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Did Pope Francis Really Say All Atheists are Redeemed?

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Pope Francis

Yesterday, the Internet buzzed about some recent remarks from Pope Francis. A headline at Huffington Post read: "Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics". A similar Reddit article became yesterday's second most-shared piece.

But was the headline right? Did the Pope really suggest that all atheists are redeemed? And if so, is this a shift in Catholic teaching?

To answer those questions we must first note the Gospel passage Pope Francis preached on when he made the statement, Mark 9:38-40:
 

"John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.”"

 
Jesus' point here is that it's wrong to think people can't do good simply because they aren't Christian. As Pope Francis explained, “This [belief] was wrong...Jesus broadens the horizon...The root of this possibility of doing good—that we all have—is in creation."

From this passage and quote we discover that Pope Francis was primarily concerned with the possibility of goodness, not redemption. But then he continued:
 

"[A]ll of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can..."The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!...We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there."

 
What should we make of the claim that "The Lord has redeemed all of us...Even the atheists"? Well first, this is nothing new, and therefore hardly "news." The Catholic Church has maintained for two-thousand years that Christ's sacrificial death was for all (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15 and 1 Peter 3:18.) As the Church teaches in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
 

"At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us. The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.” — (CCC, 605)

 
However in Catholic thought, Christ's redemptive sacrifice on the Cross is not the same thing as salvation. Salvation is the result of accepting Christ's redemption and applying it to our lives. Catholics know that Christ died for our sins but that we must receive that free gift by trusting in him, accepting his proposal of love, and following him with our life.

So while it's true that Christ redeemed all people, even atheists, that doesn't mean all atheists have accepted this gift or will be saved.

Perhaps an example will help clarify the difference between redemption and salvation. Suppose you destroyed your friend's car causing $10,000 in damage. You're taken to court, and the judge sentences you to five years in prison for the crime. But then I burst in and tell the judge, "My name is Brandon Vogt. I'm this man's friend and I want to pay his penalty. Whatever it costs to fix the car and make things right, I'll pay it." The judge agrees.

Now even though I offer to pay the charge and "redeem" you, you still have a choice. You can either accept my offer and become a free man or you can reject my offer and choose to go to jail. The choice, of course, would be yours.

Christ's redemption of all mankind is analogous to me paying off your $10,000 charge (to "redeem" literally means "to buy back" or "to restore.") Catholics understand that Christ paid the debt for every person, but we still must choose whether to accept that act of redemption—it's not forced on you. You make your choice by whom you give ultimate allegiance: God or yourself, selfless love or self-imposed prison.

Finally, what about the last part of the HuffPost headline? Is it true that all who do good are redeemed? The answer, again, is "Yes" since all people are redeemed by Christ's sacrifice. Whether you live a good life is completely irrelevant to redemption. As Mark Shea writes:
 

"All who do good, and all who do evil, and all saints, and all Nazis, and pirates, and Communists and Mormons, Swedenborgians, and Satanists, and plumbers, and students who are getting Fs, and little kids and old coots, and profoundly brain-damaged folk and really brilliant scientists, and tall, and fat, and short people, and Muslims, and atheists, and Jews, and Buddhists and everybody else with a pulse are redeemed. Stalin is redeemed along with St. Damien of Molokai, Jack the Ripper and St. Francis of Assisi are both redeemed."

 
Catholics believe Jesus Christ died for every human being without exception. This redemption has nothing to do with our goodness, and everything to do with God's overwhelming generosity. Redemption is universal, salvation is not. Redemption is a proposal we must accept and salvation is the result.
 
 
(Image credit: PopeResigns.net)

Brandon Vogt

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Brandon Vogt is an award-winning writer, blogger, speaker, and the founder of StrangeNotions.com. He's been featured by several media outlets including NPR, CBS, FoxNews, SiriusXM, and EWTN. Brandon converted to Catholicism in 2008, and in 2011 and since released several books, including The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) and Saints and Social Justice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014). He works as the Content Director for Fr. Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their four children in Central Florida. Follow his blog at BrandonVogt.com or connect through Twitter at @BrandonVogt.

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  • Steven Greydanus

    The Huffington Post story badly garbled Pope Francis' words in a number of ways. Their headline reads, "Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics," when in fact the pope's comments apply to all atheists without reservation, not just those who "do good."

    Later in the article they slip from the pope's use of the past tense ("The Lord has redeemed all of us") to the future tense: " not all Christians believe that those who don't believe will be redeemed." Obviously, the writer confuses redemption and salvation, which, as Brandon says, are not the same thing.

    • Longshanks

      I have to admit, this has always been my understanding of your church's teaching. It must be frustrating to be misunderstood and/or misrepresented about something so basic and transparent.

      • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

        Thanks, Longshanks! We appreciate the commiseration. And yes, it is.

      • Alfred Vella

        There is one salvation only through Christ Jesus.unbelievers and religions won't be saved.In Christ Alone is there salvation by Grace,it's a free gift,Faith and obedience is needed not works.Atheist and the pope must change to earn salvation,call no ONE Father except the Father in heaven said the Lord.Amen

        • JB

          You're crazy. It has always been a metaphorical concept, there is no fucking adam and eve, God is a concept, and jesus christ was just a man, who understood the way the universe works... kinda like david blaine or chris angel, if they were alive in jesus' day they would have been crucified to. Stop pushing your beliefs on everyone, you aren't right. Why is there a 1000 diffreent religions, with many diffreent gods, but your god is the only one that is actual? Thats just naive, greedy, narcissistic, and obtuse. Give your head a shake

          • Muhammad Isa

            Brother, you dont know anything... you judge because you just see what comes from the appereance.. learn about religion first before you judge something... You'll never understand Him if you are only standing at your logical views... our mind is only as big as a glass.. God's plan, power and mind is as big as the ocean... how can you put all the ocean inside your "glass"?

  • Andrew G.

    "You are charged with one count of Original Sin. How do you plead?"

    Atheist: "Not Guilty"

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      I'm not sure what your point is here. Does pleading "not guilty" ensure your innocence? O.J. Simpson pleaded "not guilty"...

      • Andre Boillot

        I'll let Andrew speak for himself, but I think the point was that your accident / original sin analogy is hard to accept for somebody that thinks they had no say in original sin. I mean, thanks for offering to pay the debt and all, but why was the debt placed at our feet to begin with?

        • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

          Andre, ah thanks for the clarification. I think I understand. I'll bracket the "original sin" question for now--perhaps we can cover it here later--but Catholics agree with St. Paul that "the wages of sin are death" (Romans 6:23). This doesn't only include "original sin" but also "actual sin," which we all commit after the age of reason (Roman 3:23). In other words, we all do have a debt: the sin we intentionally commit.

          Sin is, by definition, a willful turning away from God and his redemptive offer. If we die in a state of grave sin then our answer to God's offer is decidedly "No."

        • Dcn Harbey Santiago

          Hi Andre,

          To paraphrase the ineffable Pierre de Fermant, I have a good answer for this I just do not have the space to write about it here.But, In very short words; Original Sin is not a sin and is not original to you. It refers to the inability humans have to "connect" to God in a spiritual level. Somehow in our history we lost that. How we know? Concupiscence, our tendency towards sin and disordered passions.

          "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
          Deacon Harbey Santiago

        • Andre Boillot

          Brandon & Deacon Santiago,

          You'll forgive me if I read this:

          "By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all humans. Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called "original sin". As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence")."

          http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1C.HTM

          ...and come away feeling as if we're told we're born broken and commanded to be well. Again, it's nice that the redemption offer is out there, though it seems like the least he could do, all things considered.

          • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

            Andre, I don't see the issue with that paragraph from the Catechism, and it's not clear to me from your last couple sentences what your hangup is. Can you please clarify?

          • Andre Boillot

            Brandon,

            What's my "hangup?"

            "As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin"

            You don't see the issue with 'the sins of the father' forever hampering the ability of the children to regain the holiness lost? No problem being weak and predisposed to sin, through no fault of your own? Does this help you see what my "hangup" is?

          • Steven Greydanus

            we're told we're born broken and commanded to be well.

            That is a fair characterization.

            The only bit you're leaving out is that the "offer of redemption" isn't simply a restoration of status quo, but an elevation to a far more glorious state than would have been possible without fall and redemption. That's why Adam's original sin is called felix culpa, "happy fault." We have been allowed to fall in order to make possible a more glorious final end.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Hmmm @Steven Greydanus: You are starting to sound like a Deacon chanting the Exulted at the Easter Vigil. ;-)

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            Deacon Harbey Santiago

          • Steven Greydanus

            You are starting to sound like a Deacon chanting the Exulted at the Easter Vigil. ;-)

            In a few more years, Deacon. A few more years. :-)

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven,

            "We have been allowed to fall in order to make possible a more glorious final end."

            To me, this is twisted. Eternal bliss united with the all-loving creator just wouldn't be as sweet without having suffered and struggled on Earth, predisposed to sin, and risking eternal damnation. Nice.

          • Mark Hunter

            Andre - Once one steps out the mindset this "Sim-World" becomes perverse.

          • mgcruss

            Twisted, yes. Even having been raised Catholic I had not heard of the "happy fault" concept. I credit this site for teaching me something new but I'm afraid this new knowledge is making me even less likely to want to 'come home'.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            The Felix Culpa refers to the Incarnation, God becoming man, and to the Eucharist, God becoming one with us. If there was no original sin, God would have never joined his nature to ours through the Incarnation. It doesn't make Heaven better. It makes life better, because we can come to know God more intimately, and he has elevated our nature.

          • Steven Greydanus

            Andre:

            "We have been allowed to fall in order to make possible a more glorious final end."

            To me, this is twisted. Eternal bliss united with the all-loving creator just wouldn't be as sweet without having suffered and struggled on Earth, predisposed to sin, and risking eternal damnation. Nice.

            Hm. It seems to me your comments assume that the benefit of struggling and suffering in a world of evil is simply that in the end you appreciate God and heaven more -- like the man who hits his head because it feels so good when he stops.

            That's not what I'm saying. Consider a baby who happens to die (painlessly, in her sleep, let's say) after baptism and goes straight to heaven. Then consider a saint in heaven who has struggled and suffered on earth, exhibiting heroic virtue under great duress, perhaps even being martyred, and finally passing (perhaps after a time in purgatory) into Heaven. The difference between the two is emphatically not just that one appreciates heaven more than the other!

            The saint who has struggled and suffered, who has honored his King on the field of battle, and by God's grace merited reward in his struggle, has achieved something that no one could ever hope to enjoy in a world without sin or evil. His beatitude in heaven is something objectively far greater than anyone could enjoy without fall and redemption.

            For what it's worth, I can understand not believing this. I can't really understand finding it "twisted," or not being able to appreciate it at least on some aesthetic or mythical level. To me it seems that even if I ceased to believe it, I would think it was a beautiful story. Of course the bad parts of a story make the ending better, and the hero who has suffered the most is the most honored by the author and the reader alike.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Steven Greydanus,

            It seems to me the greater the saint, the less like he or she is to say, "I did it against all odds, and I am so proud!" about being saved." By your reasoning, I would think that the Virgin Mary, in the Catholic tradition, would be one of the lesser saints. She was, after all, exempted from Original Sin.

            Also, I believe in the Catholic tradition, no one merits salvation.

            Finally, again in the Catholic tradition, the Fall was not part of God's plan. Are you claiming things worked out better for many people because of the Fall? Heaven is more precious to some because they had to struggle to get there?

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            You're right on the first two points, but the Fall, while it brought evil into the physical world and our nature, was also the source of the Incarnation. God became man, and we got the Eucharist, God becoming one with us. If there was no original sin, God would have never joined his nature to ours through the Incarnation.

            So things did work out better, but not because we struggle for salvation. Things worked out better because God became man, and human nature is united with divine in Christ. And the Eucharist.

          • Mark Neal

            Hi Epicus,

            > "If there was no original sin, God would have never joined his nature to ours through the Incarnation."

            Are you sure about that?

            My understanding is that the Incarnation (and the Virgin Mary) had been planned since before the beginning of time. The revelation of this plan beforehand to the angels is part of what caused Satan to rebel (he didn't want to serve a human Queen). In fact, Christ and Mary are the very reason why the Creation happened in the first place. If there had been no Fall, then there would still have been an Incarnation, but the Messiah would not have had to die. Hence, the Eucharist would have simply been the same Fruit of the Tree of Life that our first parents originally had.

            I could be wrong, and if I am, please correct me, but I'm pretty sure the world exists for the Incarnation, not the other way around.

            Mark

          • Steven Greydanus

            David Nickol,

            Thanks, I appreciate your thoughtful cross-examination.

            It seems to me the greater the saint, the less like he or she is to say, "I did it against all odds, and I am so proud!" about being saved."

            Quite right. But the divine welcome "Well done, good and faithful servant" can carry countless inflections, and the more we have pleased the One who is our life and happiness, the more blessed and happy we will be. The attitude of the great saint in heaven is not "How great I am," but "How happy I am with God's pleasure and reward."

            The one who dies as a baby and goes straight to heaven is perfectly happy to be there, but has not the additional happiness of having served and honored God in the world. Both scripture and tradition make it clear that God rewards us according to our works.

            By your reasoning, I would think that the Virgin Mary, in the Catholic tradition, would be one of the lesser saints. She was, after all, exempted from Original Sin.

            That is a very good rejoinder. I have some quick thoughts, but before answering I'd rather mull it over awhile and see what else occurs to me.

            Also, I believe in the Catholic tradition, no one merits salvation.

            Correct, in the strict sense of "merit." Strictly speaking, only Jesus has a claim of merit on the Father. This is with respect to what is called "condign" or strict merit. In Catholic theology there's a distinction between "condign" and "congruent" merit. We cannot merit eternal life or heavenly reward condignly or strictly, but we can merit "congruently." "Merit" in this sense is not something we have earned on our own; it's a reward that God gives to us in view of His promises and what has been worked in and by us through the grace of Christ.

            Finally, again in the Catholic tradition, the Fall was not part of God's plan. Are you claiming things worked out better for many people because of the Fall? Heaven is more precious to some because they had to struggle to get there?

            To say that "the Fall was not part of God's plan" is at the very least to resolve too quickly a number of complex and in some cases open theological questions. Certainly we can't imagine that the Fall caught God by surprise, or that He had to improvise as a result of it, so that the Incarnation and atonement of Christ is a sort of patch job on the universe. Certainly it is traditional Catholic teaching that the final state of the Blessed is far more glorious than it would have been in an unfallen world, and not simply because Heaven is "more precious" because of the struggle, but because to be redeemed and glorified is a different thing than to be unfallen.

