Category Archives: Apologetics

Reincarnation?

-from Catholic Answers 20 Answers: Death & Judgment

“Reincarnation, which literally means “to be made flesh again,” is the belief that after death the soul lives on in another body. The soul might inhabit a similar body (e.g., a man’s soul enters another man’s body) or even a radically dissimilar body (e.g., a man’s soul enters a frog’s body). Regardless of what form reincarnation takes, the Catechism states:

Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When “the single course of our earthly life” is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: “It is appointed for men to die once” (Heb. 9:27). There is no “reincarnation” after death (CCC 1013).

In the third century, Origen said reincarnation was “foreign to the church of God, and not handed down by the Apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the Scriptures.” There are several arguments that support the Church’s rejection of reincarnation. First, in the fourth century St. Ambrose of Milan wrote that it would be impossible that “the soul which rules man should take on itself the nature of a beast so opposed to that of man,” or that man, “being capable of reason should be able to pass over to an irrational animal.” In other words, the migration of souls between human and animals is as impossible as the procreation of bodies between humans and animals.

Second, humans do not behave as if they possessed souls that lived before the birth of their body. The third-century ecclesial writer Tertullian put it this way:

If souls depart at different ages of human life, how is it that they come back again at one uniform age? For all men are imbued with an infant soul at their birth. But how happens it that a man who dies in old age returns to life as an infant? . . .  I ask, then, how the same souls are resumed, which can offer no proof of their identity, either by their disposition, or habits, or living?

The absence of animals and infants who act like mature adults is evidence against the theory of reincarnation. Of course, a defender of reincarnation could say that while a person’s soul inhabits a new body, his memories and personality do not. But this makes reincarnation the practical equivalent of not surviving death. It also begs the question; as St. Irenaeus argued in the second century, “If we don’t remember anything before our conception, then how do advocates of reincarnation know we’ve all been reincarnated?”

Other defenders of reincarnation offer empirical evidence in the form of “past-lives” testimony. These testimonies, such as those gathered among children by the late psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, are not convincing. For example, many of the subjects of Stevenson’s interviews were children who lived in places like India, where reincarnation is widely accepted. This means that their stories were more likely the products of social conditioning than actual memories of past lives.

Moreover, although the children in these studies were not thought to be capable of deceiving interviewers, they were capable of confusing fantasy with reality  (e.g., telling stories about imaginary friends or imaginary adventures). In fact, many of the anecdotes Stevenson shares rely on ambiguous details that are better explained by a child’s imperfect grasp of reality. Skeptic Robert Carroll offers the following example:

One case involved an Idaho girl who at age 2 would point to photographs of her sister, dead from a car accident three years before she was born, and say “that was me.” The believer thinks the two-year-old meant: “I was my sister in a previous life.” The skeptic thinks she meant: “That’s a picture of me.” The skeptic sees the two-year-old as making a mistake. The believer sees her as trying to communicate a message about reincarnation.

There is also a third argument against reincarnation, one that has been called “the population argument.” It relies on the claim made by proponents of reincarnation that new souls are never created or destroyed. Instead, souls are only “reborn” into other bodies. But, in Tertullian’s words, “If the living come from the dead, just as the dead proceed from the living, then there must always remain unchanged one and the selfsame number of mankind.” He noted (and modern science has confirmed) that there has been a “gradual growth of [the human] population.” This growth can only be explained by new souls coming into existence, and conflicts with the notion of the perpetual reincarnation of the same souls into different bodies.

Finally, scientists agree that life on earth began—at the earliest—billions of years ago. This disproves the idea that souls have been reincarnating into physical bodies for all eternity. As the Catechism says, “The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God—it is not ‘produced’ by the parents—and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection” (CCC 366).”

Love,
Matthew

Penance?


-The reproach of Nathan and the penance of King David (Paris Psalter, folio 136v, 10th century). (Please click on the image for greater detail.)

-from Catholic Answers “20 Answers: Salvation

“The value of Christ’s self-offering on the cross was infinite—more than enough to pay for all the sins of mankind. But it seems that, even after God has forgiven the eternal consequences of our sins and restored our relationship with Him, He wants us to experience some negative consequences.

It’s rather like the situation in a family. When a child misbehaves, there need to be consequences. If parents simply told the child that he’s forgiven and never applied any discipline then the child would never learn his lesson. That’s why children hear their parents say things like, “It’s okay. I forgive you. But you’re still grounded.”

The Bible uses the image of parental discipline to express how God relates to us as his children. The book of Hebrews tells us that “the Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). It also tells us that he “disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10).

So even when we’ve become children of God and been forgiven, God still disciplines us. He allows us to experience some consequences for our sins so that we may grow in holiness.

That’s why we do penance. It’s a way of embracing discipline, of learning to do it, to internalize it, and it builds strength and self-control for the future. If we learn how to say no to ourselves as part of penance, we’ll be better able to say no to temptations in the future.

The idea that Christians shouldn’t do penance because Christ died for their sins is not found in the Bible. In fact, Christ Himself expected us to do penance.

At one point, Jesus was asked why His disciples did not fast—fasting being a form of penance—and He said that they would in the future. He compared Himself to the bridegroom at a wedding and His disciples to the wedding guests. Jesus pointed out that it’s not appropriate to fast at a wedding celebration, but He went on to say, “The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day” (Mark 2:20).

He expected fasting, and thus penance, to be a regular part of Christian practice. That’s why, in the Sermon on the Mount, He told the disciples, “when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites” (Matt. 6:16).

Notice that He doesn’t say, “if you fast” but “when you fast.” He expects us to fast, and He gives instructions on how to do it.

In the book of Acts, we see the early Christians putting this into practice. St. Paul’s commission to missionary work occurred after he and other church leaders “were worshiping the Lord and fasting” (Acts 13:2), and later Paul appointed elders “in every church, with prayer and fasting” (Acts 14:23).

Fasting is also mentioned in early Christian writings outside the New Testament. For example, the Didache indicates that it was common for first-century Christians to fast twice a week. The Didache states, “And let not your fastings be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and the fifth day of the week [i.e., Monday and Thursday]; but keep your fast on the fourth and on the preparation day [i.e., Wednesday and Friday]” (Didache 8:1-2).

