home
RSS
November 12th, 2010
07:17 PM ET

Catholic clergy confer on exorcism rite

By CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi

A group of Catholic bishops and priests are gathering in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday and Saturday to examine what Scripture and canon law have to say about exorcism.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, spoke with CNN during a break in the Friday session to explain why the clergymen are meeting about this titillating, yet rare, rite in the Catholic tradition.

"It's an effort to try and provide some pastoral training for bishops and priests, to try and provide a pastoral response with people who may or may not be having demonic activity," he said. "The reality is there really have not been regular courses, or even a class, on how to do [exorcisms] because it is a rare thing. The work of the devil possessing someone is a rare thing. It's not part of the daily practices of a priest."

According to canon law, the governing structure of the Catholic Church, any priest, because of his ordination, has the power to perform an exorcism, Paprocki said. But, he said, "Canon law states he needs the permission of his bishop before he can perform an exorcism."

And therein lies the reason for the conference.

Bishops and priests have to be sharp on rules of this rarely used rite. Both are gathering in Baltimore for the annual U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And with so many coming from across the country, it seemed to be a natural fit for the workshop on exorcism.

Paprocki heads the Committee for Canonical Affairs and Church Governance for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and was one of the organizers for the gathering on exorcism.

During the conference, the group will look at what the Bible says, paying careful attention to how Jesus responded to evil spirits or demons in the New Testament. During the Friday morning session, Paprocki said, they examined the Gospel of Mark. He said one of the first things Jesus did in his public ministry was cast out demons, and it was the demons that first identified Jesus as the Messiah in Mark.

Among the speakers is Cardinal Daniel DiNardo from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas, who will speak about Jesus confronting evil in the Bible, according to his representative. The attendees will also examine the study of angels and demons. From there, Paprocki said, they will move to the practical ways Catholic clergy should respond to requests for exorcisms.

"We use the principle that we have to exclude all natural explanations before we go to the supernatural explanation," he said. This includes having the person requesting the exorcism see a doctor and a psychologist.

"A lot of people experiencing what they think is possession just aren't taking their medicine," he said. Because of this, he said, priests and bishops need to use a great deal of pastoral discernment. "Is it a mental disease that can be diagnosed, or is it demonic activity, or even is the event both?"

Before becoming the bishop of Springfield in June, Paprocki was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago in Illinois. In that position, he dealt with the administrative side of exorcisms. When a request came into the diocese, his office received them. "I was the first portal to these inquiries," he said.

In his 25-plus years in ministry, he has never seen an exorcism and said demonic possession is rare and extraordinary. In his time processing the administrative requests, he said, "I'm not aware of a formal exorcism while I was there." But he said there has been an increase in requests since he left and the Archdiocese of Chicago has since appointed an exorcist.

"This is an element of our pastoral care for people. If possession is extraordinary and the use of the exorcism is the extraordinary response, then the daily work of the devil is temptation. Very few people are possessed, but everyone gets tempted," he said. The fix for temptation, he said, is not exorcism but rather participation in church resources such as Mass, Communion and confession.

As for the conference, he is not surprised by the attention it has received. "It shouldn't be unusual for us as clergy to be talking about the devil," he said.  "People kind of look at you funny when you talk about it in public." But he said that even while talking about the devil and exorcism may be a small and rare part of the Catholic tradition, "Yes, I believe it's a regular part of our faith."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Mass • Pastors

soundoff (528 Responses)
  1. Jesus

    I'm not real.

    neither are demons.

    November 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
  2. Jonas

    Seriously? This is how the Catholic Church is using its valuable time and money? Good God, send in Jason and Grant from Ghost Busters for that crap and use the resources of the Catholic Church for saving the world.

    November 13, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  3. vj

    For the first time catholic priests are in news for a reason other than pedophilia

    November 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @vj

      Which is probably why the exorcist thing came up. It's always a crowd pleaser.

      November 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  4. I dont believe in Athiests

    Who are you going to call on at the moment of you're deaths? Science save me!!! haha I shouldnt laugh at your eternal damnation, im sorry.

    November 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • Bree

      @I dont believe in Athiests: Hilarious, but true post! Still laughing!

      November 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I suspect this wasn't your point, but science has saved more people though medicine, safety equipment, and agriculture, than all the gods in history.

      November 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  5. I dont believe in Athiests

    Remember what you are all saying now because at the moment of your death you will all be crying like little girls asking for Gods help. Thats a fact.

    November 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • David Johnson

      No, dude. At the moment of my death and your death and everyone else's death we simply will no longer exist. Our brains cease to function. All of you memories and learnings will be gone. There is no afterlife. No smiling Jesus to either cuddle us or torture us. Sorry.

      But rejoice in the fact that we live on through our children, our friends and the people who love us.

      Cheers!

      November 13, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
    • Frogist

      @I dont believe in Athiests: You seem like you're positively slobbering at the mouth to watch other people suffer. And your glee in your superiority is so Christ-like.

      November 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Dave

    Maybe they could go exorcise all the evil 'tards over at GOldman Sachs that are doing God's work!

    November 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  7. Gavin Ford

    David Johnson, the world needs more people like you!!!!! Bravo!

    November 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  8. Steve

    @Reality:

    You wrote / copied:

    "'After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing.

    'So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus very possibly would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones."'

    OK. So someone GUESSED that Jesus' body was thrown to the dogs, or maybe it was tossed into a mass grave, or (as Maxwell Smart might say) would you believe, placed under some rocks somewhere?

    Crap like this gives pseudo-intellectual theological garbage a good name.

    Just a few questions for those who actually think Reimarus' bunk sounds about right: How many people do you know have willingly given their lives in the furtherance of what they knew to be a hoax? Each and every one of the 11 disciples was executed for witnessing to his faith. Does anyone really think that faith included a firm knowledge of the "hoax" of Jesus' resurrection? Don't you think that, once the disciples started getting killed, the remaining ones would have wanted to preserve all that money Reimarus thinks they got by keeping quiet and fading into oblivion?

    Self-styled debunkers of the faith have to try harder than this. A LOT harder.

    So, what else you got, Reality?

    November 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • Reality

      Steve,

      You skipped over the initial and essential details about the mythical resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus. Once again:

      Saving Christians From the Big Resurrection Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now even Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology grad school notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies."

      Add to that, the following:

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty, wingie, talking thingies".

      And to summarize the current situation with Christianity and its predessor religion, Judaism:

      1. The New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
      earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

      For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:

      Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      November 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Reality

      I really do dig the stuff you post! Live forever, dude!

      November 16, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  9. AGeek

    I wonder why all the Catholics on here believe the only valid God is the one they believe in. That's mighty darned disrespectful to the other 5.5+ billion people on the planet who aren't Catholic. Then again, given they willingly follow a merry band of misogynistic, pedophile-protecting hypocrites, I suppose I shouldn't be but *so* surprised.

