace to Muslims and to Protestants (on a huge poster illustrating the goals of their religious order). I'm not up on all of the latest world religion news, but I get the impression that the current pope isn't as big on cross-faith friendship and understanding as the previous one was. But fortunately it looks like at least some sub-organizations of the Catholic church have put interfaith peace on their priority list.
When I saw this poster, I felt a little left-out at first. Why just make peace with Muslims and Protestants? Why not atheists too? Then it hit me that they've probably decided to focus their message on groups the Catholics tend to go to war against.
The closest thing I saw to a mention of atheism during my whole visit was one book in the convent bookstore: Dieu Versus Darwin [God vs. Darwin]. With a title like that, I could easily guess who wins according to the book (even if I hadn't seen it in a religious bookshop). After all, Darwin set out to explain a natural process, not to pick fights with people or supernatural beings. The title kind of reminds me of the Jehovah's Witness anti-evolution book: Life -- How Did it Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?. That book occupies a place of honor in the religion section of my bookshelf -- it's cover-to-cover one of the most hilarious books ever written. It's also a great resource to have on hand in case you're discussing creationism with religious friends and they try to make claims like "real creationists' arguments aren't that stupid..."
Anyway, back to Dieu Versus Darwin: sheesh, that's not a fair fight at all. If we suppose that God is omnipotent, what's He doing challenging a mere mortal? Can't He pick on somebody His own size?
On the other hand if we suppose that God doesn't exist, it's still not a fair fight (since Darwin actually existed). Now that Darwin is dead I guess that evens out the odds a little. the smart money's still on Darwin, though...