By voluntarily embracing fasting and other forms of penance, we embrace spiritual discipline that will, as the book of Hebrews says, help us grow in holiness. And that’s one of the reasons why, even though Christ died for us, we still do penance.

Penance also provides us with an opportunity to express sorrow for our sins. We have an innate need to mourn when something tragic has occurred, and that includes our own sins.

The fact that we have been forgiven does not remove this need to mourn any more than the fact that a man’s wife may be in heaven means that he doesn’t need to mourn her death.

Both sin and death are tragedies, and while forgiveness and salvation mean that they do not have the last word, we still need to grieve. To insist that a person not feel or show any grief for them would be unnatural, and would short-circuit natural responses that God built into us. There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Eccles. 3:4).”

Love, my favorite penance is PATIENCE!!!!  ARRRRGH!!!!!! & HOLDING MY TONGUE!!!!!  ARRRGH!!!! 🙁
Matthew

“Chreasters”, C&Es, CEO=Christmas/Easter Only, Holiday Catholics, The Third Commandment, & Easter Duty

Mara just, by requirement of the Diocese of Madison for all her age in Catholic schools in the diocese, had an examination on the Ten Commandments. Kelly & I tutored. She got a perfect score. There are standards in this household. There are standards.

-by Noble Kuriakose, Pew Research Center

“Priests and ministers have long noted a sharp increase in church attendance around the two most significant Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter. Some have given those who attend services only at those times of year a name — “Chreasters” — and churches have launched campaigns to get them to attend more regularly.

Google searches for “church” spike during Easter and Christmas seasons. More Americans search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. Google’s Trends tool measures the popularity of a search term relative to all searches in the United States. Data are reported on a scale from 0 to 100.

Easter is Christianity’s oldest and most important holiday, during which Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection three days after he was crucified. In liturgical terms, Easter Sunday is a moveable feast. Its observance, which comes at the end of a 40-day period of penance, fasting and self-examination called Lent, changes within a range of time each spring. Between 2004 and 2013, Easter was in March three times and April seven times.

In 2013, the highest share of searches for “church” are on the week of Easter Sunday, followed by the week of Christmas and the week of Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent; Mother’s Day is next, and Father’s Day is near the bottom.

The lowest share of searches occur on the week of Thanksgiving in November each year, and the summer months have consistently low levels of interest in web searches for “church.” Sociologists also have previously reported low levels of church attendance during the summer months. Laurence Iannaccone and Sean Everton analyzed weekly attendance records from churches and argued that people are less likely to attend church when the weather outside is just right in a journal article titled “Never on Sunny Days.”

The Precepts of the Church – Catechism of the Catholic Church

Before going further, it is important to note what the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us about Catholic Mass attendance.

The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.

The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.

The third precept (“You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. (CCC 2042)

The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”

The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (CCC. 2180 and 2181)

The Code of Canon Law, the legal code of Christ’s Church, states:

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to assist at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body.

The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a Catholic rite either on a holy day itself or on the evening of the previous day. (Can 1247, 1248)

Both the code of Canon Law and the Catechism clearly state the obligation. There was some general teaching prior to Vatican II that one had to be present for the offertory through reception of Holy Communion to fulfill the obligation. However this is not a part of the canon and the faithful are to participate in the complete Mass in order to fulfill the Sunday obligation.

Praying for strength for you & I, when we least feel like going to Mass. It happens. Offer it up, as we work out our salvation in fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12)

Love,
Matthew

Sola fides? Why is reason important? Faith & Reason

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“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” -Hamlet, I.v.

“Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam.”, “I do not understand in order to believe, rather I believe in order to understand.” – St Anselm

tomvmorris
-by Dr. Thomas V. Morris, PhD, Tom served for fifteen years as a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, where he quickly became a campus legend, in many years having an eighth of the entire student body in his classes.

“Truth is our tie to the world. Believing a truth, or stating a truth, is like hitting a target. Falsehood misses the mark. Truth anchors us to reality. Falsehood cuts our connection to the way things really are. We need truth like we need air, or food, or water. Falsehood, by contrast, kills.

The complete definition of knowledge

One necessary condition for knowledge is belief. (See the earlier section “Our Beliefs about Belief.”) A second is truth. (Laid out in the preceding section.) Knowledge is built on true belief. But these two conditions are not alone sufficient for knowledge. I can believe something, and my belief can be true without my actually knowing the thing believed.”(1)

“Luck never made a man wise.” — Seneca

“Philosophers insist that, in order for a state of belief to qualify as knowledge, there must be a link, a connection, a tie between the mental state of affirmation and the state of reality, which makes that affirmation true. Furthermore, this link must be of the right sort to properly justify my having that belief.”(2)

Famous Last Words: truth & reality matter!!!

“Don’t worry. It’s not loaded.”
“I’m sober enough.”
“What does this button do?”
“Are you sure the power is off?”
“The odds of that happening have to be a million to one!”
“I’ll hold it and you light the fuse.”
“You worry too much!”
“Txting & driving r not safe!!! Lol.”
“Brexit will fail!”
“Trump’s finished now!”
“Of course the Colombian people will vote for peace!”

“There is an absolute difference between truth and falsehood. And it matters!

Knowledge is properly justified true belief.

We live in a world of irrational beliefs. People believe all sorts of crazy things. Have you ever bought a tabloid newspaper at the checkout lane in a grocery store, and actually read the articles? Okay, you don’t have to answer that. But have you watched other people buy these papers? They don’t always seem to be doing it as a joke. There seems to be no limit to what some people can believe. In fact, it has often been observed that there is a strong tendency in human life for people to believe what they want to believe, whether those beliefs are even remotely rational or not.

Here is the problem. Irrational belief is belief without a reliable tie to truth. Therefore, irrational belief can be dangerous belief. Our natural tendency to believe is like our natural tendency to eat or drink. Not everything you come across is safe to eat. Not every liquid you find is safe to drink. Likewise, not every proposition that comes your way is safe to believe. Our eating and drinking should be subject to the guidance of our beliefs. And that is even more reason for our beliefs to be subject to reason.

We want to be reasonable people because reason can connect us to truth. We value rationality as a reliable road to truth, and thus to knowledge. But what is reason? What is rationality? And why exactly should we think it’s important in our ongoing quest for truth in this world?