    November 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @AGeek, truth is truth my friend. There can't be multiple contradicting truths. Just because some who know the truth don't live up to it doesn't make the truth any less true.

      November 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      All the religions and all the denominations of Christianity could not all be right. But, they could all be wrong.

      Perhaps we have not "discovered" the one true god yet. Or perhaps god does not exist. I'm putting my check mark in the box by the latter.

      Cheers!

      November 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • DUnka Shane

      Ther is no god dude. none. sorry bubba...

      November 14, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  10. Northerndude

    Watch Constantine with Keanu Reeves, good show about this b/s, gives you the heebie jeebies.

    November 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  11. boxcarmike

    If there is no god then there are no demons......exorcism is just a way of scaring people into believing the church is saving them......if someone is possessed.....it's not "demons" it's a mental disorder......the victim needs doctors not gods or priests....witchcraft at it's best.

    November 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  12. brown

    This meeting was just an excuse for the pedophile priests to talk strategy!

    November 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  13. Brian

    I wonder why people start laughing when they hear the word "Catholic."

    November 13, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  14. CMC

    I absolutely love that these people are gathering to seriously debate how to get rid of demons that are possessing people, yet they turned a blind eye to the very real demons of pedophiles abusing their young followers. Exorcise demons, protect pedophiles. Does this make ANY sense?

    November 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @CMC

      Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh..!!!! I think bringin' thing up like that might ruin there 'misdirection' techniques.

      November 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Maybe, just maybe the Catholic Church is going for the "The Devil Made Me Do It" defense.

      November 13, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  15. mike

    It gives me no faith in the human race to know that people still believe this ridiculousness in the 21st century. if you believe your invisible imaginary friend can send out a priest to remove demons from someone then you should be in an asylum.

    November 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  16. Shannon Underwood

    This is just another type of abuse condoned by the Catholic Church, mainly women and children or the mentally ill are abused. Time to take away their tax exempt status and identify this cult of abuse for what it is, Evil personified.

    November 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  17. Vertebrate Catholic

    Question for any protestant: At what point in history was the canon of the Bible officially decided, and by whom was this done? Furthermore, how do we know that this decision was correct and that the Apocalypse of John truly belongs in the Bible? Remember that there was much disagreement about the inclusion of this and other texts.

    November 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  18. Vertebrate Catholic

    Question for any atheist: Is there anything in the physical world which has an existence that is not contingent on something else? Is there any necessary being in all of existence?

    November 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Ahhh! That's cute! You are going for the everything must have a cause argument. Okay! Let's play.

      If everything needs a cause, then what caused your god?

      If you say your god always existed and does not need a cause, then I claim that for my universe also.
      It is just as likely that my universe always existed, as your god.

      There are literally dozens of arguments for there being a god. All have counter arguments. I find it boring to read the argument you wish to try next, and then have to type back the rebuttal.

      Happy Trails!

      November 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @David Johnson,

      You can assert that the universe is eternal all you want, but that's incredibly unscientific. That is a philosophical conclusion, and it is one and the same as my philosophical conclusion. The conclusion is that, if there is nothing natural that exists out of necessity (meaning everything in existence is contingent), then there must ultimately be something which is not contingent, which has now been defined as supernatural. This is the Catholic philosophical view of God and apparently your philosophical view of the universe. If "the universe" is a necessary being and all other existence is contingent upon it, then you have simply given the name "universe" to what the philosophy of the Church calls God.

      November 13, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
    • Steve

      David Johnson – Looks like you hooked a big one here. Gonna be tough to get him into the boat.

      Careful here, dude! Atheists far wiser than any of us have been drawn to the faith when they get this deeply into it! I'd pay money to watch this one play out.

      November 14, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      While science does not yet know, where the material for the singularity came from, or why it exploded, it does not mean that "god did it". It just means that science hasn't figured it out yet. Once, this could be said about most things.

      Early man invented the gods, because they were afraid of death and they didn't know very much about the world around them. God was used to explain this world. What makes the rain? God makes the rain. Why does the sun cross the sky? The god(s) drive the sun across the sky. Why does the mountain rumble? God(s) is angry.

      Using god to fill in the gaps in man's knowledge, is called: "God of the Gaps". Catchy huh?

      As man's knowledge increases, there are less and less gaps for God to hide in. There is less and less for Him to do. Good thing he has carpentry skills huh?

      There is no reason to suppose that science will not, one day, be able to explain everything. In fact, a theory is being worked on by Stephen Hawking and other physicists designed to be a theory of everything. It is called M Theory.

      As you can see from the examples of gaps that god once filled, god was not responsible for them. Hawking and others see no reason that a god is necessary for the creation of the universe.

      To say that because we currently observe cause and effect relationships occurring, the universe itself must have had a first cause is assuming something that no one knows. At the singularity, even time did not exist (or at least not as we know it).

      We both have similar dilemmas. You don't know who created your god or, even that He exists at all. At least, I know the universe exists. The fact the universe exists, is not proof of your god's existence.

      In fact if you select god as being the first cause/creator of the universe, then you begin the infinite regress of god's existence. i.e., who created god, who created god's creator, who created god's, god's creator etc. ad nauseum.

      Now, you might say, "God exists outside of time and space so the rule that everything must have a cause does not apply to Him."

      Okay, If there exist things which are not subject to the rules, then the rules are not really rules. If you grant that some things do not need a creator, then we may as well say that it is the universe, or some other not God thingy, that requires no creator.

      You see my little Catholic, you still must use faith are your evidence. If you and I have "faith" that god does indeed exist outside time and space and only He has this characteristic, then all the rest of the first cause argument falls in place. But then, we would not need the argument would we?

      Faith is not evidence. You are still left with an empty "god sack". LOL
      You have no proof your god even exists, much less that he lives outside time and space.

      P.S. Even if you say: "God is the only thing that lives outside time and space", your argument still falls apart because that would mean God is special, which is what you are trying to prove. You would be begging the question.

      Cheers!

      November 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Steve

      Yep, but I can handle it.

      November 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @David Johnson,

      Ah, but you're clearly misunderstanding my line of argumentation. I am not talking about causes or beginnings, but rather about necessity and contingency. The principle I am asserting is that, if nothing in the physical world exists out of necessity, then all physical existence is contingent upon the existence of something else. Can you follow this philosophical train of thought? You may have physical evidence that the universe exists, but you do not and cannot have any physical evidence that it exists out of necessity, as that would be inconsistent with all we know about the physical world. Use of our intellect invariably leads us to the conclusion that there must exist a necessary being which has an existence that is not contingent. This is a logical necessity, a prerequisite for all existence. How can the universe itself exist out of necessity, since it is only a name for all of physical existence, which we have already determined has a contingent existence? Contingent existence is natural. Necessary existence is unnatural, or supernatural. I am not yet bringing the revealed God of the Catholic faith into this argument, but simply demonstrating one of many philosophical principles which necessitate the existence of a non-contingent being. The question "what necessitates the necessary being?" is philosophically unnecessary and quite irrational, as the grammar itself demonstrates.