          • Andre Boillot

            Steve,

            "His beatitude in heaven is something objectively far greater than anyone could enjoy without fall and redemption."

            It's nice that you think there's a VIP lounge in heaven. How does that make everyone else up there feel? Is heaven also stratified, just like Earth?

            I'm not really concerned with the idea that there's a cool-kids table in heaven. The idea that the risk of Hell is necessary for a seat at that table is what bothers me.

          • Steven Greydanus

            It's nice that you think there's a VIP lounge in heaven. How does that make everyone else up there feel? Is heaven also stratified, just like Earth?

            I'm not really concerned with the idea that there's a cool-kids table in heaven. The idea that the risk of Hell is necessary for a seat at that table is what bothers me.

            I don't think dismissive images like "VIP lounge" or "cool kids table" are helpful. Envy and resentment are the language of hell. Even on earth I can be proud of my own achievements while admiring and celebrating the greater achievements of another. That there are "strata" or degrees of sanctity and beatitude in eternal life is simply another way of saying that this life truly matters.

            I do understand being "bothered" by the risk of hell. To that I can only repeat what I said above: Existence, even broken and perilous existence, is a gift, and this life we have -- with suffering and evil, God made man, death, resurrection, resurrection, peril of hell, promise of Heaven -- is better than the risk-free alternative.

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven,

            "Existence, even broken and perilous existence, is a gift, and this life we have -- with suffering and evil, God made man, death, resurrection, resurrection, peril of hell, promise of Heaven -- is better than the risk-free alternative."

            I'm sure that's what everyone that thinks they're on the right side of things says. I wonder what those who consistently fail in their struggles to overcome their broken natures, and live with the fear that they will not be saved - I wonder how they feel about the alternative you dismiss.

          • Steven Greydanus

            I'm sure that's what everyone that thinks they're on the right side of things says. I wonder what those who consistently fail in their struggles to overcome their broken natures, and live with the fear that they will not be saved - I wonder how they feel about the alternative you dismiss.

            If I may, Andre, let me say I think "dismiss" is a slightly stronger word than I would use myself. I don't dismiss it; I greatly prefer risk-free living myself, and I live in fear of things incalculably less serious than hell!

            However, since I believe that this world is what it is in the plan and providence of God, and since I believe that God is the sum of all perfection, I affirm what I do as an act of faith in God's goodness. I don't pretend it's not an easy thing to say. It's hard in the shadowlands of this side of eternity.

            Part of the Christian belief in the Last Judgment is that the full accounting of every person's story and last end will, in the end, unambiguously reveal to all the truth of the justice of God. In this life I'm often baffled by the particulars, but I'm in no doubt about the final outcome.

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven, that's fair enough (even if we disagree). Thanks for the chat.

          • Steven Greydanus

            Thank you, Andre.

          • ariofrio

            Steven, I sent a reply to Andre's comment, and I'd love to hear what you think about what I said: http://www.strangenotions.com/atheists-redeemed/#comment-914753196

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Hi Andre,

            Well, as a Class A+ sinner who has majored in his own brokenness for all of his life, I can only echo St Paul's sentiment in his letter to the Philippians "I work in my salvation with fear and trembling" every day.
            How do I cope you might ask... I pray, I trust and I don't worry.

            :-)

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"

            Deacon Harbey Santiago

          • ariofrio

            I would further add (but please, check with someone more knowledgeable than myself) that it is unnecessary for those people to live in fear that they will not be saved. Only those who die in the state of mortal sin will go to hell, but it is not easy to commit mortal sin. Importantly, one must commit the acts with complete and deliberate consent. (But I don't mean to overemphasize that, because "Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin." CCC 1859)

            Everyone consistently fails in their struggles to overcome their broken natures. Some struggle in small things, some struggle in bigger things. But if one is trying their best, asking for God's help, asking for friends' help, and fails, how can that be deliberate? How can that constitute complete consent?

            No, those who might fear hell would be those who choose it, in full knowledge, and in full consent.

            So I think Steven's words might be more accurately expressed as "Existence is better than an alternative where we don't have the choice to reject God."

            I'd love to hear Steven's thoughts on my commentary, as well. He said somewhere down below that one can implicitly choose hell through bad choices, just like one can implicitly chose heaven through virtuous choices. I wonder how he relates that with Catechism's definition of mortal sin.

          • Longshanks

            "one must commit the acts with complete and deliberate consent"

            And one more nail in your idea of Hell is added.

            If, as you say (is this the for sure for sure catholic position? just the for sure position? none of the above?) the only way to commit mortal sin is to do so with "complete" and "deliberate" consent, then not a single person has ever committed a mortal sin.

            Adam and Eve didn't know what Right and Wrong were, apparently, so they're out of the running...and as far as I know those are the last living humans to have had face-to-face knowledge of god, and they surely had no sort of face-to-face knowledge of hell.

            Anything less, any sort of holding back about the true nature of the choice, any deceit or obfuscation removes the ability of the chooser to know what is at stake.

            Since no living human has ever known what was at stake, no one could've been deliberately and completely choosing hell.

            Additionally, a choice between two options, eg. being with god or not, where one of the options is attended with a threat, eg. eternal damnation/hell/lake of fire/ghenna/gnashing of teeth/eternal void, is known as "coercion."

            By definition, when someone is making a choice under duress, in a coercive situation, they are not capable of giving consent.

            Your teaching about god and hell could move closer to making sense if there were no penalty for choosing "not-god."

            As it stands, there is no free choice, there is no consent, therefore no mortal sin and hell is empty.

            ---

            As a side note, though related, I completely disagree with "Existence is better than an alternative where we don't have the choice to reject God."

            I would rather not exist than live with the *knowledge* that in all probability a large number of my brother and sister sentient beings would be spending the rest of eternity in the worst place imaginable, and that there was a chance, however great, of my going there and those I love and cherish going there as well.

            Better to never have been born than be a plaything of your sadistic deity.

            Luckily, it's a false dichotomy because I now see no reason to believe that a deity exists. Although I once did, and the fear and damage it did are very real.

          • Andre Boillot

            ariofrio,

            "Only those who die in the state of mortal sin will go to hell, but it is not easy to commit mortal sin."

            Abortion, adultery, divorce, drug abuse, fornication, sodomy, masturbation, and suicide. Might not be "easy" to commit all of these but, on the whole, that's a set of fairly common occurrences. Also, what of the possibility of repeated committing of venial sins becoming mortal sin?

            "Importantly, one must commit the acts with complete and deliberate consent. (But I don't mean to overemphasize that, because "Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin." CCC 1859)

            Everyone consistently fails in their struggles to overcome their broken natures. Some struggle in small things, some struggle in bigger things. But if one is trying their best, asking for God's help, asking for friends' help, and fails, how can that be deliberate? How can that constitute complete consent?"

            Sounds like we're trying to hedge bets here.

            "No, those who might fear hell would be those who choose it, in full knowledge, and in full consent."

            No, sorry. Even if you're trying hard to avoid committing sin, you always have to wonder if you're trying hard enough, or begging forgiveness frequently enough (remember, hardness of heart makes it worse). BTW, I grew up Catholic, none of what you've said is news. That didn't stop me from living in fear nor, I assume, millions of others.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            Andre, I completely see where you're coming from. But the issue isn't so much that we're charged with Adam's sin, as said above. We're not "found guilty" for Adam's crimes. Even St. Paul's quote is misleading, as this doctrine is incredibly nuanced.

            All of nature was broken when Adam sinned. The universe as a whole was "knocked off course". It's like you're riding a bicycle, you hit a huge pothole, and your front wheel has a giant dent in it and you have to struggle to maintain control.

            When the universe was in sync with God, the bike was great. Once it was knocked out of sync through Adam and Eve's disobedience, everything was knocked out of sync, including out human nature.

            But the Incarnation, God made man, sets it right again. It's still not perfect, but the bike's doing a whole lot better now.

            Maybe this helps?

          • Andre Boillot

            Epicus,

            I appreciate the response. I understand that Catholics don't believe we're judged for Adam & Eve's sin, and that you find the doctrine incredibly nuanced. For me it's a matter of fairness. Whether or not we are guilty of the same sin, we are still made to suffer the same punishment (which is worse than had we been guilty of that sin). We face the same challenges that Adam & Eve failed to overcome, and this time without God's direct revelation to us, without being in perfect harmony with him and his creation, predisposed to sin, etc... Not only that, but this time the penalty is not a mere casting out of Eden to live a difficult life and eventually die. No, humanity now faces eternal damnation if it fails to find and accept the God that made them this way.

            "Maybe this helps?"

            Does it make me whole?

          • fredx2

            When an Olympic athlete wins a gold medal after years of training and discipline and struggle, isn't the victory all the sweeter because of all that training and disciple and struggle? Same is true for anyone in any area of life.
            The alternative is for God to make everyone's life a cakewalk. Would that be better? To have faced no difficulties, no heartbreaks, no pain? Not that you seek it, but almost everyone is better for having faced difficulties.

          • Andre Boillot

            Yes, the argument I've been making is that trite. You've destroyed it here. Well done.

          • severalspeciesof

            LOL...

          • Michael Murray

            We have been allowed to fall in order to make possible a more glorious final end.

            Remind me to mention this to the next person I meet with a new born with cancer. Do you really know what suffering is ?

          • Steven Greydanus

            Remind me to mention this to the next person I meet with a new born with cancer. Do you really know what suffering is ?

            I have some idea. My wife is an RN who worked in a neonatal ICU for children with congenital heart defects, and the deaths of her patients and the grief of the parents is very real to me. I've buried close relatives, including my wife's brother who was younger then than I am now, and succumbed to an incredibly vicious blood cancer. Yet I'm still acutely conscious of living a privileged, sheltered life, and I heartily wish to suffer no more than I do, which is very little.

            I write in fear and trembling. I don't pretend this is easy. The Fall wasn't my idea, and I would certainly prefer to live in a world without evil or suffering. As I wrote to Andre, I believe that this world is what it is in the plan and providence of God, and since I believe that God is the sum of all perfection, I affirm what I do as an act of faith in God's goodness. I believe in the end God is capable of making even the suffering of parents of a newborn with cancer redound to their own greater happiness and glory. That doesn't make the present suffering easier, but I hope and believe it makes it meaningful.

          • Guest

            I believe in the end God is capable of making even the suffering of parents of a newborn with cancer redound to their own greater happiness and glory.

            This is what I just don't understand.

          • Steven Greydanus
            I believe in the end God is capable of making even the suffering of parents of a newborn with cancer redound to their own greater happiness and glory.

            This is what I just don't understand.

            I don't "understand" it either. Only bits and pieces. God's answer to evil is not to stand above it, or to dissolve it with a word, but to get down into the thick of it. The crucifixion of Jesus looks like the triumph of evil, but somehow it is ultimately evil's defeat, and all of our sufferings, as miserable as they are, are potentially part of this defeat of evil. After the crucifixion comes the resurrection, shattering the power of death, and in the end death will be undone. All evil will be undone. God's justice will be vindicated. "Will everything sad come untrue?" Frodo asks Gandalf at the end of The Lord of the Rings. Can omnipotence achieve this? I believe it can.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Steven, were the people who lived and died in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus, given an "offer of redemption"?

          • Steven Greydanus

            Steven, were the people who lived and died in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus, given an "offer of redemption"?

            Certainly. Christ is "the light who lightens every man," pre-Colombian Americans included. Catholic theology describes the reception of sanctifying grace by such people as "implicit baptism of desire."

            Note, though, that just as it is possible to receive sanctifying grace through an implicit (less than fully knowing and deliberate, but still morally responsible) act of faith, so it is possible to reject sanctifying grace through a less than fully knowing and deliberate but still morally responsible act of rebellion. Well all choose Heaven or hell all the time, whether we know it or not.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Steven, how would you present objective evidence for that position?

          • Steven Greydanus

            Steven, how would you present objective evidence for that position?

            For which part?

        • Savio M Sacco

          Even though I was brought up as a Roman Catholic (and do an effort to act like a Christian), I do understand Andre's point and it is something I ponder on often. A better car analogy would be that I go to the mechanic to service my friend's car and the mechanic forgets to put back the brakes. As soon as I drive out of the garage, I crash into the first wall I find. Then I am taken to court and somehow found guilty. At that point, the mechanic comes in and says "hey, I'll pay all the damages." I would think to myself, "that is the least you could do."

          And now for another analogy. If you place an attractively wrapped bomb inside a playground, and some children see it and try to open it and it goes off. Who's fault is it, yours for placing such a dangerous device, or the children's for opening it? Now the bomb refers to the allegoric tree in the middle of the garden, which, if you ask me, should never have been there in the first place. I've asked this question several times, and the best I could get was that without the tree there would be no free will. Do we really need free will? Do we actually have it (considering that some believe that those saved are those who receive God's grace, making the point of free will moot). The allegoric Adam and Eve seemed to be doing just fine without free will.....if it wasn't for that tree!

          I am not trying to be polemical here. It is just that this thought has been bothering me (as a Catholic) for some time and it relieving to see other people (I hope I understood Andre's point properly) have thought about the same thing.

          • Leila Miller

            Savio, the first part of your comment assumes that God is at fault for humans choosing to sin. But it's not true. If God had not given us the dignity and freedom to choose to love Him, then we would simply be slaves or robots. Think about it: If your wife didn't choose to love you, but had to, would you bask in that "love"? What meaning would it have? It would be meaningless. It wouldn't actually be love at all. The nature of love is that it must be freely chosen, freely given, freely received.

            As for grace, God gives all persons the grace they need to get to Heaven. Actual grace (as opposed to sanctifying grace) comes around constantly. No one is exempt. So, no one is left out in the cold, so to speak. No one "doesn't get enough" grace to be saved if they choose to cooperate with the grace given. No one falls accidentally into hell. Hell is chosen, willfully, by ignoring all the actual grace (nudges from God) that come by all the time, prompting the soul to seek out and obtain sanctifying grace.

            I wrote a bit about that here:

            http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/11/understanding-two-kinds-of-grace.html

          • Savio M Sacco

            Thanks Leila, but I don't agree. You talk about the ability to sin as if it was a gift. But if it was so, why wasn't it given to the Mother of God? Why wasn't everyone given the same "perks"? Besides, we cannot choose not love God. I mean, we can, just as, say, an Iranian can choose to be come a spy for the US, but will most probably end up hanged. We can choose not to love God, but then there is a consequence. I don't see that as freedom. Besides, some people are actually forced by God to commit sin. How do you interpret "And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Exodus 14:8)? As it was pointed out by others in these comments, this pseudo-freedom is not worth the risks attached to it.