Human reason is just the power (Ed. THAT GOD GAVE US!!! AND, APPARENTLY INTENDS US TO USE, LIFE & REALITY WOULD SUGGEST!!!!) we have to organize and interpret our experience of the world (what we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, or sense in any other way), as well as the ability to draw reliable conclusions that move beyond the confines of immediate experience. It is also the power to govern our actions and expectations in such a way that they make sense, given all the realities with which we have to do.”(3)

Love & reason,
Matthew

(1) Morris, Tom (2011-03-10). Philosophy For Dummies (Kindle Locations 986-991). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

(2) Morris, Tom (2011-03-10). Philosophy For Dummies (Kindle Locations 997-999). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

(3) Morris, Tom (2011-03-10). Philosophy For Dummies (Kindle Locations 1005, 1015-1025). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Sola Scriptura? Protestant versions of the Bible are missing seven entire books

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joel_peters
-by Joel Peters

“Much to their chagrin, Protestants are actually guilty of violating their own doctrine. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura prohibits anyone from adding to or deleting from the Bible, but Protestants have, in fact, deleted seven entire books from the Old Testament, as well as portions of two others. The books in question, which are wrongly termed “the Apocrypha” (“not authentic”) by Protestants, are called the “deuterocanonical” (“second canon”) books by Catholics: they are Tobias (Tobit), Judith, 1 and 2 Machabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach), and Baruch. Portions of Daniel and Esther are also missing.

In defense of their deficient Old Testament canon, Protestants invariably present one or more of the following arguments: 1) the shorter, Pharisaic (or Palestinian) canon (39) of the Old Testament was accepted by Christ and His Apostles, as they never quoted from the deuterocanonical books; 2) the Old Testament was closed by the time of Christ, and it was the shorter canon; 3) the Jews themselves accepted the shorter, Pharisaic canon at the Council of Jamnia (or Javneh) in 90 A.D.; and 4) the deuterocanonical books contain unscriptural material.

Each of these arguments is wholly flawed.

1) Regarding the claim that Christ and His Apostles accepted the shorter, Pharisaic canon, an examination of the New Testament’s quotation of the Old Testament will demonstrate its fallacy. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament about 350 times, and in approximately 300 of those instances (86%), the quotation is taken from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament in widespread use at the time of Christ. The Septuagint contained the dueterocanonical books. It is therefore unreasonable and presumptuous to say that Christ and His Apostles accepted the shorter Old Testament canon, as the clear majority of the time they used an Old Testament version which did contain the seven books in question.

Or, take the case of Saint Paul, whose missionary journeys and letters were directed to Hellenistic regions outside of Palestine. It has been noted, for example, that his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia “presupposed a thorough acquaintance among his hearers with the Septuagint” and that once a Christian community had been founded, the content of his letters to its members “breathed the Septuagint.” (40) Obviously, Saint Paul was supporting the longer canon of the Old Testament by his routine appeal to the Septuagint.

Moreover, it is erroneous to say either that the deutero-canonical books were never quoted by Christ (41) and His apostles or that such citation is a prerequisite for a book’s inclusion in the Biblical canon. According to one list, the deutero-canonical books are cited or alluded to in the New Testament not less than 150 times! (42) In addition, there are Old Testament books, such as Ecclesiastes, Esther and Abdias (Obadiah), which are not quoted by Christ or the Apostles, but which are nonetheless included in the Old Testament canon (both Catholic and Protestant). Obviously, then, citation by Christ or the Apostles does not singlehandedly determine canonicity.

2) Regarding the claim that Christ and the Apostles worked with a closed Old Testament canon – which Protestants maintain was the shorter canon – the historical evidence undermines the allegation. First, there was no entity known as the Palestinian canon, for there were actually three cnaons in use in Palestine at that time, (43) in addition to the Septuagint canon. And second, the evidence demonstrates that “Judaism in the last two centuries B.C. and in the first century A.D. was by no means uniform in its understanding of which of its writings were considered sacred. There were many views both inside and outside of Israel in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. on which writings were deemed sacred.” (44)

3) Using the Council of Jamnia in support of a shorter canon is manifestly problematic for the following reasons: a) The decisions of a Jewish council which was held more than 50 years after the Resurrection of Christ are in no way binding on the Christian community, just as the ritual laws of Judaism (e.g., the prohibition against eating pork) are not binding on Christians. b) It is questionable whether or not the council made final decisions about the Old Testament canon of Scripture, since “the list of books acknowledged to ‘defile the hands’ continued to vary within Judaism itself up through the 4th century A.D.” (45) c) The council was, to some extent, a polemic directed specifically against the “sect” of Christianity, and its tone, therefore, was inherently opposed to Christianity. These Jews most likely accepted the shorter Pharisaic canon precisely because the early Christians accepted the longer Septuagint canon. d) The decisions of this council represented the judgment of just one branch of Pharisaic Judaism within Palestine and not of Judaism as a whole.

4) Lastly, for Protestants to aver that the duetero-canonical books contain unscriptural material is decidedly a case of unwarranted dogmatism. This conclusion was reached simply because the so-called Reformers, who were clearly antagonistic toward the Catholic Church, approached the Bible with an a priori notion that it teaches “Reformed” (Protestant) doctrine. They discarded the deutero-canonical books because in certain instances these books contain decidedly Catholic doctrine, as in the case of 2 Machabees 12:42-46, which clearly supports the doctrine of prayers for the dead and hence of Purgatory: “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Mach. 12:46). Luther, in fact, wanted to discard also the New Testament books of Revelation and James, the latter of which he termed an “epistle of straw” and which he felt had “nothing evangelical about it” (46) – no doubt because it clearly states that we are saved by faith and works (cf. James 2:14-26), in contrast to Luther’s erroneous “faith alone” doctrine. Luther was ultimately persuaded by his friends to retain these books.