      November 14, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      You don't seem to have a very good grasp of English. You keep using the word "contingent" without a qualifying term, and you use "necessity" as if everything were already predicated upon something else – yet you use it at the beginning of your disjointed and rather badly drawn "argument."
      You write like someone who has just discovered the big, wonderful world of five-dollar words. I did that myself when I was a kid – and I gave it up before I was out of grade school.
      To make a coherent argument, you need to use English correctly. That means you cannot use an adjective as a verb or a noun, like you did with "contingent".
      Using the word "necessity" without any qualifying references shows you are not expressing yourself clearly.
      "Necessity" requires parameters, references, and is predicated upon there being a "need" – something which you never touched upon at all despite your flinging the word "contingent" around like a toy you just started playing with.
      Terms like "contingent existence" and "necessary existence" are nonsense terms that mean nothing without proper delineation and referential context with which to give meaning to those terms.
      You use English in a most intemperate manner. Your grammar is atrocious. Your sentence structure is often incomprehensible, and you do not appear to understand the meanings and definitions of the words you are attempting to use.
      You are an empty windbag blowing a frothy mess of nonsense words and phrases. Why don't you try getting a little education before trying to argue something beyond your comprehension? All you do is say nonsense. Why don't you try talking clearly?
      Any Jesuit priest would punish you for writing such trash. Why don't you go talk to one of them? You might learn something.

      November 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
    • Steve

      @Sum Dude:

      So, it's down to arguing grammar. And relying on a Jesuit to correct Vertebrate Catholic. Why can't you do that yourself? Or perhaps posit a Dominican Thomistic scholar to do it for you?

      Vertebrate Catholic is clearly and effectively arguing an important point. If you can't debate the issue, please don't resort to insults. It's exactly that kind of response that gives atheists a bad rap. Surely Richard Dawkins wouldn't respond that way, would he? OK, Christopher Hitchens might, but...well...that's because he's Christopher Hitchens.

      Dude, if you can't do better than arguing grammar and throwing insults, it's time to concede. Or let the grownups take it from here. Your pick.

      November 15, 2010 at 12:33 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Steve / Vertebrate Catholic

      You said, "Vertebrate Catholic is clearly and effectively arguing an important point."

      No, he/she is NOT arguing clearly or effectively. That is the WHOLE PROBLEM HERE.

      A garbled mishmash of nonsensical words and phrases is not a cogent argument and never will be.

      Why are you so intent on defending "Vertebrate Catholic"?
      And why can't you do it honestly? Why is being honest so hard for Catholics? Is it an occupational hazard?

      And I don't give a flying fuck what those other people would do....I'm not an atheist.

      So here we are. You are wrong on all counts. I argued clearly and effectively and suggested further correction through a Jesuit priest.
      All you could do was insinuate that I am just being rude and denied that I argued anything.
      That makes you a liar. I can't say that I'm all that surprised, having encountered your underhanded and dishonorable tactics in the past.
      You fail again. Why not try being honest for once in your sorry life? Is honesty painful for you or something? geez.

      November 15, 2010 at 1:05 am |
    • Steve

      @David Johnson –

      If you can handle it as you say, then let's stick to Vertebrate Catholic's point:

      "The principle [Vertebrate Catholic is] asserting is that, if nothing in the physical world exists out of necessity, then all physical existence is contingent upon the existence of something else."

      So, which is it? Does anything in the physical world exist out of necessity, yes or no? And an answer like "The question is irrelevant", or some such variant, is a cop-out. It's either yes or no.

      No more ad hominems or insults, please. I think we're real close to getting somewhere.

      November 15, 2010 at 1:08 am |
    • Steve

      @ Sum Dude:

      It's been a long time since I've laughed as hard as I did at your latest comment above. Just...wow.

      I guess you really CAN'T do better than that. Oh, well. At least I'm learning something from David Johnson and Vertebrate Catholic. (Much) more from the latter than the former, though. And by the way, I'm certainly not defending VC. He /she certainly doesn't need my support.

      Let's see what DJ has to say about VC's point, on which I (hopefully) refocused him.

      November 15, 2010 at 1:27 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Steve
      Did you have a point or a real argument to make or were you just going to continue using ad hominem attacks against me?

      November 15, 2010 at 1:32 am |
    • Steve

      @ Sum Dude:

      See my question (from Vertebrate Catholic) above. Can you answer it?

      November 15, 2010 at 5:39 am |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @Sum Dude,
      Contingent: –adjective, conditional; dependent
      I'm not sure if you're misunderstanding, misreading, or intentionally muddling my words, but I believe I've made the meaning quite clear for anyone who understands the words. Nowhere have I used the word as a noun. "Contingent existence" is a perfectly acceptable phrase, one that has been used in many a dissertation. If you feel my question is philosophically unnecessary, then this style of discussion is most certainly not for you.

      November 15, 2010 at 10:54 am |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      "Though ontology does not derive its data directly from the empirical world, it does try to establish the necessary conditions and parameters of contingent existence" -one of my favorite theoretical physicists, Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. (that means he's a Jesuit)

      November 15, 2010 at 10:57 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      I believe this is the argument you are presenting:
      The “Argument from Contingency” examines how every being must be either necessary or contingent. Since not every being can be contingent, it follow that there must be a necessary being upon which all things depend. This being is your god. Yes?

      In a line of dominoes, each domino falls because of the previous domino striking it. The dominoes falling, are all contingent on the previous domino falling. Except, for the first domino in the line. This first domino has no domino to set it in motion. The necessary, prime mover, is your god. He taps the first domino. Yes?

      And so, we arrive back at the "there must be a first cause" thingy. Do you understand this?

      My first post on this, still applies.

      There is no proof that there exists a self existent being. You are still doing the "God of the Gaps" answer to everything. This answer has always been wrong in the past. So far, god has not been "necessary" for any explanation. Hmmm...

      The Argument from Contingency commits what has been called, “the taxicab fallacy.” As the nineteenth-century atheist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer believed: Like a taxi, once you’ve arrived at your desired destination, you can't just dismiss the cab. You can’t say that everything has an explanation of its existence and then suddenly exempt god.

      The Argument from Contingency maintains that all of the observed parts of the universe are contingent. And then concludes that the universe itself is therefore contingent. How do you know that? Again, the universe may have always existed. It is just as likely as your god having always existed.

      There are developing theories and findings that are postulating how our universe came into being, without your prime mover. These alternate ideas greatly weaken the "Everything is contingent on a god" argument.