          • Leila Miller

            Savio, then I have to ask you: What is the nature of love? If it is not freely given and received, then what is it worth?

            Also, it's not that the ability to sin is a gift, but the ability to choose is a gift. If we do not have the ability to choose love, then what are we? (Not a rhetorical question, I am interested in your answer.) Mary had the choice to sin, by the way. She could have, but she did not. Adam and Eve also could have chosen not to sin, but they did. That is the difference between Eve and Mary. Eve and Mary both had the choice not to sin. Eve chose sin, Mary chose not to sin. She is the New Eve, just as Christ is the New Adam. A perfect parallel, they reversed and redeemed what Adam and Eve lost.

            As for choosing sin, Satan, for one, sure saw it as freedom. He knew just what he was choosing and chose it anyway (better to rule in hell than serve in heaven!). Why would you (or God) deny anyone the right to place themselves first, above God? Heck, some even posit that the folks in hell are happier there than if they were forced to serve a God that they hate. Satan knew what he was choosing. Is he miserable, wretched and damned? Yes, but no doubt he thinks his choice better than the alternative. Sad for him, but God will not deny folks their chosen destiny.

            Pharaoh hardened his own heart: 1 Sam 6:6. God certainly allowed him to do so, by His permissive will. But God did not force him to sin.

          • Savio M Sacco

            Thanks again for taking the time to answer me. Now that you mention it, I never looked at it this way, that is, Eve was also created without original sin but still sinned. Therefore, I think it is safe to assume that original sin does not make one more predisposed to do evil. I used to think that Mary was without sin not through her choice/abilities but through the immaculate conception. If this is the case, then original sin does not really mean much and does not have any effect on one's life. Which also means that Mary wasn't given such a big head start. Which is a good thing, because that means that imitating her is something humanly possible.
            As for the Pharaoh, I looked up the verse you mentioned and it is a you say. But the one I mentioned specifically says God made him do it. The most plausible explanation I can think of is that either one of the authors chose the wrong words, or there was a mistake when translating from the original text. For the record, the verse in my native tongue (Maltese) is the same as the one in English.
            Sorry if I sound like a nit pick. I'm not trying to prove anyone wrong or anything. It is just that being a member of the Legion of Mary, I get asked these things often. And I cannot convince anyone unless I am convinced myself. And that is why I ask.

          • Leila Miller

            Thanks for the thoughtful response, Savio. Actually, yes, Original Sin does make one more predisposed to sin. Because of Original Sin, we all have concupiscence, or the tendency to sin. Those created without Original Sin (such as Eve, Mary) had the choice not to sin, but the rest of us (born with the effects of Original Sin, thus concupiscence) are all sinners. If we reach the age of reason, there is not one of us who will not choose sin at some point (most of us daily). So, yes, there is a huge difference between those created with Original Sin and those created without.

            As for Pharaoh: God would never, ever force one to sin (that is against His nature and is impossible). But he can certainly allow and confirm the sin that has already been chosen by man who has free will, then use that chosen evil to bring about a greater good. It's one of the greatest truths that God brings a greater good out of our decision to do evil. The two passages are not incompatible when one understands that all things fall under God's providence, even as there is a distinction between God's active will and His permissive will. God did not force Pharaoh's heart to be hardened, but He did allow it and confirmed that choice.

          • fredx2

            The way I look at it is this - if you take a baby and let him do what he wants, will he sin? Sure. He will hit the other kids, he will take their toys, he will steal their cookies.
            This is his natural - born nature. He is created with a natural disposition to be selfish and to sin. Some people say, "Oh, the cute little baby, how can we consider him a sinner.
            Next time your kid bites someone, remember Original sin

          • Savio M Sacco

            And who made his "natural - born nature"? I've heard this story over and over again, but it still doesn't explain why we were born broken.

          • Michael Murray

            Neither of my boys ever bit anyone. If they had I would have talked to someone qualified to seek some assistance as I would regard it as pretty extreme behaviour indicative of some kind of a problem. I would not have interpreted their behaviour as being a result of some woman taking an apple from a snake. I don't find that a useful approach to understanding child behaviour.

          • fredx2

            "We can choose not to love God, but then there is a consequence. I don't see that as freedom"
            You can choose to eat cake all day and not exercise. But there is a consequence to that. You get fat and unhealthy and die quicker. So would you say we have no freedom in regards to eating cake?
            Of course we do. So the fact that there are consequences to choices does not negate the fact that there is a choice.
            The reason you have a choice is that the existence of God is not scientlifcally provable. He might be out there, he might not be. We can't be sure. You can't be sure you will be punished, and by all scientifically provable measures, you won't be. So a choice against God is somewhat logical. So the choice is actually skewed a bit towards not believing.
            So, you have a choice. You can believe in God or not, your choice. But if I understand the position of the Catholic church, even if you choose not to believe in him, but in all your actions walk a perfect walk and do good, you will go to heaven anyway.

            .

          • Leila Miller

            Savio, God most definitely does not force anyone to commit sin! That is utterly against His nature, which He cannot act against. I answered the Pharaoh issue somewhere else, I think? Elsewhere in Scripture there is a verse which says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. God certainly allowed it, through His permissive will (as opposed to His positive, active will), and ultimately confirmed Pharaoh's choice.

            Yes, there is always a consequence to our actions. Always. This is not news, and even atheists can see this in the natural world. But without free will, we cannot love. It is a gift to have the ability to give and receive love. And if someone is invincibly ignorant of the requirements of love (and salvation) then justice demands that there will be an ocean of mercy for that person. But for the rest? For those who choose evil and never care to seek truth? Who ignore the dictates of conscience? That is a different story. Why not simply love God and see how beautiful it is. Why fight it? God is the beloved, always inviting, never forcing (God is a gentleman not a rapist). And, yes, Mary had the gift of free will as well. It was given to her, and she chose "yes" every time, cooperating with grace at every moment. She was no robot, no slave.

          • Savio M Sacco

            Leila, I agree with your description of God and how He does not force anyone to commit sin. That would fit with what I would expect from a fair God. However, that particular passage explicitly says the contrary. The most plausible explanation is that the author chose the wrong words, and that is an explanation I happily accept.

            As for Our Lady, the part where I don't agree with you is where you say that we are attracted to sin (through concupiscence, as you put it) more than She was. If that is the case then She shouldn't be a saint at all. It would be like congratulating a motorcyclist for winning a race against a guy with a bicycle. That would make Saint Rita of Cascia a better saint (she saw not one, but two sons die and they did not come back from the dead. She also had an abusive husband to her life harder). If,on the other hand, Mary had the same spiritual handicaps that afflict all humans, then yes, she really deserves all the honours bestowed on her because She swam against the current.

            Back to the original subject of whether atheists go to heaven or not, Jesus Himself said that the law and prophets' teachings can be summed up in two commandments - love God and love your neighbour. All the rest is just chaff and an invitation to be taken out of context in order to justify anything (I added the latter part). St Augustine of Hippo said "Love, and do what you will". And how do you love God? Surely not by attending mass everyday (although that helps with knowing Him better) or saying rosaries all the time, but by loving the neighbour. Some atheists already do that, even though they don't do it to please God. Actually that gives them more credit, since that makes their love more genuine.

            @fredx: I had answered your comment with a question about who was responsible for making us "with a natural disposition to be selfish and to sin". Maybe I posted somewhere else by mistake or maybe it was removed. Who knows. I'm not asking these questions because I want to change what you believe in, far from it. I'd rather have a grinding stone tied to my neck and be thrown in the sea than say something that would make anyone lose faith. On the contrary, I am trying to understand better in order to better appreciate why Jesus died for us.

          • Leila Miller

            Mary could have sinned just as Adam and Eve were sinless and could sin. They all had fullness of grace. None had concupiscence. While Mary may not have been inclined to sin, she actually felt the force and evil of sin more than the rest of us. Only the sinless, the most pure, can fully understand the effects of evil, and feel most keenly the sufferings of this world.

            As to your section about love. That is your own opinion, obviously, and not the Christian view. The rest is not "chaff". Love of God and neighbor encompasses all Truth. And Christ himself said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it and that "not one jot or tittle" of the law would pass away. The universal moral law, and all doctrinal truths that He left: That is how we love! By obedience to all His truth. By living the virtues heroically.

            And, you are completely wrong about what makes love more "genuine". The best love is that which we do purely for the love of God. When we do everything for love of Christ, we are saints. Pleasing God (our Beloved) for the sake of pleasing God is perfect love. To say that loving the creatures is somehow better or more genuine than loving the Creator is exactly backwards.

            If you want to understand better why Jesus died for us, and Who He is, I suggest the following books: Everlasting Man, by Chesterton; This Tremendous Lover, by Boylan; To Know Christ Jesus, by Sheed.

            One last thought: You (commendably) defer to Sacred Scripture with reverence. So why not defer to the giver of Scripture and the interpreter of Scripture -- the Church)? It is by her authority that the Gospels are here and that you revere them. She is the authority you can trust.

      • Susan

        >I'm not sure what your point is here. Does pleading "not guilty" ensure your innocence?
        Could you ensure your innocence if I accused you of a crime for which there was no evidence? Of course not. The burden is on me to demonstrate a criminal action and then to provide evidence that you are criminally responsible.
        Got evidence?

        • fredx2

          The evidence is all over the place. Are people naturally without sin? No, vast multitudes of them sin all the time. Where does that tendency come from? From our fallen nature. That's what original sin is all about.

      • Bryan Richards

        hey... you stole an orange, your kid claims he is not guilty. death penalty

        you actually just said this makes sense.

      • JB

        OJ simpson was innocent, there was a serial killer going around at the time... I watched the documentary OJ is an innocent man. Maybe you should do more research before using analogies that hold no water Mr. Writer man. smh.

    • Steven Greydanus

      Wait, how did the subject of original sin come up?

      No one is "charged" with original sin. Original sin is not strictly sin at all; we only call it sin by way of analogy.

      There is no guilt attached to original sin. No one is punished in hell for original sin -- only for actual, personal sins.

      • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

        Thank, Steven. You're totally right, and I issued the same clarification below. Catholics distinguish between "original sin" and "actual sin."

      • Mark Hunter

        If not for "original sin" there would be no need of redemption ("The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the "reverse side" of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men") http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm

        • Steven Greydanus

          Mark Hunter: I'm not saying the doctrine of original sin isn't central to Christian soteriology. Of course it is.

          I'm saying original sin is a) not a matter of personal fault; b) not "sin" at all in the strict sense of the word, only by analogy; c) not something that anyone is "charged" with, and d) not something that anyone is punished for in hell.

          • Mark Hunter

            You asked why did the subject of Original sin came up. It's because without it redemption is unnecessary. "All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners" http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven,

            Would you say then, that original sin makes somebody more likely sin and wind up in hell?

          • Steven Greydanus

            Would you say then, that original sin makes somebody more likely sin and wind up in hell?

            Of course. As was said above, we're all born broken.

            I would add that existence, even broken and perilous existence, is still a gift; we are already beneficiaries of God's benevolence as soon as we come into existence.

            And God's benevolence goes much further than just "offering" us the grace of regeneration (sanctifying grace); he also unilaterally gives us grace (operative or prevenient grace) to enable us to actually accept that offer, whether explicitly or implicitly.

            Still, he leaves us free. We can choose to deprive ourselves of our own true good, of Goodness itself -- or not. We are all making that choice, one way or another, all the time.

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven,

            "Would you say then, that original sin makes somebody more likely sin and wind up in hell?

            Of course. As was said above, we're all born broken."

            Ok cool, I just wanted to make sure you were down with being born broken, through no fault of your own, and burdened with a predisposition to sin. You see nothing unfair in this?

            "And God's benevolence goes much further than just "offering" us the grace of regeneration (sanctifying grace); he also unilaterally gives us grace (operative or prevenient grace) to enable us to actually accept that offer, whether explicitly or implicitly."

            Sorry, this sounds like: "I heard you wanted grace, so I gave you the grace to accept the grace." Graceful. What if, instead of being born broken and needing to seek out and accept these graces, we were born whole - free to choose the correct path, unburdened by the predisposition to sin? Nah, much better to have ignorant people struggle through life trying to find the truth, and then hold them eternally responsible for their ill-informed choices, and momentary lapses.

          • Mark Hunter

            And how many people look at a new born child and see a broken person. I don't and couldn't imagine thinking that.

          • Steven Greydanus

            And how many people look at a new born child and see a broken person. I don't and couldn't imagine thinking that.

            Every parent who brings their baby to be baptized, if they understand what baptism is, thinks that.

            And if you don't think that, where do you think selfish behavior comes from? Surely the tendency to sin (or do wrong) must be in our genes, if not our souls? In which case we are born "broken" (with a tendency toward sin/selfishness). Or do you think we're tabulae rasae and it's all socialization?

          • Mark Hunter

            Perhaps if we had a more positive image of new borns and didn't rely on the "socialization" aspect of religion to claim they are defective we'd be better off.

          • Steven Greydanus

            Surely you don't think you've answered my question?

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven,

            In fairness, maybe he doesn't know many selfish infants. :)

          • Steven Greydanus

            Andre,

            In other words, he doesn't know many infants? :)

            But selfishness in infancy is a red herring. Give the infant a few years, and by the time she's three, four, five, pretty much everyone will agree she's more than capable of acting selfishly -- and this happens 100 percent of the time, to all humans (assuming we live at least a few years). We all do contemptible things we're ashamed of. In that sense, we're all "broken." Surely, the tendency toward this sort of behavior must be part of human nature (whether our genes, our souls or both), which is another way of saying it's there from the start, even in a newborn. The one position we can exclude from the outset is tabula rasa optimism in all its forms (i.e., "We're basically pure until the world corrupts us"), from the Pelagians to Rousseau.

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven,

            Aren't those same infants also capable of acting selflessly? You're talking about tendencies here, and suggesting we tend towards sin naturally. I disagree that one is necessarily more common than the other. I'll let the intended recipient continue this though.

          • Steven Greydanus

            Aren't those same infants also capable of acting selflessly? You're talking about tendencies here, and suggesting we tend towards sin naturally. I disagree that one is necessarily more common than the other. I'll let the intended recipient continue this though.

            I agree that everyone has innate tendencies toward both good and evil. This is perfectly compatible with Catholic anthropology.

          • Leila Miller

            Andre, you don't have children if I remember correctly. When you raise a child (or multiple children) from infancy to adulthood, you will see that instilling even the very basics of goodness is very hard won. It's not for nothing that parents of all stripes say that parenting is hard (understatement). ;)

            Without concupiscence, parenting would not only be a breeze, but it would not be necessary at all.