In addition to the above is the fact of historical testimony and continuity regarding the canon of the Bible. While we have seen that there were disputes regarding the Biblical canon, two considerations are nonetheless true: 1) the deuterocanonical books were certainly used by Christians from the 1st century onward, beginning with Our Lord and His disciples, and 2) once the issue of the canon was settled in the 4th century, we see no change in Christian practice regarding the canon from that point onward. In practice, the only challenge to and disregard of these two realities occurs when the so-called Reformers arrive on the scene in the 16th century and decide that they can simply trash an 11-centuries-long continuity regarding the canon’s formal existence and a nearly 15-centuries-long continuity regarding its practical existence.

The fact that any individual would come along and single-handedly alter such a continuity regarding so central an issue as which books comprise the Bible should give the sincere follower of Christ serious pause. Such a follower is compelled to ask, “By whose authority does this individual make such a major change?” Both history and Luther’s own writings show that Luther’s actions were based on nothing but his own personal say-so. Surely such an “authority” falls grossly short of that which is needed for the canonical change he espoused, especially considering that the process of identifying the Bible’s canon was guided by the Holy Spirit, took centuries, and involved some of the greatest minds in Christianity as well as several Church Councils. More disturbing still is the fact that the other so-called Reformers – and Protestants ever since – have followed suit by accepting Luther’s changed canon, yet all the while they claim to honor the Bible and insist that nothing can be added to or deleted from it.”

Love,
Matthew

39. The Pharisaic canon, which was used by Jews in Palestine, did not contain the deuterocanonical books. The Septuagint or Alexandrian canon, which was used largely by Jews living in the Dispersion (i.e., Hellenistic regions outside of Palestine), did contain the deuterocanonical books.

40. W. H. C. Frend [Protestant author], The Rise of Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 99-100.

41. For some examples, compare the following passages: Matt. 6:14-15 with Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 28:2; Matt. 6:7 with Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 7:15(14); Matt. 7:12 with Tobit (Tobias) 4:16(15); Luke 12:18-20 with Sirach 11:19 (Ecclus. 11:19-20); Acts 10:34 with Ecclus. 35:15 (Sirach 35:12); Acts 10:26 with Wisdom 7:1; and Matt. 8:11 with Baruch 4:37.

42. Lee Martin McDonald [Protestant author], The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Appendix A (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1988). (Listing entitled “New Testament Citations and Allusions to Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings,” adapted from The Text of the New Testament, by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, two well-known Biblical scholars.)

43. They include a) the Qumran canon, which we know of from the Dead Sea Scrolls, b) the Pharisaic canon, and c) the Sadducees/Samaritan canon, which included only the Torah (the first books of the Old Testament).

44. McDonald, op. cit. p. 53.

45. Ibid, p. 60.

46. Hartmann Grisar, S.J., Martin Luther: His Life and Work (B. Herder, 1930; Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1961), p. 426.

Sola Scriptura? Sola scriptura does not allow for a final, definitive interpretation of any given passage of Scripture.

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joel_peters
-by Joel Peters

“As we have seen previously, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura maintains that the individual believer needs only the Bible as a rule of faith and that he can obtain a true interpretation of a given Scripture passage simply by comparing it with what the rest of the Bible teaches. In practice, however, this approach creates more problems than it solves, and it ultimately prevents the believer from knowing definitively and with certainty how any given passage from the Bible should be interpreted.

The Protestant, in reality, interprets the Bible from a standpoint of subjective opinion rather than objective truth. For example, say Protestant person A studies a Scripture passage and concludes interpretation X. Protestant B studies the identical passage and concludes interpretation Y. Lastly, Protestant C studies the same passage and concludes interpretation Z. (37) Interpretations X and Y and Z are mutually contradictory. Yet each of these people, from the Protestant perspective, can consider his or her interpretation to be “correct” because each one has “compared Scripture with Scripture.”

Now there are only two possible determinations for these three Protestants: a) each of them is incorrect in his interpretation, or b) only one of them is correct – since three contradictory interpretations cannot simultaneously be true. (38) The problem here is that, without the existence of an infallible authority to tell the three Protestants which of their respective interpretations is correct (i.e., objectively true), there is no way for each of them to know with certainty and definitively if his particular interpretation is the correct one. Each Protestant is ultimately left to an individual interpretation based on mere personal opinion – study and research into the matter notwithstanding. Each Protestant thus becomes his own final authority – or, if you will, his own “pope.”

Protestantism in practice bears out this fact. Since the Bible alone is not sufficient as a rule of faith (if it were, our three Protestants would be in complete accord in their interpretations), every believer and denomination within Protestantism must necessarily arrive at his/her/its own interpretation of the Bible. Consequently, if there are many possible interpretations of Scripture, by definition there is no ultimate interpretation. And if there is no ultimate interpretation, then a person cannot know whether or not his own interpretation is objectively true.

A good comparison would be the moral law. If each person relied on his own opinion to determine what was right or wrong, we would have nothing more than moral relativism, and each person could rightly assert his own set of standards. However, since God has clearly defined moral absolutes for us (in addition to those we can know by reason from the natural law), we can assess any given action and determine how morally good or bad it is. This would be impossible without moral absolutes.

Of course any given denomination within Protestantism would probably maintain that its particular interpretations are the correct ones – at least in practice, if not formally. If it did not, its adherents would be changing denominations! However, if any given denomination claims that its interpretations are correct above those of the other denominations, it has effectively set itself up as a final authority. The problem here is that such an act violates Sola Scriptura, setting up an authority outside Scripture.

On the other hand, if any given denomination would grant that it’s interpretations are no more correct than those of other denominations, then we are back to the original dilemma of never knowing which interpretation is correct and thus never having the definitive truth. But Our Lord said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6). The predicament here is that each and every denomination within Protestantism makes the same claim – either effectively or formally – regarding its interpretations being “correct.” What we are left with are thousands of different denominations, each claiming to have the Scriptural “truth,” yet none of which is capable of providing an objective determination regarding that “truth.” The result is an inability to obtain a definitive, authoritative and final interpretation of any given Scripture passage. In other words, the Protestant can never say that “the buck stops here” with regard to any given interpretation for any given passage of the Bible.”

Love,
Matthew

37. The quantity of three is used here for illustrative purposes only. The actual historical quantities (i.e., the number of variant interpretations for various passages) are far larger.