      In the everyday world, energy is always unalterably fixed; the law of energy conservation is a cornerstone of classical physics. But in the quantum microworld, energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion. (Davies, 1983, 162)

      Restate:
      What the Argument from Contingency is saying, is that god is necessary to the creation of the universe, because everything else is contingent on something else. Since we can't have infinite regress, we will stop at god because nothing else can explain the universe. He is the necessary element.

      But God may well not be the necessary element. All of the scientific theories, will be proved or falsified and altered over the next several years.

      The Argument from Contingency again, requires "faith". They are cool for the choir. Not worth much for an atheist, asking for proof. Especially, since science is developing alternate, provable/falsifiable, theories.

      Why don't you take a shot at this one: It tends to eat at me:

      • If God can prevent evil, but doesn't, then He isn't all-loving.
      • If God intends to prevent evil, but cannot, then He isn't omnipotent.
      • If God both intends to prevent evil and is capable of doing so, then how can evil exist?

      November 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @David Johnson

      There seems to be a wall in your logic which you will not cross – and that is the difference between causality and necessity. Let me phrase my question in a different way: does the physical universe need to exist? This question is extremely important. Early manifestations of materialist philosophy (which appears to be what you are advocating) maintained that matter existed out of necessity. At that time it was scientifically viable to claim that matter could not be created or destroyed, and so materialists argued that matter had a necessary existence. With Einstein's discoveries, however, it was found that matter is not conserved. This blew apart the argument of the necessity of matter's existence, since if something can be destroyed, then it cannot have a necessary existence. The question remains: does the physical universe need to exist? If things don't NEED to happen a certain way, then there is absolutely no physically explainable reason for them to happen that way. If I drop an apple does it need to fall? Yes, and so it does. If an apple is at rest on a table does it need to fall? No, and so it doesn't. In fact, it cannot. If the apple does fall, its falling is completely contingent and is ultimately the result of some other necessary force. I just made an analogy using physical forces (don't confuse my meaning to be about causes); it is just so with existence. Does the physical universe NEED to exist? Remember, the very act of reasoning presupposes objectivity, so it is not acceptable to disregard this question.

      As far as the "taxicab falllacy" goes, you are putting the cart before the horse. I've yet to say anything about the true God specifically, beyond that reason leads us to the conclusion that there must be a necessary being. That's all I've asserted so far. There are other philosophical principles which lead us to other logical conclusions regarding the nature of this necessary being, but I have yet to invoke them. Pure philosophy requires no faith, only use of our intellect.

      Regarding your questions:
      • If God can prevent evil, but doesn't, then He isn't all-loving.
      -My answer: What does it mean to love? Is love possible without sacrifice and adversity? True love must be freely chosen on both sides and can only be demonstrated by self-sacrifice. Love is not a sentiment or simply the desire to lessen the other's suffering. True love desires the growth, strength, and ultimate perfection of the other. According to Catholic theology, this world is not our home and it is incredibly fleeting. How could anyone earn any dignity for themselves or prove their worth at all if God did not permit free will and suffering? Suffering is incredibly difficult to bear and to understand, especially when it is born by the young and innocent, but it is ALWAYS a lever that raises us to new heights. God promises that all will be sorted out with justice when our short trial here has ended.
      • If God intends to prevent evil, but cannot, then He isn't omnipotent.
      -My answer: He does not intend to prevent all temporal evil. He intends to allow His creatures to exercise their free will at whatever cost. That is the beauty and purpose of our existence. That is true love – which asks for a free choice of love in return.
      • If God both intends to prevent evil and is capable of doing so, then how can evil exist?
      -My answer: As stated above, God does not intend to prevent all temporal evil. Evil exists as a necessary consequence of free will. Since God will not interfere with this freedom and change our wills, He has changed our destiny. He has shown us that He understands our suffering and that He will Himself suffer in order to lead us to the dignity He wants us to achieve. Are you glad that you exist? Are you glad that you are self-aware and free to choose righteousness or unrighteousness? If not, then we need not continue this discussion. If so, then how are the conditions of our world not a consequence of love?

      November 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • Nonimus

      DJ and VC,
      Great discussion, don't let me derail it.

      @VC,
      Hopefully, just a clarification. You said, "How could anyone earn any dignity for themselves or prove their worth at all if God did not permit free will and suffering?"
      Putting aside the implications and assumptions about dignity, worthiness, and how one loses or gains them, are you saying God is incapable of eliminating evil and still allowing us to "earn dignity" and "worth"?

      November 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @Nonimus,

      God is reason, and reason does not permit contradiction. It is unreasonable that someone can prove worth without adversity. To ask if God is capable of removing evil and still allowing us to prove worth is the same as asking if God can make a stone so big He can't lift it. It is logically pointless.

      November 15, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      You said, "There seems to be a wall in your logic which you will not cross – and that is the difference between causality and necessity. Let me phrase my question in a different way: does the physical universe need to exist?

      The universe does not need to exist. It just does exist.

      I am a proponent of Naturalism. Naturalism is a metaphysical theory that holds that all phenomena can be explained mechanistically in terms of natural (as opposed to supernatural) causes and laws. Naturalism posits that the universe is a vast "machine" or "organism," devoid of general purpose and indifferent to human needs and desires.
      naturalism makes God an unnecessary hypothesis and essentially superfluous to scientific investigation. Reference to moral or divine purposes has no place in scientific explanations.

      You said, "With Einstein's discoveries, however, it was found that matter is not conserved.
      This blew apart the argument of the necessity of matter's existence, since if something can be destroyed, then it cannot have a necessary existence"

      Matter cannot be destroyed. Matter is another form of energy. The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can change its form. Do you understand your error? It is a huge difference.

      November 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @David Johnson,

      You said "The universe does not need to exist." At long last, you've finally answered my original question which began this discussion. Your answer does not disappoint, as it confirms what I suspected it would be for most who are staunch atheists today. Now we see the 'epic fail' at the core of atheistic logic: "it just does" How very reasonable and scientific of you. Consider the analogous version of this answer based on the example I gave of necessity with physical forces. If I drop an apple does it need to fall? 'It doesn't need to fall. It just does.' Is that science? No, that is a cop out. Is gravity a "science of the gaps" theory, since we only use it to explain otherwise inexplicable phenomenon? After all, no one has ever held gravity in their hand and no one has ever seen gravity. It's just a name given to a series of phenomenon. Why aren't you an "a-gravitist" as well as an "atheist"? Because you recognize that "it just does" is not an acceptable answer for why an apple needs to fall or why orbital mechanics need to behave the way they do. Why do you not apply the same rules when talking about whether or not the universe needs to exist? Is this not a more important, more poignant question?