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            "Andre, you don't have children if I remember correctly. When you raise a child (or multiple children) from infancy to adulthood, you will see that instilling even the very basics of goodness is very hard won."

            Thanks for another example of my favorite 'appeal to mommy-authority'. Maybe you're just a terrible parent?

          • Leila Miller

            LOL, could be!

            Hopefully, even those without children have common sense (and perception) enough to see and understand that parenting is hard. I've never met a parent (or a wise observer) who thought otherwise, but perhaps you live in a special enclave. ;)

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            "Hopefully, even those without children have common sense (and perception) enough to see and understand that parenting is hard."

            If I took exception to that notion, I would have quoted the part of your comment that contained it. You'll notice that's not what I did. I would argue that there's a difference between parenting being hard, and "that instilling even the very basics of goodness is very hard won".

            I'm not a parent, but I did grow up on planet Earth. I've run into these 'kid' things. On occasion, they've been placed in my charge. So yes, an infant is 'selfish' in that it cries for food and the like. However, in my experience (since we're valuing individual experience as weighty evidence), things like selfishness, rudeness, racism, sexism, violence - these are things they learn from adults, and are not innate.

          • Leila Miller

            LOL, okay Andre.

            I guess if it is not hard to instill the very basics of goodness in children, and if it's mostly bad parenting that infects these naturally good creatures with all sorts of bad behavior, then we should rethink this whole "parents" concept, as they might not actually be needed, and might be doing more harm than good.

            Anyway, honestly, I'd like you to get back to me after you've raised a child or two to adulthood. It has a way of humbling. But again, what do I know? You are much wiser in this area.

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            "I guess if it is not hard to instill the very basics of goodness in children, and if it's mostly bad parenting that infects these naturally good creatures with all sorts of bad behavior, then we should rethink this whole "parents" concept, as they might not actually be needed, and might be doing more harm than good."

            Yeah, because pointing out that people tend to learn from, and are influenced by, their surroundings = advocating for no parents. You nailed it.

          • severalspeciesof

            Leila, you have just now met a parent (me) in which instilling the very basics of goodness in his son was not hard at all. Maybe my son is the exception to the rule...

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Andre, I suggest you get folks to produce evidence that something that they think exists, really exists, before you get bogged down slogging through arguments about its attributed properties. Again, just a friendly suggestion.

          • fredx2

            Andre has chosen to challenge the specific doctrine of Original Sin. That is the topic right now. The existence of God is for another topic.

          • severalspeciesof

            Sorry fredx2, but no god = no original sin. It's that simple...

          • fredx2

            I don't know of many infants acting selflessly. Do they stop crying at night because they decide not to wake their parents?
            Have any infants thrown themselves on a grenade lately, or rescued people from a burning house?
            No, the selfishness is pretty much built in.

          • Alexander S Anderson

            Wait, do you know any unselfish infants? I'm pretty sure infants focus entirely on their own needs, food, sleep, and never on anyone else's needs. We just don't hold infants morally accountable for this "selfishness", because we understand that you need to develop a certain amount of self-consciousness to be morally culpable. The two things are related. This is why the Adam and Eve tale has often been interpreted as a coming-of-age story.

          • fredx2

            Then he doesn't know any infants.

          • severalspeciesof

            You have a very dim view of infants...

          • fredx2

            The reason little kids hit each other is that we don't have a sufficiently positive attitude towards them?
            Since the kid does not understand English at first, how do they soak up this notion that we consider them defective?

          • Michael Murray

            Yes it's basically a disgusting premise.

          • Steven Greydanus

            It's a disgusting premise that when infants get older and commit selfish acts, they aren't doing anything that isn't part of their nature (whether soul or genes)?

          • fredx2

            Well, that;s the first time I have heard reality referred to as "a disgusting premise".
            I don't think that anyone can argue with the premise that humans are born with the capacity and the tendency to do bad things from time to time.

          • fredx2

            When your little angel starts hitting other kids, stealing their toys, then tell me that there is no inborn tendency to sin built into our nature. All original sin says is that we are born with a fallen nature. We are not born perfect, everyoine tends to sin.

          • severalspeciesof

            I can't speak for Mark, but my little angel never started hitting kids nor stole their toys... he's 15 now and still doesn't hit or steal...

          • Amanda Tarantelli

            Andre:

            "What if, instead of being born broken and needing to seek out and accept these graces, we were born whole - free to choose the correct path, unburdened by the predisposition to sin?"
            We are born free to choose the correct path, we just always make that choice. If we were born with only the ability to choose the right path, then we are in fact not born free. Free will and originial sin go hand in hand...can't have the freedom to choose right from wrong without the ability to choose wrong (sin)

          • Andre Boillot

            Amanda,

            I think you're quite missing the point. It's disingenuous to say we're born "free" to choose the correct path. Again, I'll refer you to Catholic teaching:

            "As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence")."

            Yes, you're "free" to choose, while hampered your entire life by a predisposition to choose wrongly. You're complaining that it wouldn't be free will if we were restricted to only the correct path, ignoring that the Catholic position is that the two paths aren't equally likely, and that we're forced to overcome our nature in order to choose the "right" path.

          • Amanda Tarantelli

            Andre,
            I guess one of two things is happening for me (not a theologically sound arguement...just my opinion). I've always worked hard. I enjoy the reward of working for something...anything that is handed to me feels cheapened because I didn't work for it. If at the end of this life, I am welcomed into the kingdom of heaven, it's because I tried my hardest to live a good life. And secondly, if fighting to overcome my nature to choose the right path means eternal life with God...then yes please...I choose that fight. And once I made that choice that that was what I wanted, it's not so much a fight with my nature anymore. Sure there are moments of weakness, but my life isn't simply one moment of weakness after another. It's less about not breaking rules and more about loving Christ. I guess I don't look at my life as a battle to fight my predisposition to choose wrongly. Call me an idealist but I think my life is one opportunity after another to love God more.

          • Andre Boillot

            Amanda,

            (sorry if this duplicates, I think the site ate my initial, longer reply)

            "I enjoy the reward of working for something...anything that is handed to me feels cheapened because I didn't work for it."

            TLDR: I'm not talking about a silver spoon, I'm talking about a fair shake.

          • Andre Boillot

            Amanda,

            (sorry if this duplicates, I think the site ate my initial, longer reply)

            "I enjoy the reward of working for something...anything that is handed to me feels cheapened because I didn't work for it."

            TLDR: I'm not talking about a silver spoon, I'm talking about a fair shake.

          • Amanda Tarantelli

            Andre,
            I guess one of two things is happening for me (not a theologically sound arguement...just my opinion). I've always worked hard. I enjoy the reward of working for something...anything that is handed to me feels cheapened because I didn't work for it. If at the end of this life, I am welcomed into the kingdom of heaven, it's because I tried my hardest to live a good life. And secondly, if fighting to overcome my nature to choose the right path means eternal life with God...then yes please...I choose that fight. And once I made that choice that that was what I wanted, it's not so much a fight with my nature anymore. Sure there are moments of weakness, but my life isn't simply one moment of weakness after another. It's less about not breaking rules and more about loving Christ. I guess I don't look at my life as a battle to fight my predisposition to choose wrongly. Call me an idealist but I think my life is one opportunity after another to love God more.

          • fredx2

            Of course you would not be free if you were "restricted to the correct path."
            That is the inherent nature of being "restricted". It means you are not free to choose any other path.
            You ,may want to live in a Stepford world where everyone is forced to choose the good, but I don't.

          • Andre Boillot

            Amanda,

            Put another way: I'm not complaining that we're not locked into the "right" path - like a train on rails, with no say where it leads. My "hangup" is that we're more like a car built with faulty steering that constantly pulls in the wrong direction. Sure, I'm free to compensate and struggle to stay on the right path, but it strikes me as supremely unfair that any weakness or lapse on my part results in the car going the wrong way.

          • fredx2

            But in fact, aren't we all pulled towards the side of the road? In fact, we are all given situations where we want to do the easy thing (let the car go the way it wants).

            For example, married men are tempted by other women. People are tempted to take money belonging to others. We are tempted to eat too much cake and ice cream.

            Your compliant is that this is unfair. But in fact, as a child, you were given years and years of training designed to help you to reject the easy, harmful choice. And as that training progressed, it got easier and easier to reject the harmful choice. You are surrounded by a society that consistently reinforces the correct choices, and helps you avoid them.

            All religion does is provide a mechanism to help you overcome the easy, harmful choice.
            Your only alternative is to be a Stepford person.

          • Steven Greydanus

            Ok cool, I just wanted to make sure you were down with being born broken, through no fault of your own, and burdened with a predisposition to sin. You see nothing unfair in this?

            I'm honestly not sure what "unfair" means in this context. On one level, I'm grateful just to be here. I see existence, even of the broken sort we have, as a net good. God didn't have to create us at all. I can imagine a universe in which people receive existence in an unbroken state. That would certainly be good. I find myself in a universe in which we receive existence in a broken state, with an offer to upgrade to something much better than unbroken. I can't say this seems like raw deal to me.

            Sorry, this sounds like: "I heard you wanted grace, so I gave you the grace to accept the grace."

            Heh. That's funny. Theologically accurate, too.

          • Andre Boillot

            Steven,

            "I'm honestly not sure what "unfair" means in this context. On one level, I'm grateful just to be here. I see existence, even of the broken sort we have, as a net good."

            Careful, you're starting to sound like an atheist.

            Look, let's be clear. I don't mind the struggle of life as we know it - because I know of nothing else. The difference is that I'm not the one saying we have to live like this - and not in perfect harmony - because two non-defective humans sinned. I'm also no compounding things by saying that should our now-defective selves fail the test of life, eternal damnation awaits. That's the unfairness. Not the struggle. Not that things aren't perfect already. It's the being born broken, being commanded to become well, and the threat if we don't.

          • Steven Greydanus

            Andre,

            Careful, you're starting to sound like an atheist.

            Good. I don't mind sounding like an atheist. I've learned a lot from atheists, and atheism has a certain permanent part in my system of thought. Cardinal Ratzinger (B16) said that the believer never fully escapes doubt. I wouldn't know how to be a Christian without thinking about atheism. And certainly I wouldn't know how to try to converse with atheists about faith if I didn't think we had some kind of common ground on the subject.

            The difference is that I'm not the one saying we have to live like this - and not in perfect harmony - because two non-defective humans sinned.

            I understand. And, put that way, I'd agree with you. The story of the Fall is not a sufficient answer to the problem of evil. There is no quick or simple answer to the problem of evil, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (309).

            Rather, says the Catechism, "Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil."

            Ultimately, the answer to the problem of evil won't be fully clear until the last judgment, when the truth of God's justice will be fully disclosed to all. It's okay not to be satisfied until then. I'm not satisfied, as regards the particulars. I'm also not in doubt regarding the outcome.

          • Alexander S Anderson

            Please remember that no amount of doing good or not sinning can gain anyone the Kingdom of Heaven. It's not a test of how well we follow the rules despite being handicapped in that regard. In the Gospels, Jesus picture of how one is to be saved is always one of radical self-denial and radical commitment. He tells the rich young man to sell everything and follow him. He says the Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure in the field that you have to spend your life savings to get. The letter to the Hebrews rejoices that it is not the Father, but Jesus, who will judge at the end of time, and it's really happy about this because Jesus understands being a man, understands human frailty, and understands temptation. All this points to a judgement that will be a lot different than simply weighing your sin on one side and the good you have done on another. The Church recognizes, though, that sin separates us from God and can make us want to hide in the darkness and not accept His offer of loving friendship. Conversely, an accepting Jesus' radical commitment and self-denial is accepting graces that will make it easier to avoid sin. Anyway, I've babbled long enough. Point is, it's not a game rigged against us. If it were, no one would make it.

          • Andre Boillot

            "Please remember that no amount of doing good or not sinning can gain anyone the Kingdom of Heaven."

            Yes, there's that tricky part about having to accept Jesus and a lot of incredible claims too.

            "It's not a test of how well we follow the rules despite being handicapped in that regard."

            I think you mean to say it's not "merely" how well you follow the rules. You can pass the tests but still fail (if you've heard the Word but not accepted), but if you fail the tests you also still fail regardless.

            "Point is, it's not a game rigged against us. If it were, no one would make it."

            How does that follow necessarily? Nobody ever overcomes a handicap? Teams never win in spite of blown calls? Nonsense. What this does ensure is a lot of groveling and asking forgiveness for a broken nature we inherited through no fault of our own.

          • Alexander S Anderson

            Salvation is even higher than our unfallen natures, so no, we can't just overcome the handicap. Even if we somehow got back to the innocence of being unfallen, (which there is at least a question of whether we would want that) we would still die. No human effort can push that reality off forever. Christian salvation history starts with the realities of sin and death, not the reality of hell. Hell comes later, with the realization that we can experience love, especially salvific love, as torturous. (See Sartre, "No Exit" with his claim that "Hell is other people") The Eastern Church often envisions it thus: rays of divine light eminate from the side of Christ, and they are experienced as the light of beatitude by the saved, but the same rays are experienced as the fires of hell by the damned.

          • fredx2

            The broken nature is inherited through no fault of your own. But YOU make the decision to sin, knowing full well that sin is not good for you.

            You do not have to "grovel" to ask forgiveness for your broken nature. You do have to ask forgiveness for giving into what is usually a very easily avoided temptation to do wrong. . In spite of haviing been trained for years not to lie, cheat or steal, you decide to do it anyway. This is not your broken nature doing the sin, it is YOU. So yes, asking foregiveness is appropriate in that situation.

            Using your own analogy - you decide to let the car drive off the road, despite knowing that you could have easily kept it on course by a slight pressure of your left hand.

          • fredx2

            Perhaps it is unfair to be given the challenge of not sinning. But at the same time, all around you are thinkers, and philosophers, and priests and religionists who urge you to stay on the right course. You have a society that has built into its DNA that certain things are to be encouraged, and others discouraged. It's hardly unfair, when you are given so much help to do the right thing. Your parents carefully teach you to do the right thing, for about 18 years.
            But in the end, it's your choice.
            I don't find any unfairness in tthat situation.

          • fredx2

            "Ok cool, I just wanted to make sure you were down with being born broken, through no fault of your own, and burdened with a predisposition to sin. You see nothing unfair in this?"

            It's not a matter of fair or unfair. It is a matter of fact. When born, do all kids tend to act like angels, never sinning? Of course not. They have to be carefully taught to avoid sinning, over a period of years. The simple fact that a kid sees nothing wrong with bashing another kid over the head with a toy says it all.