38. It is not denied here that a given passage from Scripture can have different levels of interpretation or that it may have different levels of meaning in terms of its application in the life of a believer. It is, however, denied here that a given passage can have more than one theological or doctrinal meaning in the face of opposing interpretations. For example, if two people assert, respectively, “X” and “not-X” for a given interpretation, they cannot both be correct. Take the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, for instance. If the first person says that the bread and wine at Mass actually become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and the second person says that they do not, it is impossible for both views to be objectively true.

The Catholic way to read the Bible

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trent-horn
-by Trent Horn

Rule 1: The Bible’s human authors were not divine stenographers. Everything asserted in Scripture is asserted by the Holy Spirit, but God allowed the human authors of Scripture to incorporate their own words, ideas, and worldviews into the sacred texts.

Rule 2: The Bible’s human authors were not writing scientific textbooks. Scripture does not assert a scientific description of the world, so details in the Bible that utilize “the language of appearances” are not erroneous.

Rule 3: The Bible contains many different literary styles. The Bible contains many different genres, some of which communicate true, historical facts through the use of poetic, nonliteral language.

Rule 4: Check the original language. Some Scripture passages are only difficult because they have been mistranslated. Examining the original language can help us better understand the sacred author’s intended meaning.

Rule 5: The Bible is allowed to be a sole witness to history. Ancient nonbiblical historians could make mistakes or fail to record events. Therefore, it is not necessary to require biblical events to be corroborated by nonbiblical sources.

Rule 6: Read it in context! Sometimes biblical passages only sound bad because they are isolated from their original context. Find the context and you’ll usually find the explanation of the passage.

Rule 7: Consult a reliable commentary. Commentaries provide details or facts not found in Scripture that can help explain Bible difficulties.

Rule 8: Evaluate Scripture against the whole of divine revelation. Interpret Scripture in light of what God has revealed in natural law as well as through His Church in the form of Sacred Tradition and the teaching office of the Magisterium.

Rule 9: Differing descriptions do not equal contradictions. The authors of Scripture may have differed in their descriptions of an event’s details, but not in the essential truths they were asserting about those events.

Rule 10: Incomplete is not inaccurate. Just because the sacred author did not record something another author recorded does not mean his text is in error.

Rule 11: Only the original texts are inspired, not their copies. Errors that came about through the copying process do not fall under the doctrine of inerrancy and can usually be located and corrected with ease.

Rule 12: The burden of proof is on the critic, not the believer. If a critic alleges that Scripture is in error, he has the burden of proving that is the case. If the believer even shows a possible way of resolving the text, then the critic’s objection that there is an intractable contradiction is refuted.

Rule 13: When the Bible talks about God, it does so in a nonliteral way. Because God is so unlike us, Scripture must speak about Him with anthropomorphic language that should not be taken literally.

Rule 14: Just because the Bible records it doesn’t mean God recommends it. The Bible is not an instruction book for how we should live, though sometimes it teaches us life lessons through stories that show us what not to do.

Rule 15: Just because the Bible regulates it doesn’t mean God recommends it. God progressively revealed Himself to mankind over several centuries. During this progression, the authors of Scripture regulated sinful practices in order to help God’s people eventually reject them in the future.

Rule 16: Life is a gift from God and He has complete authority over it. It is not morally impermissible for God to take away the mortal life He freely gave us.

As our discussion draws to a close, I’d like to leave you with one last rule: Give God’s word the benefit of the doubt.

In “Hard Sayings”, we’ve learned that even if we can’t resolve a difficulty at the present moment, it doesn’t mean that the Bible is in error or that it is uninspired. It just means we don’t know how to resolve the difficulty in question. This attitude is seen in early Church Fathers like Justin Martyr, who told critics in the second century, “[Since] I am entirely convinced that no Scripture contradicts another, I shall admit rather that I do not understand what is recorded, and shall strive to persuade those who imagine that the Scriptures are contradictory, to be rather of the same opinion as myself.”

Love,
Matthew

Martyrdom? Want fries with that?

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The word “martyr” means witness. While we generally associate it with death for a cause, Christian life has a more general, and beautiful, imho, understanding. In Catholicism, there is an expression, “state-of-life”. What is meant by that is that one is truly a Christian witness in a faithful, and faith-filled holy state-of-life: marriage, holy orders, religious life, single, chastity, etc., never associated with sin intentionally, one is bearing true witness to the Author of Life, to the Risen Lord. None of this is easy. The sinner deceives themselves into thinking some pleasure or distraction will make this life easy. There is none. The Prince of Lies still deceives effectively the many who listen to his lies.

The day-in-day-out fidelity to that state-of-life is not purposeless or meaningless suffering or drudgery, hardly, although it may seem very much like “Groundhog Day”. Living one’s Christian vocation, life, and state-of-life, is and can be and often is a heroic “living martyrdom”, a living prayer of action, of praise of Him Who is Author, Creator, Unmoved First Cause, to be Thomistic, of Life. One’s state-of-life, while not a sentence, and always able to be improved in Christian definition, is to be borne patiently, with strength, determination, maturity, and resolve, made only possible through prayer and that interior, intimate relationship, with Him, Who “allows us to do ALL THINGs”(Phil 4:13), because it is He, Himself, Who strengthens us!!! Praise Him!!! Praise Him!!!

In living this “living martyrdom” we atone for our own sins, or we add to the “treasury of merit“, where we atone for the sins of others, who have not the will nor wisdom nor the resolve, or whose sins are so grievous, they can never atone for all by themselves, infinitely in cooperation with and in praise of the Master’s most supreme salvific act on the Holy Cross, in this life. Catholicism is a community. We pray, we suffer, we love, we rejoice, we atone, together, no matter where in the world we live, or at what time we lived. For all of time is but a single moment to Him, Who is the Author of time, yet outside its bounds and constraints.

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-by Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ

“What kind of martyrdom are you preparing for?” That seems an odd question—for two reasons. First, it suggests there’s more than one kind of martyrdom—something other than submitting to being killed for the Faith. Second, in North America at least, it seems alarmist to urge Christians to prepare for martyrdom, as if Christians were being herded for slaughter as they were in ancient Rome. Let’s look at both issues.