      Regarding the conservation of energy, did you not just say this in your previous post? "In the everyday world, energy is always unalterably fixed; the law of energy conservation is a cornerstone of classical physics. But in the quantum microworld, energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion. (Davies, 1983, 162)" Energy can disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous fashion? This demonstrates my point further – matter and energy do not need to exist. You have stated your agreement with this point. Therefore, materialism is false. Naturalism apparently has little to offer but a cop-out when it comes to the questions that really matter.

      Again, the problem seems to be a logical wall. You feel that philosophy is ultimately a dead end because you've chosen to make it so. Wouldn't it be liberating to break down the wall and go a little deeper? It's amazing what our intellects are capable of.

      November 15, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Vertebrate Catholic,
      "God is reason, and reason does not permit contradiction."
      So God has limits – one being the law of non-contradiction. If God cannot break the laws of logic, then logic is independent of God. For example, the laws of man can and are broken be men. The laws of logic, the inherent/abstract ones not the human stated ones, actually transcend God.
      So, which came first, God or Logic?
      Would that make Logic the only necessity? interesting!

      November 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @Nonimus,

      God is not logical, God is logic. He is the "Logos" (see the Gospel of John). Therefore, the question of which came first, God or logic, is nonsense, as they are one and the same. Yes, literally. What we know as logic is simply a way of recognizing the nature of God. Can logic contradict itself? No. Therefore we know that God cannot contradict Himself. Is this a limitation? Only if we perceive contradiction as an actual possibility, which it is not.

      November 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      You said "The universe does not need to exist." At long last, you've finally answered my original question which began this discussion. Your answer does not disappoint, as it confirms what I suspected it would be for most who are staunch atheists today. Now we see the 'epic fail' at the core of atheistic logic: "it just does"

      Yes, the universe does not need to exist.
      I am defining "need" in this case as: a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation. Who would the duty or obligation fall on? The universe exists. It just does.

      Now, if you are asking if the universe is necessary for man's existence, then certainly. But that is silly.

      You said: Consider the analogous version of this answer based on the example I gave of necessity with physical forces. If I drop an apple does it need to fall? 'It doesn't need to fall. It just does.

      In this case, most if not all the physical forces would be necessities.
      I would use this definition of "need" for them: something essential, desirable, or useful
      The universe could not exist as we know it, if these physical forces were not present.

      After the Big Bang, only gravity, inertia and time were NECESSARY to form the entire universe.
      The physical forces are needed/essential both to the commencement and the continuation of the universe.

      You said, "Regarding the conservation of energy, did you not just say this in your previous post? "In the everyday world, energy is always unalterably fixed; the law of energy conservation is a cornerstone of classical physics. But in the quantum microworld, energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion. (Davies, 1983, 162)"

      In your previous post you said: "With Einstein's discoveries, however, it was found that matter is not conserved."
      You were talking about the Law of Conservation of Energy. You were wrong.

      You have to remember that General Relativity is about large things – Gravity. This is the everyday world Davies is talking about, where the law of energy conservation is a cornerstone.
      The Standard Model of Quantum mechanics is about the very small (subatomic) – electromagnetism, weak and strong forces.
      At the subatomic level, the two theories are not compatible.
      String Theory seems to be the best microscopic theory of gravity.

      If the string theory is correct, the entire universe is made up of strings. Tiny vibrating strings of energy.
      How the string vibrates, determines what type of subatomic particle they become.

      You said: "Energy can disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous fashion? This demonstrates my point further – matter and energy do not need to exist."

      No, no one said the energy was being destroyed. Only that it could appear and disappear in an unpredictable manner. When it disappears, it might just appear elsewhere. This adds nothing to your argument.

      You said, "Again, the problem seems to be a logical wall. You feel that philosophy is ultimately a dead end because you've chosen to make it so. Wouldn't it be liberating to break down the wall and go a little deeper? It's amazing what our intellects are capable of."

      Again, I am a freethinker. I believe opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or any dogma. Your thinking, your arguments are bathed in dogma. By digging a little deeper, you mean to accept that with cannot be proven. You demand that I have faith. LOL

      November 15, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      I think I will place each question in a separate post. It will be easier to follow.

      • If God can prevent evil, but doesn't, then He isn't all-loving.

      -Your answer: "What does it mean to love? Is love possible without sacrifice and adversity? True love must be freely chosen on both sides and can only be demonstrated by self-sacrifice. Love is not a sentiment or simply the desire to lessen the other's suffering. True love desires the growth, strength, and ultimate perfection of the other. According to Catholic theology, this world is not our home and it is incredibly fleeting. How could anyone earn any dignity for themselves or prove their worth at all if God did not permit free will and suffering? Suffering is incredibly difficult to bear and to understand, especially when it is born by the young and innocent, but it is ALWAYS a lever that raises us to new heights. God promises that all will be sorted out with justice when our short trial here has ended."

      First, on free will:
      The existence of an all-knowing God is incompatible with the fact of free will - that humans do make choices. If God is omniscient, He must know beforehand exactly what a person will do in a given situation. In that case, a person is not in fact free to do the alternative to what God knows he or she will do, and free will must be an illusion.

      Jesus predicted that Judas would betray Him and Peter would deny Him. If either of the two did not do as Jesus predicted, then Jesus/God would not be omniscient.

      In order for any biblical predictions to come true, God would have to know the future.

      Without free will and morality, any sort of divine punishment and reward system loses any justification.

      Thoughts on your comment: "Suffering is ALWAYS a lever that raises us to new heights."

      If God exists, we must have evidence that all of the evils we see are means to a higher purpose. All the pain and suffering should have the purpose of teaching. But even fundies admit there is no evidence. That is why they must resort to talking about the mysterious ways in which God works. There's no evidence at all, that 300 to 500 million people dying from Smallpox in the 20th century, is for a greater good.

      As William Rowe points out, when a fawn burns to death in a forest fire and no human being ever knows about it, this apparently unnecessary evil does nothing to build the character of human beings. It is just suffering.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      • If God intends to prevent evil, but cannot, then He isn't omnipotent.

      Your answer: "He does not intend to prevent all temporal evil. He intends to allow His creatures to exercise their free will at whatever cost. That is the beauty and purpose of our existence. That is true love – which asks for a free choice of love in return."

      This argument fails to explain why God allows natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, plagues and earthquakes. These events kill thousands of people. This indicates that the concept of "evil" is not necessarily tied to what people do.

      Furthermore, it fails to account for evil done to people against their will.

      6 million Jews are murdered. The Nazi were exercising their free will. The Jews had no choice in the matter.

      November 15, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      If there was no god, how would the world look?

      Would there be catastrophes that kill thousands? Would we have disease that causes untold suffering? Would there be war? Would babies starve in their mother's arms? Would children be born with birth defects? Would we have people who attack children?