            Consider the alternative. You are creating a world. You make it so that no one ever sins. You make it so that they are born with a perfect nature. Because they can only do good, do any one of them have free will? No. What you have done is create a race of Stepford people. They have no autonomy. To have autonomy, you have to have a choice to do good or evil.

          • severalspeciesof

            What is it with this insistence that if only good is present, that that would mean freewill is non existent? This would mean that before god created, freewill didn't exist and therefore god had (and still has) no freewill since he can do no evil.

          • fredx2

            Let me clarfiy - If God had created a world in which only good is present, and the world is constructed so that you simply cannot do wrong, then we in this created world have no free will.

            This has no application to God himself.
            It has to do with what he created, and the rules the world must follow. .

          • severalspeciesof

            You say:
            "If God had created a world in which only good is present, and the world
            is constructed so that you simply cannot do wrong, then we in this
            created world have no free will."

            Can you choose between two good actions? If yes, you have freewill. If not, well, there is something wrong with you...

          • asydwy

            *Not something that anyone is punished in hell for...* What
            say? For what are we baptised? What about the unbaptized? Limbo mean anything?
            If they ( the unbaptized) bear no guilt than why knock ourselves out evangelizing? If a Catholic has no spiritual advantage over the atheist, why bother leading such a difficult life? I thought the whole point was to know, love and serve God, no? What about the gospel of John " He that does not eat my flesh and drink my blood does not have life "?
            I appreciate that the Pope's statement has initiated a very
            meaningfujl discussion...but suspect, in the translation, much has been inappropriated and lost. A problem occurs between a Pope who speaks little English and a liberal press, that when left to interpret his words much mischief can occur, intended or not. We who do not speak fluent Spanish or Italian, the languages the Pope seems to use most often, are going to have to rely on the reporter's translation? Unless the Vatican verifies, I for one will not trust what I read or hear regarding his messages or homilies. If it sounds too good to be true is a sound axiom which many regard as wisdom. Let's apply it here also. There is nothing new under the sun especially as regards Truth!
            I believe that Christ died for all (although our new liturgy says differently; changed from all to many ) but each one must come to the truth and live accordingly if he is to be saved. Our own works do not save us but rather are mere affirmations of what we believe as God's will for humanity.
            In all religious instruction classes I received in my early years of Catholicism, we were taught that good works performed out of humanistic values, do not merit
            Divine redemption. Only those works performed by those
            who accept Christ as the Redeemer. Sure good works are
            always going to be recognized for at least having humanistic valuie but are not ever redemptive. I think it has to do with intent. Some people go about doing good for selfish reasons: getting themselves into heaven. Stepping on people that way, to raise oneself up, smacks of the ill intent
            Jesus was condeming of those who would place themselves first at the banquet table. I think the way most are interpreting the Pope's words is far, far too simplistic.

          • Steven Greydanus

            *Not something that anyone is punished in hell for...* What say? For what are we baptised? What about the unbaptized? Limbo mean anything?

            Limbo was never anything but theological speculation, and the very fact that it was invented at all underscores my point: Unbaptized babies don't deserve punishment in hell. In my view, the theory of limbo seemed necessary because soteriology hadn't yet developed to the point where it was clear how they could get to heaven. Today theologians are generally more skeptical of limbo because there's a clearer theoretical basis for saying unbaptized babies can be saved.

            If they ( the unbaptized) bear no guilt than why knock ourselves out evangelizing? If a Catholic has no spiritual advantage over the atheist, why bother leading such a difficult life?

            When did I say Catholics had no spiritual advantage over atheists? As for evangelizing, I presume we're evangelizing people who have attained the use of reason, which means that personal sin and even mortal sin is now an issue.

      • Andre Boillot

        "Wait, how did the subject of original sin come up?"

        When the topic of redemption came up.

        • Jonathan Brumley

          The way original sin affects the descendants of Adam & Eve is through the consequences of original sin. You're right, it would be unfair for God to judge a man guilty based on the sin of another man. But whether you like it or not, the sin of your neighbor (or your parent) can have consequences that affect you. If I murder a man, it is I who sinned, but it is the man's family who suffers the most.

          God, by giving humans freedom, gave us choices and consequences. Adam&Eve had a great responsibility and a great choice. They chose the "knowledge of good and evil". Physical death and concupiscence were the consequences of this choice.

          You can call this "extremely unfair", but consequences are part of life. Deal with it.

          • Andre Boillot

            Jonathan,

            "If I murder a man, it is I who sinned, but it is the man's family who suffers the most."

            I mean, I know there's rarely such a thing as a perfect analogy... Yes, that family suffers, though one thinks that after 1, 2, maybe 3 (more?) generations the family recovers as a whole. Also, there's a name for the better analogy: 'sins of the father'. Now, when it's in the Bible, everyone nods there head about how just it is, yet you wouldn't dream of holding the children of criminals (and all their subsequent offspring) responsible for crime of the parents. It's wildly out of proportion, and I don't begin to see the justice in it.

            "God, by giving humans freedom, gave us choices and consequences. Adam&Eve had a great responsibility and a great choice. They chose the "knowledge of good and evil". Physical death and concupiscence were the consequences of this choice."

            I'm rusty on my genesis, did God spell out the consequences of eating of the fruit? Leaving aside that they was tricked, we're back to the issue of proportion.

            "You can call this "extremely unfair", but consequences are part of life. Deal with it."

            Oh good, we have the site's first (?) "Deal with it!"

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Men have greater or lesser responsibility, and the consequences of a choice can be smaller or greater depending on the nature of the choice. Obama has a pretty great responsibility - at any point, he could decide to press the red button, launch the nukes, and blow up the whole world.

            Adam&Eve also have a great responsibility. When they chose knowledge of good&evil, this choice affected all future generations, just like Obama's choice whether or not to press the red button.

            Just as you say the Adam&Eve's responsibility and the consequences of their choice was "out of proportion", I could say the same thing about Obama's responsibility and the choice he is given.

            When I say "Deal with it", I mean that in the most charitable way.

          • Andre Boillot

            Jonathan,

            "Just as you say the Adam&Eve's responsibility and the consequences of their choice was "out of proportion", I could say the same thing about Obama's responsibility and the choice he is given."

            The difference, of course, would be that you would expect a bit more from an all-loving, benevolent God. Something better than cursing all subsequent generations for the crimes of two individuals.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            When we make a choice, we don't always know all the consequences of that choice ahead of time. That being said, God was pretty up front about the consequences of this choice:

            "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."

          • Andre Boillot

            I stand corrected. The punishment totally fit the crime. We got what we deserved.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            "Punishment" and "consequence" are two different things.

            Your argument here is against human freedom. Why would an all-loving, benevolent God create humans who are free to choose good or evil? Why did an all-loving God allow Adam & Eve to inflict death and suffering upon themselves and all their children? Why does an all-loving God allow Obama the power to blow up the whole world?

            Would you rather have no freedom to make choices? Or limited freedom? Would you rather live in a padded room where you can't hurt yourself or other people and no one can hurt you?

          • Longshanks

            "Why would an all-loving, benevolent God create humans who are free to choose good or evil?"

            I take your point. If he creates us without that freedom, we are not independent, rather we are his automatons.

            But.

            Why create us at all? If I were blessed with the ability to write self-aware computer programs that could genuinely feel emotions, things endowed with a soul as you might say, which were so coded as to degenerate painfully and hopelessly upon reaching self-awareness...I wouldn't run the program.

            What's the point of granting us freedom when you know that we're going to choose poorly?

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            Because God is Love, and Love wants to be shared.

          • Andre Boillot

            "Because God is Love, and Love wants to be shared."

            And we all know that, in order to make an omelet, you need to crack a few eggs. If some of that creation should happen to choose poorly and suffer eternal not-Love, it's worth it.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            He asked why we were created at all, Andre. That was why. What we did once we were created is a separate issue.

          • Andre Boillot

            "What we did once we were created is a separate issue."

            And more importantly, it's all our fault, and nobody should look to blame or question God.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            It's like you're not even reading what I wrote to you, dude. You're starting to sound less like you're questioning and more like you're pouting.

          • Andre Boillot

            Bro, I mean Epicus, dude.

            It's almost like nobody is really upset about the part where we exists, it's like, man, we just wonder why we exist totally broke, brah, and why God is so harsh when we don't conform.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            Touche. I don't know where that "dude" came from. That ain't me, bro.

          • Andre Boillot

            We cool, we cool.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            Sweet.

          • fredx2

            We are not totally broke, We have the capacity to degrade ourselves by sinning. But so many structures exist to keep you from sinning, it is pretty hard to really get there. But the possibiliyt exists.

          • Longshanks

            No, you're not framing my question in context. I asked that, followed with context.

            My final sentence would've been a better choice for summation:

            "What's the point of granting us freedom when you know that we're going to choose poorly?"

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            I didn't mean to pull you out of context, that's my bad. Somehow I missed the "But"

          • fredx2

            But that's the point. It was their choice - they had every opportunity to avoid it, but they chose not to.

          • Longshanks

            Epicus,

            The nature of the phenomenon we call "love" is particularly interesting to me. Even if I grant you that your god is love, whatever that may mean, that still doesn't help me out much.

            I can imagine an alcoholic truly loving booze. I have a feeling that abusive households are full of love, the man for his wife and she for him. If only she wouldn't talk back so much it would be perfect.

            I have loved people whose best interests were served by my letting them go.

            "Love wants to be shared" doesn't seem like it even approaches a legitimate reason for forcing "eternal" existence on beings (of your very own image) and then allowing them to fail a test leading to their futurity of torture.

            If he loves us so much, why go to the solipsistic pains of creating us? So he could be less lonely? If he's lonely, how can he be perfection?

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            You're confusing love with everything except for love. An alcoholic does not love booze, an alcoholic hates booze but can't escape from his addiction, or enjoys his addiction in as much as he can.

            Love is patient, gentle, kind, so abusers don't love either. The abused, though, perhaps they do. Or perhaps they don't leave because they're scared. Clearly not a perfect Love that Love capital L would be.

            Love wants to join essences with the object of its love. It wants to minimize the distance between them until there is no distance. God, the Trinity, is a reflection of a Love that was perfectly in tune.

            But God, in His great Love, created first angels, and then men, and sought to bring more into communion with Him. Some accepted this, others did not. It has nothing to do with loneliness, as you know full well.

          • Longshanks

            Epicus,

            I suppose I may have been hinting at the fact that love and hate are not very far from each other, as experienced by humans. I know that I've spent time around alcoholics who hate their addiction, I also know I've been around some who love it, who love not being sober.

            Sometimes they are the same people.

            I think abusers love when they get the reactions they want from people. Abusers are not always physically violent, and those that aren't violent all the time. They are very skilled at being patient, gentle and kind while it suits them. Is there love in fear? The statistics about women who fantasize about their lovers being...overly forceful?...are pretty high.

            You talk about a perfect L love, fine, but I have no knowledge of such a thing, nor do I assume its existence. I only know how to talk somewhat coherently about he love I've seen on this planet.

            A love which "wants to minimize the distance between them until there is no distance," is horrible and disgusting to me. That is annihilation That is abuse. That is "you are just a part of me." That is the "celestial North Korea" Hitchens talked about. I can not imagine valuing a "love," big or small ell, which did not give the objects of it's affection room to be what they are.

            You may have a voice that's strong and loud, but you will not tell me what I do or don't know "full well." If god made us because he wanted to share himself, how is that not the definition of loneliness?

          • Leila Miller

            Does a brilliant artist create because he is lonely? I don't believe so. I think he creates because beauty cannot help but want to burst forth into a fruitfulness that is generously shared.

            And you misunderstand: Those in union with God do not lose their individuality even as they are caught up into the very Heart and Life of the Beloved. One look at the saints and this becomes clear. We become more of who we are (and were made to be) when we are loved and love perfectly.

          • Mark Hunter

            .No ones stopping God from sharing his love. And he knows that love must be reciprocated to be true love. But in human terms if you offer love with a bribe (i.e. Heaven) or a threat (i.e. hell) it's frowned upon. In fact the latter will get you a court order.

          • Longshanks

            An interesting side note to be sure.

            Fine, create us with free will.

            Then don't threaten us with damnation once we choose something you wish we hadn't.

            You don't run the Coke/Pepsi choice, and then hit people who pick Coke with a steel Maul in the face and then say "you should've chosen Pepsi."

            If he loves us so much, allow us to reject him without suffering hellfire.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            It's not a bribe or threat. It's the reality of the world. Heaven is union with God, and it's awesome. Hell is separation from God, and while in the west we see Hell as fire and brimstone, Eastern Orthodoxy sees Hell as complete isolation. You've turned your back on God, and now you're alone. You are stripped of emotion, incapable of loving, but wanting to love.

            I think Eastern Orthodoxy's Hell is more terrifying.

          • Longshanks

            Epicus,

            And yet, correct me if I'm wrong, your own god-man called hell an everlasting fire with wailing and gnashing of teeth, indicating a place where you burn in torture with others.

            The lake-of-fire image is not what I would call extraordinarily baseless given your framework. Isolation is indicated by...?

          • Steven Greydanus

            The lake-of-fire image is not what I would call extraordinarily baseless given your framework. Isolation is indicated by...?

            Hell in scripture is attended by various images, isolation or exclusion being one of them. Jesus' parables speak of being cast into "the outer darkness," of being left outside or barred from entering at the wedding feast, etc. " Depart from me, you evildoers; I never knew you."

          • Longshanks

            Fair enough, I had not paid great attention to that description of hell.

            So, lake of fire, gnashing teeth, or outer darkness, which is it?

            Why is it any of the above? Why not allow for a multiplicity of responses without punishment? Without isolation?

            There is a word for a decision or contract made under pressure or threat, can you guess what that word is?

            That word means that, legally, there is no consent given under coercion.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            My response would be that Hell isn't a "punishment" like we think of it legally. If it is viewed as an isolation, and we say that one goes to Hell through refusing to spend eternity with God, then the punishment truly is self-inflicted, right?

          • Longshanks

            I'm not a biblical scholar, nor do I care to look up a concordancy, but I feel pretty confident advancing the idea that Jesus' description of hell is as a punishment.

            If you want to go the "self-inflicted" route, then sure, it totally is. Just like when you let your dog out onto your lawn with an unfenced border to a stretch of the Eisenhower Freeway system and it gets exploded into tiny pieces, it was the dog's fault.