Strictly speaking, to be a true martyr, one’s blood must be shed unto death, by those who hate the Faith. More broadly speaking, drawing on some sources of Celtic spirituality, some speak of “red,” “white” or “blue” martyrdom. According to this tradition, red martyrdom is suffering unto death undertaken for Christ; white martyrdom is a renouncing of the goods of the world for the sake of purity and self-control; blue (sometimes translated as “green”) martyrdom is a life of tears, fasting and penance undertaken for the repentance of one’s sins. (Leave it to the Irish to work out a full taxonomy of suffering.) Love of God may afford us the opportunity to lay down our lives all at once (as in red martyrdom), or as a daily offering over many years (as in white or blue martyrdom).

In recent conversations with faithful Catholics, I’ve heard the term “white martyrdom” to refer to those living the duties of their state in life, at great cost, day by day: Parents caring for very sick children; students accepting the severe discipline that academic excellence may require; doctors and nurses who daily confront disease and death with no end in sight.

So understood, I think of a Jesuit who taught chemistry to high school boys for over 40 years—who knows what depths of resolve he had to call upon day by day. And I think of my father, who retired early and spent the last 15 years of his life caring for my sick mother. These men bit by bit, day by day, year by year—for great love, offered themselves in sacrifice. I must believe that God always blesses such offerings.

It’s easy to imagine Christians in the Middle East for example (but not only there) considering the real possibility or even likelihood of red martyrdom. In North America, at least, sectarian violence is still shocking because it is rare. Europe is somewhere between the two. Who has any assurance that anti-Christian hatred, both sporadic and systematic, will not spread and persist?

Meanwhile, cultural and civil animus against Christianity is heating up in North America. Even if Christians here are not subject to systematic violence, they are becoming more and more unwelcome in the post-modern, post-Christian West. It will require heroism, love, duty, honor, and a radical openness to grace to persevere during the storms that are about to break upon us. And how are we as a culture and people of faith preparing?

Apparently, our youth have become so delicate that at least one university is offering 24/7 counseling to students upset by Halloween costumes. The office of “campus ministries” of a self-identified Catholic school is offering a retreat and asking students to dress as their favorite Disney characters. In other words, exaggerated sensitivities and decorated fantasies are being offered our “best and brightest.” Can we expect them to endure times of trial and persecution? Can we honestly describe infantilized adults as the crowning achievement of our culture?

This was my father’s favorite Bible verse: “When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in times of adversity. Cling to Him, forsake Him not; thus will your future be great. Accept what befalls you; in crushing misfortune be patient. For, in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and He will help you. Make straight your ways and hope in Him. You who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy. Turn not away, lest you fall.” (Sirach 2:1-7)

We may well be called to martyrdom in one form or another. We must certainly take up our cross to follow Christ. Those who wish to distinguish themselves in the service of Christ the King can expect burning hatred from the world and purifying fire from Heaven. Saint Ignatius Loyola warned: “Nothing worthy of God can be done without earth being set in uproar and hell’s legions roused.”

Martyrs or not, we are all called to bear witness to Christ and to be faithful to the end. Knowing that, let’s take up what the Church has always offered to those who would be saints: Scripture, Sacraments, prayer, penance and fasting. With these, God has made many saints. With these, God can make saints of you and me.”

Love & blessed martyrdom in the Master’s love & service & praise, and the grace of imitating Him in every way,
Matthew

“Quod scripsi, scripsi.”

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“What I have written, I have written. (Quod scripsi, scripsi.)” Those were the words of Pontius Pilate after directing that a sign be affixed to Jesus of Nazareth’s cross. On it was inscribed, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews,” written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The Jews protested, saying that the sign ought to read, “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” But Pilate would not be moved.

The sign Pilate authorized didn’t reflect his own beliefs about Jesus. As prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, he certainly didn’t have the authority or the desire to proclaim anyone king. He did, however, wish to send a message: This is what happens to pretended kings. For those who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah King, the placard proclaimed the Truth. For the Jews who didn’t believe, it was an insult and a warning. For Pilate, it was a useful tool to send a message.

If, centuries later, Pilate’s sign were the only record in existence about Jesus, we could still deduce a few things about the One Who hung on a cross at Calvary: His name was Jesus; He was from the town of Nazareth; and His execution was the result of a controversy over His kingship. Despite its intended purpose to ridicule, to warn, and maybe even to incite anger, the sign still says something true about the events that led up to Calvary. Pontius Pilate’s sign, therefore, is a hostile witness.

The Praise of Enemies

The Psalm says, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have perfected praise, because of Your enemies” (Ps. 8:2 LXX). Not only do the righteous praise Christ because of His enemies, but His enemies offer their own kind of praise. Their praise doesn’t come in the form of a compliment or some other sort of honor; it comes from the simple admission of the truth. Pilate affirmed the truth when his involvement in Jesus’ condemnation unwittingly produced the inscription. And that’s the curious thing about some of the historic enemies of the Church. When they were confronted with something about Christ or his Church that was too obvious to deny, they were forced to do one of two things: either concede the point and repackage it to suit their own purposes, or attempt to explain it away. Regardless of which action they took, the result remains the same: They still attest that they’ve encountered something about Christ or his Church that was real and needed to be dealt with. In other words, they attest to the Truth.

We call these unwitting corroborators of the truth hostile witnesses. They are, as the phrase suggests, witnesses who were hostile to Christ, his Church, or some aspect of his Church. Their testimonies are the best kind of evidence because they can’t be said to reflect bias in favor of the Faith or the Church—quite the opposite, in fact. Yet despite their probative value, these hostile testimonies haven’t been plumbed for all they are worth.

Direct and Indirect Evidence

Christian apologists naturally focus most of their attention on direct evidence in favor of their beliefs drawn from primary source material such as the New Testament, the early Church fathers, and a few extra-biblical sources. But indirect evidence can attest just as powerfully to a given fact or event.

Hostile witnesses sometimes provide direct evidence. They may speak directly about Jesus, where He lived, what He did, how and when He died, and so on. This information is very valuable. Indeed, “historical Jesus” research focuses almost exclusively on such statements. The real value of hostile witnesses, however, is when they provide indirect evidence. When confronted with some brute fact that was contrary to their belief system, they are forced to deal with it, and their evasive actions signal to us some truth about Christ and his Church that they are attempting to avoid.