      Wait! All these horrors happen right now. And you say there is a god.

      If you cannot tell the difference between god and no god, then what good is god?

      Science tests medicine all the time. They compare patient's conditions before and after taking the drug. If there is no difference, the drug is thrown out. It is declared useless!

      You said: God promises that all will be sorted out with justice when our short trial here has ended."

      Believers are always seeing pie in the sky. It has been used to calm those enslaved and mistreated. It has caused people to blow themselves to bits, expecting 72 virgins in the afterlife.

      There is no proof of an afterlife. No 72 virgins are waiting. No smiling Jesus to wipe our tears.

      All of your talk of love is revolting. You are talking about a god and his "children". Would you allow your children, any child to suffer? Would you allow a cancer to grow on their brain, if you could prevent it? Where's the love brother Catholic?

      Would you burn anyone forever? If you had a puppy and it peed on the floor, would you hold it over a burner?

      Your god murdered men, women and children including babies.

      A man loved god. God made a bet with Satan, that even if the man's children were killed, his possessions taken, and he was tortured, the man would not curse god. God won the bet. He even gave Job new kids. I guess the old kids were just, out of luck. So much for respecting human life. TO WIN A BET!

      God convinced a man and his son, that the son would be sacrificed to Him. He stops the human sacrifice at the last moment. Another animal was sacrificed instead. Do you know how traumatic that would be for father and son? Can a god be that insecure?

      How can you trust an immoral god?

      Jesus had this to say:
      Matthew 7:17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
      Luke 6:43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.

      A good god can't do evil things! So, god could be evil or he could not exist. I'm checking the "doesn't exist" box, myself.

      Why is there so much suffering/evil if god is omni-benevolent and omnipotent? Either god doesn't care or He does not exist. Which one gets your vote? LOL!

      Cheers!

      November 16, 2010 at 9:34 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Vertebrate Catholic,
      "God is not logical, God is logic. He is the 'Logos'..."

      Avoiding the equivocal rabbit-hole of the word / Logos, for now, I'm wondering how the statement, "God is logic," is not a self contradiction. Logic, to me, is an abstract idea like mathematics or the laws of physics. God, if he exists, on the other hand is a being, supreme or otherwise, and therefore not an abstract idea. How can something be both an idea and not an idea at the same time. Doesn't the law of noncontradiction disallow both A and Not A being true at the same time?

      Assuming "God is logic," is true, does that mean that the Devil, or hell, can be self-contradictory. If God is good and evil is the absence of God, and since God is logic, is the absence of God essentially a state of or ability for self-contradiction. In other words, is it possible for A and Not A to both be true at the same time in hell? Or when sinning, denying God, etc.?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:01 am |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @David Johnson,

      I must confess that I'm a but of a neophyte when it comes to topics like string theory, having only taken a couple undergraduate Physics classes and done a small amount of independent reading. I think it's fascinating and would love to learn more about it. I maintain, though, that no matter what level of granularity you achieve when it comes to understanding physics, it is ultimately still the case that bodies obey physical laws out of necessity. I'm not sure why you make a distinction between the definition of necessity in regards to Physical laws and in regards to existence. I say necessity can have the same definition in both contexts – why not? If something is necessary then it only has one possible outcome, and that is the outcome that will invariably occur. If it is unnecessary then it also has one possible outcome (it will not happen), unless something else necessitates it. So if the universe's existence is not necessary in this sense, then how does it exist? Unless there is a "law" which dictates that the universe must exist (which would mean its existence was necessary) or it has been necessitated by some other necessary existence, then its existence goes against every scientific principle.

      You said "Again, I am a freethinker. I believe opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or any dogma. Your thinking, your arguments are bathed in dogma. By digging a little deeper, you mean to accept that with cannot be proven. You demand that I have faith."
      While I don't feel that this particular line of argument requires any faith or dogma, I won't deny that I love the antiquated dogma of the Church. After all, it is only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be considered antiquated, to quote Chesterton. I'm sure it is quite similar to your love of the dogma of science. Are you free to disbelieve the law of gravity or the theory of evolution? Sure, but you won't because you'd think that would be craziness. Just like I'm free to disbelieve in the resurrection of Christ or the Assumption of Mary, but I won't because I think that would be craziness. You see, my faith in the dogma of the Church is based upon solid reasoning regarding authority and expertise on matters of faith and morals. I'd love to explain it sometime. I promise the reasoning isn't simply that "it's in the Bible" (though it is) or that "it just feels right" (though it does).

      I've gotta run, so I'll respond to your posts about God and evil later.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      So if the universe's existence is not necessary in this sense, then how does it exist? Unless there is a "law" which dictates that the universe must exist (which would mean its existence was necessary) or it has been necessitated by some other necessary existence, then its existence goes against every scientific principle.

      You are straining to make your god the necessary being upon which all things depend. Pfui!

      The entire universe may be a matter of random chance. How many times has the Big Bang occurred, and then gravity stopped the outward expansion and the Big Crunch occurred? One time? A billion times?

      Prof. Hawking believes that black holes, evaporate, like a puddle in the sun. The reason the black hole evaporates, is not because it loses material, but because negative particles are entering (being captured by) the black hole. Positive particles escape. These positive particles emit light and heat as they escape. This heat and light is called Hawking Radiation. As the black hole evaporates completely, it explodes emitting heat and light and maybe other material.
      The black hole may be a small model of the singularity and the Big Bang. Time will tell.

      Prof. Hawking"s theory had a fatal flaw. The flaw was gravity. In order for the material of the singularity to expand and form the universe, gravity would need to become much, much weaker at the moment of the Big Bang. If gravity remained strong, it would suck the material back in, before it expanded. The universe would not be possible if gravity remained strong.

      Enter string theory! If gravity was diluted over several dimensions, this would account for the gravity becoming much weaker, at the Big Bang. It would allow the universe to form.

      Science is ever so much more exciting than a "god did it" explanation. Once you decide god does something, then you are done. The search is over. Nothing more is learned. You have your answer. Let's all go home.

      To allow a "god did/does it " explanation, is to allow man's knowledge to stagnate. Science cannot progress.

      Cheers!

      November 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      You said: "Are you free to disbelieve the law of gravity or the theory of evolution? Sure, but you won't because you'd think that would be craziness. Just like I'm free to disbelieve in the resurrection of Christ or the Assumption of Mary, but I won't because I think that would be craziness. You see, my faith in the dogma of the Church is based upon solid reasoning regarding authority and expertise on matters of faith and morals. I'd love to explain it sometime. I promise the reasoning isn't simply that "it's in the Bible" (though it is) or that "it just feels right" (though it does).

      My belief in Evolution and gravity is not the same as your belief in god, Assumption of Mary, Resurrection of Jesus, or any other supernatural occurrence.