            Oh, but there's more, this is some twisted version of Valhalla where the dog gets to experience the pain of disembodiment continually and constantly, a Sisyphus of spectacular proportions.

            Everlasting torment for a choice you made in the blink of an eye on earth.

          • Longshanks

            I get it.

            You "logically" need the punishment to make the choice meaningful. You need something fearful to keep the faithful in line.

            But you're missing my point, over an over again. WHY?

            "Because God is Love, and Love wants to be shared" is the most disturbing aspect of your beliefs to me, and I know you mean it!

            Who in their right minds would "share" their "love" with a group of people, knowing that doing so would cause the most pain imaginable forever to at least one of them?

            The suffering of the one, in my mind, outweighs the potential joy of all the others. I think I read something about a shepherd looking for one lost sheep, but that could've been my copy of Dianetics.

          • Michael Murray

            It's not a bribe or threat. It's the reality of the world.

            It's His world. He made it. So any threat's or bribes it contains are down to Him.

            You are stripped of emotion, incapable of loving, but wanting to love.

            I assume this comes with an implicit "present company excepted" of course.

          • Steven Greydanus

            Why create us at all? If I were blessed with the ability to write self-aware computer programs that could genuinely feel emotions, things endowed with a soul as you might say, which were so coded as to degenerate painfully and hopelessly upon reaching self-awareness...I wouldn't run the program.

            But in the first place, the computer program is only doing what you programmed it to do. We aren't like that. Our choices are genuinely our own.

            What's the point of granting us freedom when you know that we're going to choose poorly?

            A partial answer to this, according to the Catholic faith, is that God's plan is amazing enough to incorporate even our poor choices into an ultimately grander, more glorious whole. No matter what wrong notes we strike, He rewrites the whole symphony to bring it to a more triumphant finale.

          • Longshanks

            My argument started with, or in other words, had the 'premise' of:
            P - What if I could write a program that was self aware, that had a 'soul,' but which was doomed to experience the pain of decrepitation and final misery without hope. An artificial intelligence, with genuine choice.

            With a conclusion of:
            C - I would chose not to press the "Enter" button, as the novelty of watching the program run would not be worth the pain that I would be forcing on a conscious being.

            The first part of your response was:
            R - They wouldn't be genuinely intelligent agents with choice.

            So I said:
            If P, then C.

            And you replied
            If P, then not P.

            Excellent.

            I promise you, I fully understand your second point, the idea of a 'grand symphony' with ups and downs and valleys just better showing the peaks we can attain.

            Except to me, the peaks aren't worth the valleys. Your god apparently told a story about a 'good shepherd' who searches for the 1, leaving the 99 alone while he does so. This shepherd, while I wouldn't want to be a part of his flocking knowing the sorts of reasons shepherds keep sheep in the first place, doesn't seem like the sort of guy who would say that the final product was worth the undulating path to get there.

            If you're going to posit a god who cares more about one lost sheep than the whole rest of the flock, what business do you have then saying that the free will of the many to chose god's love is worth the final, utter, complete and unending suffering of those who don't?

            I mean, if god at least just winked those people out of existence after their judgement, it would be one thing. But no, he's going to keep willing their existence after they've taken and failed the final exam he set up for them and deny them any further chance to be saved...

            This is not glory, this is sadomasochism.

          • fredx2

            But we are not going to choose poorly. Most people choose rather well, and are reinforced in that desire by church, society, parents. etc. All we have been given is the opportunity to sin, not the insistence that we sin.

          • Andre Boillot

            Jonathan,

            "Your argument here is against human freedom."

            Where have I said this? How could one arrive to this conclusion from what I've said?

            "Would you rather have no freedom to make choices? Or limited freedom? Would you rather live in a padded room where you can't hurt yourself or other people and no one can hurt you?"

            I've been clear on what I'd "rather" the whole time: to not be forever tarnished by the sins of another, made weaker and more prone to displeasing the almighty, and at greater risk of suffering eternal damnation. All through no fault of my own. What about this confuses you into thinking I'd like to live a consequence free life?

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Andre, I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but I thought you were blaming God for allowing Adam & Eve the freedom to sin and cause harm on all future generations.

            Your sentiment you express is one I can relate to. Yes, I would rather not be inordinately tempted by sin. Nor do I want to suffer death, nor to suffer at all. It is terrible to know evil and suffering.

            St. Paul shared this frustration:

            "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

            21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

            St. Paul believed that because of Christ, we are not "forever tarnished" by suffering and death.

            St. John writes: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

            and... 'And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”'

            We should not doubt that God loves us or despair that He desires to heal us of the consequences of what Adam and Eve did. He has reached out His hand with a medicine for our condition. This medicine is a new life, a way of life, of truth, and of love. It is a life of hope for the restoration of all things. It is a life where our greatest desire - to love - is completely fulfilled. Death and suffering are both transformed into a sacrifice of love, where we give up ourselves for others, just as He gave up Himself for us. This is the cure He offers for the harm caused by Adam and Eve.

          • Susan

            >We should not doubt that God loves us or despair that He desires to heal us of the consequences of what Adam and Eve did.

            But there was no "Adam and Eve".

            >He has reached out His hand with a medicine for our condition.

            If there was no "Adam and Eve", what condition? Why buy medicine for a non-existent condition?

            >St. Paul believed that because of Christ, we are not "forever tarnished" by suffering and death

            Humans believe all kinds of things, many of which are demonstrably untrue. Why should I believe something because Saul of Tarsus believed it?

            >St. John writes: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

            The gospel of John was anonymous. And writing something down doesn't make it true, does it?

          • Andre Boillot

            "Andre, I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but I thought you were blaming God for allowing Adam & Eve the freedom to sin and cause harm on all future generations.
            [...]
            This is the cure He offers for the harm caused by Adam and Eve."

            Not arguing with the idea of free will or consequences. That is distinct from the idea that all subsequent generations should be punished for the acts of two individuals. Again, very generous of God to reach out to "heal" us, having broken us (or allowed the same) in the first place. It's the staggering injustice of this teaching that I object to, and applied anywhere us but the bible, it would be apparent to all.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            It just seems to me that you're whining that God allows us to hurt ourselves, and in this specific case, he allowed Adam and Eve to hurt themselves and all descendants.

            So again I ask, if you don't think humans should have the freedom to hurt each other, would you rather that everyone be locked away in isolated padded rooms?

          • Andre Boillot

            Jonathan,

            At this point, you should probably go the Costanza route, and go with whatever the opposite of what your intuition tells you. You keep trying to paint me as somebody that wants a consequence free existence. Where have I said this? Were this type of justice meted out by anyone else, it would be considered monstrous. That has been my point this whole time. Apparently that makes me a whiny pouter who has a hang up (also great examples of charitable dialogue).

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Hi Andre,

            You're right. It was uncharitable to use the word "whining". I am sorry for that. The more charitable thing to do would be to recognize your point of view and talk about the differences.

            In your position, you see God as punishing Adam and Eve with an unfair punishment. I see it as Adam and Eve having inflicted a terrible hurt on themselves and their descendants.

            So, when you say this is "unjust" you put the blame on God. Whereas I put the blame on Adam and Eve. I think we're clear on that.

            Christians do not believe God is the author of evil, therefore we do not see the Fall as an "unjust punishment" the way you do. An unjust punishment is an evil thing; if the Fall were an unjust punishment, then it would be a contradiction of our faith. But since we don't believe the Fall is an unjust punishment, then when you criticize this contradiction, you are only criticizing an impossible strawman of our faith.

            If you want to critique our our position, then you need to understand it first. I suggest to understand us, you need to find out how we can simultaneously believe God is love and at the same time hold that God allows great human evils with terrible consequences.

          • Andre Boillot

            Jonathan,

            "If you want to critique our our position, then you need to understand it first."

            FWIW, I was raised Catholic (very conservative/orthodox Catholic), and did the whole nine yards through college (alterboy, Catholic HS + University, retreats, etc.). I'm no theologian, but I would say I understand it, or at the very least, have above-average familiarity with it.

            "So, when you say this is "unjust" you put the blame on God. Whereas I put the blame on Adam and Eve. I think we're clear on that."

            I don't know how clear we are on these points. I don't put all the blame on God in this scenario. Clearly, he had one rule, and they broke it. I agree there should be consequences for actions, so I'm not saying they shouldn't be punished. However, God set the system up. Why have original sin being passed down for all subsequent generations be the only remedy for disobedience? If you're mad that you were disobeyed, why make it harder for everyone else to obey? Why did he choose a punishment that we would consider monstrous if carried out by any Earthly institution?

            "Christians do not believe God is the author of evil, therefore we do not see the Fall as an "unjust punishment" the way you do. An unjust punishment is an evil thing; if the Fall were an unjust punishment, then it would be a contradiction of our faith. But since we don't believe the Fall is an unjust punishment, then when you criticize this contradiction, you are only criticizing an impossible strawman of our faith."

            I don't think that pointing out a contradiction = criticizing a strawman in this case. Especially not when your defense of the criticism is a tautology. You're saying the punishment of Original Sin can't be evil because God cannot be the author of evil. This is like saying that God killing all the 1st borns isn't an unjust punishment because a) nothing is unjust when God does it / commands it; and b) Pharaoh was asking for it.

          • Andrew G.

            But Pharaoh wasn't asking for it :-)

            Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

            So much for free will, eh?

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Don't forget that the story says that YHWH "hardened Pharaoh's heart" [Exodus 9:12] so in effect, Pharaoh was forced to "ask for it."

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Hi Andre,

            I suggest you are misunderstanding the Christian paradigm on three points:

            1. You make assessments of justice without assessing the motive or the intent of the actor you're assessing (God, in this case).

            2. You make no distinction between the primary and secondary cause in your assessment of the justice of specific consequences.

            3. You assume there is no rational reason a loving God would allow great evil and great suffering.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            "Why have original sin being passed down for all subsequent generations be the only remedy for disobedience?"

            This question assumes that God is the cause of original sin.

            "If you're mad that you were disobeyed, why make it harder for everyone else to obey?"

            I think you are assuming with this question that God got "mad" at Adam & Eve. Catholics believe God is unchanging and it is people who change.

            "Why did he choose a punishment that we would consider monstrous if carried out by any Earthly institution?"

            We assume different things about who caused the consequences of the Fall. You say God "punished"; I say Adam & Eve "inflicted" these consequences upon themselves and all future generations.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Since it is virtually certain that the human race did not descend from two "first parents," the doctrine of Original Sin is badly in need of reformulation. The Catechism straddles the fence by acknowledging the story of Adam and Eve is in figurative language, and then by speaking of the sin of our "first parents." It doesn't make a story "figurative" to change the names of the "first parents" to Adam and Eve, or even to say their transgression was not eating forbidden fruit but was rather some other act of disobedience. There simply were no "first parents."

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Since it is virtually certain that the human race did not descend from two "first parents," the doctrine of Original Sin is badly in need of reformulation.

            But David, how could "reformulation" possibly be constructed when lack of The Fall obviates redemption?

          • Susan

            >But David, how could "reformulation" possibly be constructed when lack of The Fall obviates redemption?

            I wonder that myself.

            Instead of "reformulating", why not just consider the idea that the whole thing might be wrong?

            That seems like the most obvious answer.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            I would say that while it is impossible to maintain that the story of Adam and Eve recounts a historical event, I wouldn't exactly call it "completely fictional." As I said, the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges it is written in "figurative language." I would say it is more of a fable, legend, or myth. It attempts to explain (in some interpretations, and to put it very simply) why life is hard. One Jewish interpretation is that Adam and Eve begin basically as children, and that by their disobedience, they become autonomous adults, with all complications and burdens that necessarily entails. It seems to me that the story of Adam and Eve is a rather brilliant tale that defies any single interpretation. So while I think it is "fiction" in the sense of not having actually happened, I wouldn't want to just dismiss it as a primitive and erroneous account of how the human race came to be. I'd rather see it as a legend, fable, allegory, or whatever. If you take it on its own terms, it is a little literary masterpiece.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Yes, the story of A&E is one of the great creation myths coming out of the bronze age cultures of the world, and its place among fables is assured. These myths have had the power to shape world cultures, especially where they are held to be actually true. This one has a particular "blame the victim" thread to it where human nature is blamed for the harshness of life, and women are singled out and punished into perpetuity with unnecessary pain in childbirth [Genesis 3:16]. Beyond getting different cultures from different mythologies, isn't it time to put aside the fables from the childhood of our species and look upon the Universe, and our place in it, though the testable evidence it presents?

          • Longshanks

            "if the Fall were an unjust punishment, then it would be a contradiction of our faith. But since we don't believe the Fall is an unjust punishment, then when you criticize this contradiction, you are only criticizing an impossible strawman of our faith."

            In an ostensible "debate" or "dialogue" or "engagement" website, this sort of behavior is not acceptable. If you want to have respectful conversation with atheists, you may not approach it with the attitude of "you must feel and reason about my beliefs the same way I do."

            You believe the broken nature of every human since A&E to be just. We see that, and compare it to real, every day human existence and notice a discrepancy. In our daily lives, punishing every generation, into perpetuity, for the deeds of their forebears is not just unjust, it is insane.

            If you want to get traction in our minds, if you're hoping the spread the Good News, yelling at us for not feeling that petulant and sadistic behavior is in tune with "God is love," instead of accepting the spin you put on it is counterproductive.

            Of course I understand that you believe the opposite thing. I think you'll find that most of the atheists here are well versed in your beliefs. Do not accuse someone of arguing against a straw-man simply because they don't accept your context.

            Not only do I know and fully understand most of the dogma of the your catholic church, I have little difficulty understanding your belief in the framework of someone who is the victim of abuse.

            Victims often come up with wild, contorted justifications for the abuse their suffering. "Stockholm" syndrome, "battered wife" syndrome, whatever you want to call it. Victims of abuse are often drawn into accepting a state of mind where the abuser is on a pedestal, granted rights and privileges that would be unthinkable in other circumstances.

            No. I, and from what I can tell most of the others here, do not "misunderstand" your teachings. We simply refuse to see them in the context that you do. I see that context as the mental/cultural edifice which allows the victims and perpetrators of abuse to feel justified.

            The doctrine of original sin attended by fundamental flaws in every subsequent human being (except, of course, Mary and Jesus) is not a doctrine of love and justice.

            It is sadistic and evil.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Victims often come up with wild, contorted justifications for the abuse their suffering.

            The idea that respect for the doctrine of Original Sin may be rooted in Stockholm syndrome is quite interesting, and worth checking into. Christopher Hitchens may have made some remarks along that line.

          • Longshanks

            They're for their, d'oh.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            It's okay. We knew what you meant. I did not even notice.