It is true that direct evidence usually provides more detail about a certain fact or event than indirect evidence. The latter is like the shadows cast by an illumined figure—by themselves, they reveal little more than the figure’s broad outline. But something remarkable occurs when the figure and its shadow are viewed together: a fuller, more three-dimensional figure emerges. Such is the effect of studying direct and indirect evidence about Christ and His Church—including hostile testimony.

Apologetic Value

Studying Christ and His Church through the eyes of their enemies also has a practical benefit. Many of these opponents speak to issues that weren’t raised until centuries after they lived. In such cases, their value is doubled because they can’t be accused of harboring a bias; even if they were hostile to the Faith they had no knowledge of these future issues. Here’s an example: In modern times it became popular to claim that Jesus of Nazareth never existed. The pagan Roman historian Tacitus had no notion of this claim. His concern was to write about the persecutions under Nero. If Jesus was just a mythical figure fabricated by Christians, Tacitus would have had every reason to point it out—but he didn’t. Instead, he speaks about Jesus as someone who actually lived and was executed under Pontius Pilate—confirming that Jesus was no myth. Another example: a pagan graffito found in a building on Rome’s Palatine Hill, estimated to have been made around A.D. 200, depicts a man named Alexamenos worshipping a donkey-headed man crucified on a cross. What the ancient graffitist couldn’t have known is that centuries later a group called the Jehovah’s Witnesses would claim that Jesus was executed on a stake, not a cross. But this pagan’s attempt to mock Christianity provides evidence that they are wrong. Both Tacitus and the pagan graffitist, then, though hostile toward Christ and his Church, inadvertently vindicated certain truths about Christianity.

More to the Story

These historic foes of the Church also make wonderful allies when it comes to combating historic anti-Catholic and anti-Christian myths that have taken root in our time. Many of these myths are so thoroughly ingrained in the popular imagination that it is difficult to debunk them. The reason for this difficulty is that these myths provide simplistic, two-dimensional and easy-to-grasp explanations of complex events.

Here is where hostile testimony can be particularly effective. Hostile witnesses can be called upon in argument to give bite-sized counter-evidence that raises the possibility that the myth isn’t telling the whole story. For example, if someone asserts that the Crusades were genocidal attempts to forcibly convert all Jews and Muslims, they first have to explain the testimonies of the Muslim chronicler Ibn Jubayr and Rabbi Ephraim ben Jacob of Bonn, who speak otherwise. Again, if someone asserts that the Inquisition was a murderous tool of the Church that killed millions of innocent people, you can call to its defense the former inquisitor Llorente, who had an ax to grind against his former employer, or even a hostile letter to the pope written by King Ferdinand of Spain.

Thus, the main purpose of invoking testimony of hostile witnesses is to show that there is more to certain assertions about Church history than what most people have been led to believe. Since their hostility toward the Faith makes it impossible to dismiss their statements as Catholic propaganda, hostile testimony is able to cut through the facade of these anti-Catholic and anti-Christian myths, and opens the door for further investigation.

Laying a Foundation

Hostile Witnesses contains a veritable rogues’ gallery of the historic opponents of the Faith, beginning with those recorded in the New Testament. In many ways, this initial layer of hostile testimonies serves as a baseline for later ones. By reviewing them chronologically, it’s possible to see how certain assertions and accusations evolved over time. Cross-references are included to help the reader see these connections as the book progresses.

After the fourth century, our attention turns from individual witnesses to topics and events such as the rise of Islam, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, the miracles at Lourdes, and events connected with the two world wars. These parts provide counter-evidence to various myths and slanders about the Church, and show how it survives with the same supernatural vigor that it had in its earliest centuries.

Questions Unasked

One oddity that will appear over and over again is the hostile witness’s inability to ask the obvious questions. They will supply all sorts of explanations and excuses to explain some aspect of Christianity that they’ve encountered, but they rarely ask why. Questions like: Why does the name Jesus heal? Why do Christians work miracles? Why are people following a dead leader? As these unasked questions begin to accumulate, an unexpected picture begins to emerge from the murk of their anti-Christian and anti-Catholic vitriol. At first it is difficult to make out, but it is there, lurking between the lines of their discourses, buried under their insults, and hiding behind their obfuscations. We have only to uncover it by asking the questions they chose not to.  (Amen.  Praise Him!!!)

Q. The concept for this book is different than any other Catholic apologetics resource out there. Where did it come from?

A. The idea started years ago while researching Church history. Every now and then I would stumble across a hostile quote or some other item that made me think, “Wow! That person just conceded a very important point,” or “This person doesn’t realize it, but he is inadvertently affirming something that anti-Catholics deny.” As these quotes accumulated, it dawned on me that putting these testimonies together in a book would not only be a fascinating read, it could prove to be an incredibly powerful apologetic tool that—to the best of my knowledge—has never been done on this scale.

Q. What is a “hostile witness” when it comes to talking about apologetics?

A. The term hostile witness is usually used in law courts, but the book uses it in its plain sense—namely, someone or something that is hostile or antagonistic to the Faith and yet bears witness to some truth about Christianity. In this sense, a hostile witness could be someone like the emperor Julian the Apostate, who tried to undermine and destroy Christianity; or King Ferdinand of Spain, who opposed papal interventions during the Spanish Inquisition but generally was a good Catholic. Hostile testimony also comes in other forms, such as a marble table known as the Nazareth Inscription or ancient anti-Christian graffiti or even Egyptian magical incantations. Each of these things reveals some truth about Christ and his Church in their own way. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions.

Q. You go through a pretty significant number of hostile witnesses in the book. Which grouping of witnesses gives the best evidence from an apologetic standpoint?

A. We cover testimonies from the New Testament era all the way through to World War II. What’s beautiful about this book is that its usefulness isn’t restricted to one subject. It has many different applications in several different apologetics fields. If you’re talking to skeptics or atheists, the earliest evidence will be very helpful in establishing things like the bona fides of miracles, Christ as a real historical person, the truth of the Resurrection, and debunking mythicists views, just to name a few. There is material that can be helpful in Christian-Jewish dialogues. Later in the book, chapters are dedicated to periods that are often misunderstood, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and even the myth of “Hitler’s pope.”

Q. With the large number of Protestant denominations and world religions out there, would it be fair to say that the number of hostile witnesses continues to grow every day?