      Simply put, my belief is not based on faith. Science is EVIDENCE based. Religion is FAITH based. Evolution, could be falsified tomorrow. Someone could find mammals in Precambrian rocks.

      Your belief that Mary ascended bodily into Heaven and Jesus returned from the dead, is based on your faith.

      No amount of solid reasoning is worth actual proof. I've noticed that believers always "reason" their way into whatever they wish to believe.

      Cheers!

      November 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @David Johnson,

      Regarding free will – You're asserting that God's knowledge of future events somehow compromises free will. This is not so, since God is outside of both space and time. In the eternal "now" of God, He is able to know all things. What it is that he knows, being outside of time as He is, is dependent upon what we do with our free will in time. It's very difficult to think of what it means to be outside of time since we tend to think in a linear fashion. One analogy within time would be a video. Someone making a video is free to do as they please while filming, and it in no way compromises their free will that a viewer will watch the video when they are finished. It just so happens that the viewer is outside of the linear constraints of time and has already seen it. The people in the video have complete freedom, because if they had something different while filming, that's what the viewer would see instead.
      Regarding suffering – I don't think all suffering needs to teach. Some of it is just a consequence of reckless behavior. We can still use it to grow, but it wasn't always necessarily intended for that purpose. Sin damages the fabric of the universe in a very real way! It's not reasonable to assert that certain natural disasters were necessarily caused by specific sinful behavior or anything like that, but I can say for sure that if man had never sinned at all there would be no natural disasters and no death. I know it might sound like crazy metaphysics, but I think it is consistent with everything else that the Church teaches about the nature of God and creation. If God is the basis for all order and reason in the universe, then when creatures begin to behave in a disordered and unreasonable way, we affect the world around us. Just as the actions of one affect other people, they also affect the world which was created for man. Again, to accept this you have to recognize that God has given dominion over the world to man. If you buy a car for your teenage son and "give him dominion over it", he becomes responsible for any scratches, dents, and problems that come about as a result of his misuse of the car. It's certainly not a perfect analogy, but it might give a little clarity to what I mean. We're talking about more than just the effects of physical misuse of the world, though. The effects of spiritual misuse can, in Catholic teaching, manifest themselves physically (and vice-versa) since the physical and the spiritual are closely related. Again, this answer requires a belief in the spiritual, but since I am explaining Catholic teaching on the subject, my responses operate under the assumption of its existence. Any question of God must assume the existence of non-physical reality. As far as the Nazis go, yes their disordered exercise of free will had devastating effects on countless people who had no say in the matter. Again, this is a necessary consequence of free will.
      You asked "If there was no god, how would the world look?"
      My answer: The world wouldn't look like anything, since it wouldn't exist. There are 2 alternatives to our present world – a) nothingness, b) you would be a mindless drone. Either we're free to behave and do with our world as we like or we're drones. It is what it is. Anything less is not love. We aren't God's children in the sense of a biological relationship nor is God's love temporal and emotional. For me to convey any sense of the sort of love God has for us, you have to assume at least for the sake of argument that we have everlasting souls. Only in the light of this fact can you begin to understand what it means to love someone with an eternal love. The fact that some diabolical individuals have exercised their free will to usurp the concept of eternal life for twisted purposes does not make it any less true. People love to use charities for their own personal or political advantage, which is detestable, but that doesn't make charities any less helpful. This issue is absolutely critical, and if you can't accept the notion of the eternal soul, it is impossible for you to understand anything about God or His love. From the perspective of eternity, no physical suffering lasts or really hurts us. What matters is the perfection of our souls. Sure this has been used to justify cruelty but so has atheistic logic to an even higher degree. If there is no objective standard for morality or justice you can justify absolutely anything.
      Thanks for the info on string theory. I'll be interested to see how research into this field develops. I staunchly contest your implication that recognition of God somehow does away with scientific curiosity. It's simply not true. Science is incapable of answering the question of necessity and contingency and questions of ultimate meaning and value. This is not at all to the discredit of science, as that is not its purpose. Its purpose is to learn about the natural universe and how it behaves. Knowing that it all ultimately has meaning and value only serves to intensify the desire for scientific knowledge.
      As far as dogma is concerned – You believe most of what you do about science based on faith as well. Not blind faith, of course, but faith nonetheless. Have you performed these experiments or derived all these equations for yourself? Certainly not all of them. For much of your scientific knowledge you trust in the authority and expertise of respected scientists and the testament of consensus. No teaching of the Catholic Church is to be accepted with blind faith. There are libraries upon libraries of books by Catholic theologians trying to shed every bit of reasonable light they can on every aspect of our faith. Our teachings are explained in light of history, psychology, philosophy, physics, biology, chemistry, music, art, politics, personal experience, and the list goes on and on. You could probably never read all the material that exists to explain even one single teaching of the Church. No one is asked to believe on blind faith. We put our faith in Christ and His Church's teachings because we have solid reasons to do so. Furthermore, the more I've learned about Catholic teaching, the more I've realized that it's perfectly consistent with my own experience of the world. Wherever there is something strange in Catholic teaching, there is inevitably something strange in the truth.

      @Nonimus, I'm asserting that logic is definitively not just an abstract concept, but is actually a person. Why does 1 + 2 = 3? God. Our understanding of logic is based upon an objective standard. I'd say it's quite possible that 1 + 2 = 4 in hell. Perhaps what is symbolized by physical flames (which is most probably not a literal description of hell, since it is a spiritual place) is actually a state of being in which CNN and Fox News are both right. When we sin, we are behaving in a disordered and illogical way, though we are not yet completely outside of the presence of logic as long as we are alive. I've never really thought about this before, but it makes sense to me.

      November 16, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrate Catholic

      I think we have hit your wall. Basically your defense to what I have written about free will and suffering, is: "God is Magic".

      What about God's Great Plan, in which he knows our future and coordinates it? Then free will is impossible. Either God has a plan for us, or we have free will. Both cannot be true. The phrase "It's all part of god's great plan", negates free will.

      If god can know the future, then the future is predestined. Some claim that god purposely limits His knowledge of the future (inherent omniscience). This still does not change the fact that everything is predestined. Even if I don't watch a movie, it does not mean that the movie can end differently. The future is predictable and cannot be changed, if god is all knowing.

      It doesn't matter where God resides.

      God would know who was going to be "saved" and who would one day burn forever, before they are ever born. This is actually what the 5 point Calvinists believe. Think: Westboro Baptist Church.

      Your thoughts on suffering: "It's not reasonable to assert that certain natural disasters were necessarily caused by specific sinful behavior or anything like that, but I can say for sure that if man had never sinned at all there would be no natural disasters and no death."

      So, you maintain man did it to ourselves. Really? Did these things spontaneously generate? So when a person is placed under the lash or upon the rack, he brought it upon himself? No matter how hideous the penalty, the person applying the punishment bears no guilt? Did no one fashion the lash or devise the rack?