          • fredx2

            It is only evil and sadistic if you don't really understand what it is saying. One of the problems nowadays is that the New Atheists continually misprepresent the actual teachings of the church.

            The doctrine merely acknowledges the obvious - that human beings have a capacity to sin and that capactiy must be struggled against.

            "You believe the broken nature of every human since A&E to be just. We see that, and compare it to real, every day human existence and notice a discrepancy. In our daily lives, punishing every generation, into perpetuity, for the deeds of their forebears is not just unjust, it is insane."

            As I have said before, this "broken nature" only gives you a slight tendency to sin. YOu can easily overcome it. Our whole sociiety gives you backup on this and teaches you not to do bad things. Parents spend years teaching their kids to do good.

          • Michael Murray

            Christians do not believe God is the author of evil,

            So if not your omnipotent god who does make the earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes and who designed nature to be a pit of suffering and torment.

            Michael

          • fredx2

            If you surveyed all of mankind, what percentage do you think would say that their lives were "a pit of suffering and torment"?

            Not many, I would wager. Yet that seems to be the bleak view of life prevalent among many athests.

            After two thousand years, you wold think that atheists would have made more of an inroad. But they haven't. This, Despite the fact that no one can prove the existence of God.
            The game is stacked on the side of the atheists, yet they have not prevailed.

            Why, in the one example of a atheist society, did it kill 100 mil

          • cowalker

            If you believe that human suffering from scarcity, disease, predation, injury, old age and death is entirely due to the Fall, how do you explain the suffering of animals from exactly the same causes from the time before the Fall--during billions of years of evolution? In fact, it is impossible to reconcile evolution with the absence of these causes of suffering. At the very least one would have to imagine a Creator who deliberately chose a means of creation that required constant suffering, and then suddenly repealed natural law on behalf of humans when he gave them a soul. He exempted them from the suffering of their fellow animals--until they sinned, and then they were back in the same boat as their fellow animals. At this point believers in a benevolent God can say that human suffering has the purpose of refining the soul. So what was and is the purpose of animal suffering?

            When an atheist looks at this scenario, he has to ask--what is more likely?
            a) Humans evolved like animals, do not have a special invisible soul component, and never had a magical opportunity to escape from the suffering that is bound up in being a material creature in a material universe or,

            b) Humans evolved like animals but received special invisible soul components from the invisible creator, who also exempted them from suffering, but who then set up a test for two pre-historic humans that involved terms that just happened to result in all subsequent humans appearing to have no supernatural advantages over other animals.

            When one judges what is the most likely explanation for a situation, it is based on experience. Based on my experience--lacking encounters with invisible entities and invisible components of humans--I choose 'a.' To me, 'b' sounds like a desperate attempt to make humans "special" by explaining away all the circumstances that keep humans from looking "special." It reminds me of a child who fantasizes that his "real" parents are wealthy royals who will someday show up and validate his sense of being special.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Hi cowalker,

            "If you believe that human suffering from scarcity, disease, predation, injury, old age and death is entirely due to the Fall..."

            I don't think I said that suffering is entirely due to the Fall. I think I said that Adam & Eve caused great harm and suffering.

            If by claiming that (a) is "more likely", you mean that (a) is a simpler explanation for the observations you outlined, then I agree.

          • cowalker

            "I don't think I said that suffering is entirely due to the Fall. I think I said that Adam & Eve caused great harm and suffering."

            No you did not. I assumed, clearly incorrectly, that you believed human suffering was entirely due to the Fall. So do you reject the implications of the Biblical story that human suffering is the result of the Fall? You simply reject that meaning? I simply reject the entire story because it doesn't seem either logical or likely.

            In any case, I still don't see how "b" explains the purpose of animal suffering.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Hi cowalker, see my reply to severalspecies.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Since even the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledge the story of Adam and Eve is in "figurative language," I am not sure why "the Fall" is discussed as if Adam and Eve were real people whose transgression was to eat forbidden fruit. But taking the story at face value, if there was no evil in the world before Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, why was there a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to begin with? If there was no evil, how could there be knowledge of it? Also, if you lack knowledge of good and evil, how can you be responsible for choosing evil when you don't know what it is?

            Cowalker asks a good question regarding evil and suffering. I think it's safe to say that we know there were hurricanes, tsunamis, forest fires, predation, and death in the world long before there were human beings. Nature was "red in tooth and claw" long before human beings existed.

          • fredx2

            Sorry about the "hang up" language. That sort of shocked me when I saw it. I assume the guy was just in a hurry and did not take the time to be civil. You are asking civil questions and engaging in a good dialogue and you did not deserve that.

          • fredx2

            He did not "break" you in the first place. He allowed you to make choices where you can break yourself if you want to. the world has multitudes of structures to keep you from being harmed by this, but if you are to be truly free, you need to have hte freedom to reject God.

          • fredx2

            What did we get? We got free will. We got a tendency to sin, which is easily overcome in most cases, and for which society and religion continually innoculates us. We get parents and teachers and philosophers who continually teach us and keep us on the right road.
            Don't make it into a death sentence.

          • severalspeciesof

            God did...

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Jonathan Brumley,

            But they did not die. Adam lived to be 930 years old! The Serpent was telling the truth. God was not.

          • severalspeciesof

            "Adam&Eve also have a great responsibility. When they chose
            knowledge of good&evil, this choice affected all future generations,
            just like Obama's choice whether or not to press the red button"

            Unfortunately, even if the story of Adam and Eve is granted as being true, this is not what their situation was. BEFORE they ate from the tree, they were only told that they would die if they were to eat it. Absolutely no mention of any other effects. So exactly what responsibility (beyond themselves) would they be cognizant of? Only AFTER they ate were further conditions placed upon them. Plus when one thinks of it, what was death to Adam and Eve? It didn't even exist for them before they ate from the tree. It would be like telling a blind person (who has had no knowledge of any sighted person or thing) that if they do something they will then begin to see.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            severalspecies,

            You don't always know all the consequences of your actions; but that doesn't make you less responsible for them.

            "Officer, I thought hitting him with a baseball bat would only maim him. I didn't mean to kill him".

            Regardless of whether you knew hitting him with a baseball bat would kill him, you still killed him - and there are consequences of killing.

            Adam & Eve did not want to die. They just wanted to know good and evil. The serpent tricked them by showing how he didn't die (right away) when he ate from the tree.

            If we knew all the consequences of our actions ahead of time, then we would have perfect knowledge and perfect foresight. But we don't have that. We're constantly being tricked by Satan into something that seems good at the time.

          • Susan

            >"Officer, I thought hitting him with a baseball bat would only maim him. I didn't mean to kill him".

            Maiming someone with a baseball bat is a terrible thing to do, much worse than eating a piece of fruit before you had any notion of good or evil.

            Add to that that apparently an omnipotent being told Adam and Eve (who didn't exist) that the consequences of eating fruit would only be felt by them and then it turns out that they caused evil to enter into the world for all non-human life forms and for billions of humans who hadn't even been born yet.

            Sorry. Your baseball bat analogy doesn't work. The consequences of taking a baseball bat to a sentient life form
            are obvious and direct.

            >If we knew all the consequences of our actions ahead of time, then we would have perfect knowledge and perfect foresight. But we don't have that. We're constantly being tricked by Satan into something that seems good at the time.
            We don't know the future? Therefore, Satan?

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Susan, you remind me of my 6-year old daughter. She does something mean to her brother, and I take her to her room. She yells "hey, you didn't give me a warning". But the truth is I have told her hundreds of times. It doesn't matter how many times, she still thinks it "unfair".

            I tell my two-year-old not to run into the street. I say it is dangerous, there are cars, and he could get hurt. If he does run into the street, and I catch him, then I will enact some "punishment" such as taking him in and not letting him play outside.

            What if he does run into the street. Does he understand how terrible the consequences are? I don't think so. He's starting to realize he can get hurt when he does certain things, but he's two.

            If he runs in the street and gets run over, maimed for life, I supposed he could blame it on me because I didn't fully explain the consequences.

          • severalspeciesof

            Jonathan, I see you didn't curse and relegate your daughter to a life that would have further misery beyond what would happen naturally, the first time she did something unwise. I believe that's love and compassion that's occurring with you. Question is, why didn't god do the same?

          • Jonathan Brumley

            BTW, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says the story of Adam & Eve is figurative. To think the story is about eating actual fruit from the wrong tree is way oversimplifying things. If your hangup is that eating fruit from the wrong tree doesn't cause generations of suffering in real life, then I agree with you.

            Adam & Eve were like two-year-olds in this sense: they did not and could not have understood the consequences of what it would mean to "know good and evil" before they actually knew suffering and death. They simply had no experience of evil to relate to before their "eyes were opened" when they ate from the tree.

            Explain what you're really getting at here. Are you mad at the universe because humans are allowed to hurt each other? Or are you upset because we don't have perfect understanding of the consequences of our actions? Are you saying that a loving God can't exist because human suffering exists? Or what?

          • Susan

            It is a creation myth, one of many. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_myths

            There was no Adam and Eve. They are characters in a story.

            So, how do we get from a metaphor to literal claims about original sin?

          • Ignorant Amos

            I thought I was losing the plot reading this thread for so long and nobody was pointing out the fallacy of using two mythical characters to support such an untenable theological position.

            Sense and reason prevailed eventually though.

            Now what do the Catholic members of this forum think about the subject?

            Considering the following...

            "The teaching on Original Sin is a fundamental truth to be believed by all Catholics; otherwise why did Jesus die on the cross? Why do we need Baptism, even for infants? Do we call or accuse Scientists who push the ‘theory’ of evolution ‘EVOLUTION FUNDAMENTALISTS’ because of their insistence of their teaching on Evolution although it is but a theory? Where is the balance in all this? Be at peace knowing that the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ upon St Peter teaches us about Adam and Eve and Original Sin. Instead of name-calling, one ought to discuss these issues honestly and with charity"

            So lets discuss the issues with honesty and with charity. I'll go first.

            "When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own." (Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Humanus Generis 1950)

            I know what that infers to me, what does it say to the pious here?

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Hi AI. That is why my strict literalist friends get so worked up about the subject. As they see it, if you can show that Genesis is not literally true, you can't know what is true. They don't go along with the transition that the Magisterium made into metaphor allowing theology to detach from scripture, as needed to get over inconvenient facts. You probably remember that good discussion that the former Vatican Astronomer, George Coyne, had with Richard Dawkins about the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeF5x_5zxlw

          • Ignorant Amos

            I do remember that interview. It's unfortunate that they can't get he whole thing together and read from the same hymn sheet.

            I'm also reminded of Bill Maher's interview with senior priest, Father Reginald Foster, outside the Vatican.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9FdbGxbSk4

            "Foster was featured, in an interview segment conducted in front of the Vatican, in the 2008 film Religulous. In his interview with Bill Maher, Father Foster candidly admits that he does not believe Hell to be a place of literal burning, that December 25 was not the birth date of Jesus, and that the opulence of the Vatican is not in keeping with the original message of Jesus. He describes such beliefs as "nice stories" and part of the "old Catholic thing."

            Reginald Foster O.C.D. (born November 14, 1939 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an AmericanCatholic priest and friar of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. He formerly worked in the "Latin Letters" section of the Secretariat of State in the Vatican. This section is the successor to the historical Briefs to Princes. Father Foster became one of the Pope's Latinists in the late 1960s. After spending many years in Rome, he returned to Milwaukee in 2009.

          • Michael Murray

            You should watch the careful analysis here Susan and ponder its theological implications

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGASvVqzOa0

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Thanks for the link. In fact, I read Campbell's The Power of Myth in high school so I'm pretty familiar with this.

            In his epistles, St. Paul wrote about the human condition. The concept of original sin and its effects comes from his explanation of what happened at the fall of Adam and Eve. The concept was further developed by St. Augustine and St. Aquinas. The Church, over time, discerned which writings of the Septuagint and the apostles were true and inspired. The collection of inspired works is the canon if scripture (the Bible). Both Genesis and St. Paul's writings are included in the canon.

          • Michael Murray

            Are you mad at the universe because humans are allowed to hurt each other?

            Why would an atheist be mad at the universe ? Where does allowed come into it ? Think about what you are saying. We are the ones who think the universe is devoid of purpose and humanity an accident. You are the ones who think it has a mind. Try and think about how it looks to us for a few minutes.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            I don't think it's rational to get mad at the universe, or to get mad at God. That's exactly my point.

          • severalspeciesof

            Jonathan, Sorry for not responding earlier... once away for any amount of time it's difficult to maneuver through Disqus... anyway...

            you say: "BTW, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says the story of Adam & Eve is figurative."

            Then you proceed to explain what it means, which is actually very close to what I think. Yet all this still only makes sense if there was a *first* sin (regardless of an actual Adam and Eve).

            My objection is still then that of the idea of 'punishment' and how that punishment goes way way beyond any 'fairness' being meted out.

            But beyond all the above, the idea that god needs to speak to us in a 'figurative' language, which is ripe for misunderstanding, and then getting all twisted up in vengence when we don't quiteunderstand it right, is what I feel is unfair. If your god exists in the way the church claims, we are but infants in regard to understanding anything, even now. Figurative language can never be full understanding, for if it was, it wouldn't be figurative.

            For the record I am not mad at the universe, for any reason. If I believed in a god I would be upset that I don't have perfect understanding of the consequences of my actions... but I don't believe there is a god, so no I am not upset about imperfect understanding (I wish there was, but that's just a wish. I can deal with reality). And last, yes I am saying that a loving god (your *perfect* loving god) can't exist since if it did, why the need to right an imperfection (sin)? Perfection can't beget imperfection, else that very idea nulls the idea of being perfect.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            With almost any story in scripture, the wisdom and meanings can go very deep. I can't even scratch the surface, but here are some of my reflections on the story of the Fall:

            1. God has from the beginning of rational man's existence, had a relationship with man.
            2. From the beginning of rational man's existence, God made man free to choose between good and evil.
            3. The root of all temptation to evil is pride, deceit, and a disproportionate desire for a lesser good above a greater good.
            4. If humans had always chosen good from the beginning, then we would today be living in Paradise (at least, by comparison).
            5. There are very harmful consequences to choosing evil, and these consequences are passed down from generation to generation.
            6. When humans choose evil, they feel shame and hide from God.
            7. When humans choose evil, they find themselves weaker to temptation in the future.
            8. Death (both spiritual and physical) is a result of choosing evil.