A. I think that’s a fair statement. In fact, there were a lot of testimonies that had to be left out because they were too recent. I wanted to provide testimony where people died without recanting their statements so that we know what they wrote was their frank and unadulterated position.

Q. What apologetic points are strengthened most often by the testimony of these “Hostile Witnesses”?

A. It’s common today to reduce Christ to an idea shaped by opinion or view his Church as a mere personal preference. Using Scripture and the early Father fathers are helpful in dispelling these misconceptions, but the testimonies of hostile witnesses do something more. These historic enemies of the Christ and the Church were not dealing with an opinion or a lifestyle preference; they were dealing with what was for them a real concrete problem, a historical reality that they could neither ignore nor avoid. The best they could do was to attempt to dismiss it, paint it in the worst possible light, or explain it away. In this way, Hostile Witnesses strengthens practically every field in Christian and Catholic apologetics.

Q. You mention in the book that Hostile Witnesses surprised even you, the author. How so?

A. My original intent for Hostile Witnesses was to propose a new approach in Catholic and Christian apologetics and I believe the book does that. However, once all the testimonies were gathered and I began to read them through as a whole, I noticed something amazing. In fact, it almost knocked me off my seat. When you view Christ and his Church through the concessions of his enemies, a new and exciting picture emerges, not unlike, I imagine, the first time the Shroud of Turin was viewed as a photo negative. New features that were not very noticeable before (because they had become so commonplace) suddenly come to life. These testimonies show that something explosive and astounding happened in first century Judea surrounding Jesus of Nazareth and that the supernatural character of that event continues with the same vitality and vigor in the Church through the ages up to today. Many of the hostile witnesses tried to dismiss it. Some even tried to eradicate it. But in the end, their opposition only serves to highlight the supernatural character of Christ and his Church.

Q. How would you recommend using this resource when it comes to explaining the Catholic Faith to non-Catholics?

A. There’s an old Jewish saying, “a fool jumps into a well and a hundred wise men are needed to bring him out.” It is so much easier to raise an objection than answer it. Someone could make a remark about “The Inquisition” or the crusades in a sentence or two, but it would take an hour long lecture to explain why they are wrong. Hostile testimony can prove to be a short and effective rejoinder. For example, if someone says that the crusades were a genocidal attack by Christians to wipe out Islam and take over their lands, you could respond like this: “Really? Why did Ibn Jubayr – a devout Muslim with decidedly anti-Christian views – say that Muslims in Christian occupied lands were treated more justly and given more liberty than those in Muslim occupied territories?” Or if someone says that Pope Pius XII was silent against the Nazi regime, you could reply: “Why did Reinhard Heydrich’s office issue a communiqué stating the Pope attacked everything that the National Socialists stood for?” As you can see, hostile testimony won’t give the whole picture or a complete defense of a subject, but it is incredible helpful for exposing the fact that the objector hasn’t been told the whole story and that can be an opening for further discussions.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Why God still matters…

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-by Karlo Broussard

“Have you noticed how some of the New Atheists don’t even bother trying to disprove God’s existence? Your arguments in favor of God don’t even deserve a reply, they say, because not only does God not exist—He doesn’t even matter.

We don’t need God to explain the universe, they say. We don’t need Him to be moral or happy. And we don’t need Him to guide us or help figure things out—science can take care of that. Take away the need for God, they conclude, and the human urge to believe in Him disappears.

Q. Why do most atheists think that there necessarily has to be a conflict between faith and science?

A. One reason is because they [mistakenly] think science is the only rational form of inquiry, making all theological explanations unworthy of a rational person. Second, they think science is sufficient to explain the universe, thus booting any necessity for God out when it comes to explaining the universe.

Q. What’s the most effective way to show a non-believer that God does still matter?

A. In the DVD, I show that God matters because without Him we wouldn’t exist. That of course requires a proof for God’s existence, which I provide. I also think we can show the absurdity of rejecting God’s existence. If God doesn’t exist, then complete and perfect happiness is impossible, in which case life is absurd. Moreover, if God doesn’t exist, then there can be no moral obligation. By the showing the absurdities that atheistic “logic” leads to, unbelievers may come to reconsider their rejection of God.

Q. How does the rejection of God undermine objective morality?

A. It doesn’t necessarily undermine an objective knowledge of what is good and bad for human beings. This is something we can know given our human nature. Nature directs us to certain ends, the achievement of which is good and the frustration of which is bad. But the rejection of God does undermine the moral obligation to follow the ordering of human nature. If the dictates of human nature do not express the will of the Supreme Being, then there can be no obligation to follow it. How can there be any obligation to follow the natural moral law if there is no lawgiver behind it?

Q. You say that, without God, life falls into absurdity. Can you explain?

A. Why do we do the things we do? For the sake of happiness! [Ed.  this is where the Catholic argument begins.  If you ask anyone, “Aren’t we supposed to be happy?  They would immediately say, ‘Yes!’  Without the ‘Yes!’ to innately desiring and knowing happiness is supposed to be our natural state, and rejecting any state, plainly, which is less than that, is where the Catholic argument begins.  To intentionally, soberly desire less than happiness, is to exhibit unhealthy emotional symptoms.  The desire for happiness is rational, reasonable, possible, real, human, us.]  It [happiness] is the one thing we can’t [directly] choose, but everything else is chosen for the sake of it [happiness; to get to happiness].

Now, there are some desires we have as human beings that can be satisfied without God and thus experience happiness to a certain extent. The unbeliever can experience sensory pleasure, success and achievement, and the joy of loving relationships. [These may give pleasure for a period of time, but their satisfaction illusory; it fades.  We are still left hungry.  They DO NOT satisfy finally, in a complete way, which we deeply, deeply desire, hunger for, and NEED!!]

There are some desires, however, that can’t be satisfied without God—namely, the desire for perfect and unconditional knowledge, love, goodness or justice, and beauty. Only God can satisfy these desires, because only God is infinite knowledge, love, goodness, and beauty itself. So, without God, it is impossible to be completely satisfied as a human being. We would be condemned to a life of perpetual dissatisfaction, which constitutes the absurdity of life.”

Love, faith, hope, truth,
Matthew