      No matter how much you dislike the fact, God is responsible for the suffering. He doesn't get a pass. How can He?

      You said: "I know it might sound like crazy metaphysics, but I think it is consistent with everything else that the Church teaches about the nature of God and creation."

      You are spouting your religious rhetoric. You offer no proof. You are doing no better than your protestant counterparts. Your entire comment is nothing more than Catholic dogma. Next, you will quote passages from your bible.

      You said: "As far as the Nazis go, yes their disordered exercise of free will had devastating effects on countless people who had no say in the matter. Again, this is a necessary consequence of free will."

      Even if it is a consequence of the Nazi free will, the Jews did not have "free will". A child who is attacked and killed did not have "free will". The child and the Jews had no choice in the matter.
      So, this means the strong have greater "free will" than the weak? How can this "free will", be god given if it is not given to everyone equally?

      What about the atrocities committed by God Himself. You didn't address these.

      I am done. Your arguments were not good my Catholic friend. You ducked the hard questions.

      You base your arguments on faith and that feeling in your heart. You do as the Protestants do, and vomit your dogma, thinking it is evidence.
      But, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and the more than 2000 different denomination of Christians all feel their god, in their hearts. All have faith. Some, enough to blow themselves to bits.

      I have answered your Uncaused Cause questions. You have not done mine justice. I am bored now. If I wanted a lesson in Catholic dogma, I'd attend Catechism classes.

      Live a long life – There is nothing beyond this one.

      You said: "

      November 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @David Johnson,
      My entire purpose in discussing the topic of free will and suffering was to explain the Catholic teaching to you on this matter, since you made an attempt to disprove God's existence based on Catholic teaching (that God is all knowing, all powerful, and all loving). You should not be surprised that my answer consisted of Catholic dogma. What else was I supposed to discuss, Scientology? Also, I never said that everyone who suffers is responsible for their own suffering, just that someone's free will is responsible. No, a victim of murder is not responsible for their murder, the murderer is responsible. You can't have free will at all unless the murderer can have it too... otherwise it isn't free. Both the murderer and the victim have free will to their last breath, just like you. Unfortunately free will means some can interfere with the lives of others through physical force... it is what it is. Even a prisoner and a dying person have free will, just not so much physically.
      Regarding God's plan – He guides us but does not coerce us. No one's free will is ever taken away, as I'm sure is quite clear from looking at the world. No, "everything" is not a part of God's plan. A lot of it is a part of our plans, since we are autonomous. You'll never hear me say that a mass murder of innocents is a part of God's plan, because it isn't. It is most certainly a deviation from God's plan.
      Regarding the "atrocities committed by God himself" – God is the Lord of life and death and you are not.

      It's been good talking with you for the last few days David. Thanks for taking the time to have a good discussion, it's nice to find someone interested in a serious debate. May you find peace in your soul. Pax Christi,
      ~VC

      November 17, 2010 at 12:19 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Vertebrate Catholic,
      "I'm asserting that logic is definitively not just an abstract concept, but is actually a person."
      I guess you are free to assert, or declare, whatever you like including, that by definition logic is both an abstract idea and a person. However, I don't think logic itself agrees with you. How can the thing that supposedly maintains the law of non-contradiction in you view, i.e. God/logic, be itself a contradiction? Seems like a case of special pleading, to me.

      Thank you for the discussion.

      November 17, 2010 at 9:06 am |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @Nonimus,
      In a sense, our understanding of God is abstract. Our knowledge of God and the concept that we call logic are both abstract in a way. God Himself – the concrete foundation upon which our understanding of logic is based – is not abstract at all, though, and is quite real. The only reason we are able to have abstract ideas is because there is something concrete to base them on or contrast them with.

      November 17, 2010 at 11:56 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Vertebrae Catholic

      I also enjoyed the exchange. I am sorry if I offended you in any way.

      If I were to "pick" a religion, it would be Catholicism that I would embrace.

      I deeply respect you, and wish you well.

      November 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Vertebrate Catholic,
      "...the concrete foundation upon which our understanding of logic is based..."
      "The only reason we are able to have abstract ideas is because there is something concrete to base them on ..."
      You realize that these are just assertions and you have provided no reason to accept them as true, right?

      November 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Some_Truth

      Vertebrate Catholic,

      "the murder of innocents...It is most certainly a deviation from God's plan."

      How do you know this? You (believers) often say, "We do not understand God's mysterious plan", but then you go on in the next breath to say that you do understand certain, select parts. Why does "God" have to be only good (according to your specifications of 'good') or perfect, or wise? Why do you believe in the hallucinatory or delusional or contrived 'visions' of primitive Middle Eastern men, who claimed to know what this "God" wants, needs and the rewards it bestows? Why do you believe the words of 1st century evangelists who could say *anything* as they tried to promote their new religion, and who may have been equally delusional?

      The fact is that you know nothing about this "God".

      November 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @Some_Truth,
      Whatever God's plan for us is, we know its ultimate purpose: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

      November 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • Vertebrate Catholic

      @Nonimus,
      I've only explained my understanding of what Catholic teaching on this subject is. I haven't attempted to explain why you should accept the authority or expertise of the Church on these matters, as that would require much more time and detail. If you're sincerely interested, I would HIGHLY recommend you read "The Everlasting Man" by G.K. Chesterton.

      November 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • Imyrl

      Such a very good conversation. Explained very well VC. You sound very Dominican!

      November 19, 2010 at 9:11 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Vertebrate Catholic,
      Fair enough.
      Thanks for the book, I might look into it.

      November 19, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  19. liz48

    The Roman catholic church does not see demons nor does it do any of the works of Jesus, such as healing the sick and raising the dead! (Mark 16:17-18). This church was the door to much error and persecution of the first Christians. They introduced a compromise between paganism and a seeming Christianity. Many of the rituals in the church derive from pagan practices. According to the Word of God; The Lord hates mixture and compromise. Christians were robbed of the power and authority of walking in the Truth of the Word of God. Such doctrines are called doctrines of demons! Sadly the protestant and pentecostal churches still cling onto much Roman catholic tradition like the clergy-laity division. Many so called "Christians" in the leadership of compromised teaching are themselves demonized. They have resisted the Truth and have been given to believe a lie! 2Thessolonians 2:9-11.

    So, no Roman catholic should be surprised that they do not see demons or hear of exorcisms; satan will not cast out satan! Matthew 12:26.

    November 13, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  20. Vertebrate Catholic

    @Steve, you're right, the Summa might be a bit much for a theo newbie. It's even a bit much for the experts sometimes. I would also highly suggest reading G.K. Chestrerton's "Orthodoxy" or "The Everlasting Man".

    November 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.