            The story of the Fall also foreshadows the Redemption:

            1. As humanity fell from goodness by turning away from God, humanity will be redeemed when he turns back to goodness as a result of knowing God's love for him.
            2. As man fell by abusing freedom, he will be redeemed by the use of freedom for its purpose, which is the pursuit of love.
            3. Temptation will be overcome through humility, truth, and a change in man's will by which he will love God (and goodness) above all else, and all created things in their proper proportion.
            4. Whereas much suffering (physical and spiritual) is the consequence of choosing evil, joy will be the result of choosing good.
            5. The choice of good will have healing consequences which will be passed down from generation to generation.
            6. When humans choose good, they will feel the consolation of knowing truth and goodness.
            7. By a change in will where man loves goodness above all else, he will be strengthened against temptation to evil.
            8. Whereas suffering and death are consequences of choosing evil, joy and life are the consequences of choosing good.

            That's a start. Perhaps you can see how I interpret the story not as a made up "myth", but as a true figurative.

          • cowalker

            Thank you for pointing out your post to severalspeciesof.

            Your reflections on the story of the Fall are certainly reasonable musings on a story. But if we accept it as just a thought-provoking myth it is no more satisfying than the stories about Prometheus bringing fire to humans, or the Buddha receiving enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. We can have very interesting thoughts about those stories also, but they tell us about how humans think about themselves rather than providing actual information about the universe and human origins.

            If you agree with me that humans evolved like all the other animals on earth, never enjoying freedom from scarcity, disease, injury, predation, old age and death, doesn't this pretty much take away the main point of the story? As a story, the main theme is that humans once experienced a Golden Age when they were in harmony with their Creator but lost it as a consequence of disobeying this Creator. This is supposedly why they needed redemption by Christ.

            If you take away the period of human exceptionalism from suffering, you are left with humans who emerged like other species with the natures that the evolutionary process shaped. Not surprisingly humans didn't turn out to be any more perfect than any other animal, which could hardly surprise or disappoint the designer of the evolutionary process. So humans live according to their natures, and sometimes they are good to each other and sometimes they hurt each other. So what is redemption for?

            And taking the creation story as figurative still doesn't explain or give purpose to billions of years of non-human creatures suffering through the evolutionary process.

            .

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Other creation stories have some elements of truth; in fact, it is to be expected that most creation stories would have some resemblance to a common human understanding of human beginnings.

            I am not aware of any particular Catholic dogma about the extent of pre-Fall suffering among animals and proto-humans. I agree with your point that continuity is the "simpler" explanation for the observations you have laid out.

            I view creation as a preparation for rational man, and for Christ (whose incarnation united man with God). So when I look at it, the possible discontinuity of a short pre-Fall existence for rational man doesn't bother me much. It makes sense rather that some discontinuity would have occurred at the time when creation was fully prepared for the arrival of rational man.

            Someone who considered the biblical writings to be inventions of deceitful men could not be expected to come to this same conclusion.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Jonathan, I know of no anthropological evidence of any "discontinuity" in the natural history of humanity. Do you?

          • Susan

            >I view creation as a preparation for rational man, and for Christ (whose incarnation united man with God). So when I look at it, the possible discontinuity of a short pre-Fall existence for rational man doesn't bother me much.

            It is completely inconsistent with an omnibenevolent, omnipotent being. To inflict needless and horrific (and I mean HORRIFIC) suffering on non-humans with the capacity to suffer, to do it for hundreds of millions of years before our particular species existed under our definition of species, to continue to do it to this day in unfathomably cruel ways just to "prepare" an incomprehensible and unevidenced special deal with a small percentage of one species doesn't add up at all.

            It bothers me a lot. It doesn't make logical sense and if there were a mind behind it who is in control of things, it's an unspeakably immoral mind. Sorry if I don't see someone who sets the farm on fire and rescues me from the flames as my hero.

            >Someone who considered the biblical writings to be inventions of deceitful men could not be expected to come to this same conclusion.

            Too many humans were involved in what results in the various bibles we have today to simplify it as "inventions of deceitful men". Humans get things wrong, we fool ourselves, we fool and are fooled by others and there are plenty of people who willfully deceive for their own gain. Any combination of these factors has meant we are prone to getting things terribly wrong. .

            None of "the bibles" distinguish themselves from these familiar explanations for superstitious thinking.

            I'm still unclear about your position, Jonathan. Disqus has made it difficult to follow the flow in each person's comments. I need to ask you this. I apologize if you've answered it previously.

            Do you believe there was an actual pair of first humans from which the rest of us are descended?

          • Jonathan Brumley

            > To inflict needless and horrific (and I mean HORRIFIC)
            suffering on non-humans with the capacity to suffer

            OK, I see you believe there is no possible reason that a loving God would allow evil and suffering in the universe.

            > Any combination of these factors has meant we are prone to getting things terribly wrong. .

            OK, so you believe it's a combination of deceit and mistake. Are you this skeptical about all writing, or just the Bible?

            > Do you believe there was an actual pair of first humans from which the rest of us are descended?

            Yes. But I don't think this is that remarkable, scientifically. Are you familiar with Mitochondrial Eve? If we are all descended from the same mother, then there are two possibilities - that she had a single sexual partner, or multiple sexual partners. I don't know what are the odds are that pre-historic woman had a single sexual partner, but the odds seem reasonable.

          • Susan

            >OK, I see you believe there is no possible reason that a loving God would allow evil and suffering in the universe.

            Can you give me one?

            >Are you this skeptical about all writing, or just the Bible?

            As I said, I see no reason to believe the bible is special. I am sceptical about "sacred" writings. I'm assuming you are sceptical about all the other gods BUT Yawheh. I am sceptical about all the other gods AND Yahweh. He doesn't distinguish himself as something that exists outside of human stories and traditions.

            What is special about your book?

            > Are you familiar with Mitochondrial Eve? If we are all descended from the same mother, then there are two possibilities - that she had a single sexual partner, or multiple sexual partners. I don't know what are the odds are that pre-historic woman had a single sexual partner, but the odds seem reasonable.

            How did you calculate your "reasonable" odds?

            I know it's from Wikipedia but the scientific consensus seems to support it, if you want to look more deeply into it:

            "There is nothing in the Mitochondrial Eve theory to suggest that biblical Eve has anything to do with Mitochondrial Eve, or vice versa. Mitochondrial Eve had a mother, was not the only woman of her time, and Y-chromosomal Adam is unlikely to have been her sexual partner, or indeed to have lived in the same time as her."

            Also from the same article:

            "Mitochandrial Eve is estimated to have lived 200,000 years ago."

            And from the Chromosomal Adam article:

            "A paper published in March 2013 determined that, with 95% confidence and that provided there are no systematic errors in the study's data, Y-chromosomal Adam lived between 237,000 and 581,000 years ago"

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Hi Susan,

            >>OK, I see you believe there is no possible reason that a loving God would allow evil and suffering in the universe.

            >Not just allow but inject.
            > Anyway, can you give me one?

            In your moral philosophy, how great is the avoidance of suffering and the enjoyment of pleasure? Are these two things the greatest goods, or are there greater things?

            In the Christian philosophy, avoidance of physical/emotional suffering and the enjoyment of physical/emotional pleasure are good things, but they are not the greatest goods. Greater goods include life, freedom, and love/charity/agape. The greatest good for man is to experience God's sacrificial love, and to offer that same sacrificial love, the giving of self, to God and others. All creation and all events in time are a preparation that we might freely experience the true, eternal joy that is the complete and mutual receiving and giving of oneself with our eternal beloved, God Himself.

            God allows suffering and evil so that all of us may experience this everlasting joy. All created and temporal things God created are good, but less good than this.

            Suffering is very very hard, but for the Christian, there is meaning in suffering. When faced with suffering, we are not left with the option of cursing God, the universe, or ourselves. Rather, in suffering, we are united with our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His incarnation, gave Himself to us in suffering. In our best moments, we are like Him, in that we offer our sufferings for Him and for all our brothers and sisters in the human family.

            Here's a couple of links:
            Father Barron: God, the Tsunami, and the problem of evil
            Jennifer Fulwiler: The Cold, Cruel Fate of a World Terrified of Suffering.

            Regarding the Bible, it's not like most "spiritual books" because it's mostly a historical narrative of the Jewish people, the life of Jesus Christ, and his apostles. There's very little wisdom literature or prophetic stuff in the book, so you can't dismiss it simply because it's a lot like "that".

            Jonathan

            PS I wrote a longer reply but then my computer crashed, so here's the short version so I can get to bed. Hopefully it's not too brief. I'll be glad to hear your reply and chat more later.

          • Susan

            >Suffering is very very hard, but for the Christian, there is meaning in suffering.

            Is there meaning In suffering for the old gazelle being eaten alive by predators? Is there meaning in suffering for the baby coyotes who slowly starve to death because their parents were shot by farmers?

            Suffering might do wonders for you but the idea that billions of life forms lived, struggled, suffered and died on this planet for much longer than we've even existed just so christians would have the opportunity to find meaning in suffering suggests that this god is irrational and not a very nice god at all.

            You are suggesting that he made parasites, that he designed teeth that are likely to go bad , driving his creatures half mad with agony and eventually killing them, that he set predator against prey in a cruel struggle of survival, that he designed droughts and floods and diseases and starvation and aggression and forest fires and ASTEROIDS for goodness' sake, all of this before we even existed.... so that christians could find meaning in suffering?

            Thank you for taking the time to respond and I'm sorry you lost your longer post. I hope you can appreciate that I don't find your explanation satisfactory. It just doesn't make sense when looking at all the evidence around us and even if it were true, I couldn't call it "good".
            Maybe you'll fill in some of those gaps for me when we chat later.
            Thanks.

          • Jonathan Brumley

            Hi Susan,

            I don't see the deaths of these irrational animals and their suffering as evil. If I did think animal suffering were evil, then I would be a vegetarian. But I'm not a vegetarian. Also, even though my teeth can and will break down, I'm grateful for the durability.

            Yes, I think all these things have a purpose (even ASTEROIDS). I don't know exactly what purpose, but certainly for a greater good. I doubt that that these things are created SO THAT we (or animals) can experience suffering, but certainly suffering exists, and God allows it.

            Maybe I am finding it hard to relate to your perspective on these observations. For instance, do you think meat eaters are evil?

          • Andrew G.

            A few random facts about Mitochondrial Eve:

            1. It's not mathematically possible, given that we are a sexually-reproducing species with external resource constraints on population, for her not to have existed - the only question is how far back, which depends only on population patterns over time. (Strictly speaking, she exists with probability 1.)

            2. She had at least two daughters who left descendents, and everyone alive now is descended from at least two of them, but only one of those lines of descent (not the same one for everybody) is strictly female.

            3. If she also had sons, then each of those sons is either an ancestor of everyone alive today or no-one alive today, nothing in between.

            4. If she had one sexual partner, then that partner is an ancestor of everyone now alive (but so are many other males of the time, see below). If she had more than one, each of them is either an ancestor of everyone now alive or no-one.

            5. If any daughter of Eve who has living descendants had a single sexual partner, then that partner is an ancestor of everyone now living, and so are all of their ancestors (male and female). If instead she had multiple partners, then each partner and their ancestors is either an ancestor of everyone now living, or no-one.

            6. Who she is changes over time, but always meeting these constraints.

          • Michael Murray

            I tell my two-year-old not to run into the street. I say it is dangerous, there are cars, and he could get hurt. If he does run into the street, and I catch him, then I will enact some "punishment" such as taking him in and not letting him play outside.

            Do you really leave a two-year old unsupervised in a place where he can get physical access to a road with cars on it ?

          • Jonathan Brumley

            I don't know about your experience with kids, but my two-year-old is one fast guy. The other day I was at the park, my eyes strayed for a few seconds, and all of a sudden he was 50 feet away.

            Raising children is a process of gradually increasing the freedom you allow them . The more freedom you give them, the more the risk. Because I love my children, I want them to have all the freedom of an adult someday. So, I gradually let them go, even though the risk is great.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            ... tricked by Satan into something that seems good at the time.

            Got evidence?

          • severalspeciesof

            Jonathan,

            You are speaking as though Adam and Eve had experience in the idea of 'consequences'. They were quite simply, 'infants' with regard to this idea.

            There's a reason we don't lock up and then place on death row, 4 year olds who pull the trigger of a gun and kill or maim someone.

            When you say: "If we knew all the consequences of our actions ahead of time, then we would have perfect knowledge and perfect foresight. But we don't have that." you are admitting that god didn't create us perfectly. If that is the case, god gets the responsibility placed squarely at its footstep and should then face its own consequences...

          • jxramos

            There is one principle that might take this discussion into a new direction, and that is that God being all good makes every act of His a good one. If we visit the text surrounding original sin we will find that there was an opportunity for “worse” consequences to unfold that had to be precluded from man’s freedom and ultimately necessitated his exit from the garden.

            Consider this handful of verses from Genesis taken from the USCCB’s bible website…

            Genesis Ch 2

            9 Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.

            15 The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.

            16 The LORD God gave man this order: "You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden

            17 except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die."

            Genesis Ch 3

            22 Then the LORD God said: "See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever."

            23 The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.

            24 When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.

            This preclusion from the tree of life has been something I’ve contemplated at moderate length, and maybe you all could share your own thoughts about the purpose of it, and just what some of these “worse” consequences could be imagined should man have eaten of both trees.

            It seems to me the key to understanding this preclusion is stated in verse 3:22. Man was apparently in a fallen state after eating of the fruit and was highly vulnerable to something worse by still having access to this tree of life that would allow him to live forever. There’s something about this combination which suggests some absolutely unredeemable state that perhaps not even the redemption of Christ could resolve. One analogy that springs to my mind from this combination is the lore about the immortal undead. We’re told that vampires who cannot die, who experience everything under the sun and find their existence drowning deeper and deeper into meaninglessness, to ultimately strain in an unending hellish existence in itself. I’m not sure if that analogy applies exactly but it intuitively seems in the right direction. There’s something in their nature that is in the end unsatisfactory when pressed to the scales of eternity.

            So here’s the crux of the matter, why did allowing humanity to enter into a severed state capable of death and concupiscence become the better choice in this situation. What was so terrible about the alternative of being fallen and yet living forever. Perhaps that scenario was already experienced, albeit not from corporeal beings but from angelic spirits, i.e. with Satan. Did Satan in his rebellion assume a nature that was irreversible, somehow permanently damaged? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I have faith in the principle stated earlier, that God is Good and His Will is always enacted for our benefit, though it may seem difficult, obscure, painful, as well as presenting any other cocktail of confusion our human intellect cannot parse.

            Here’s a flipside to question on the preclusion: what flavor of immortality did that tree of life present that created such a conundrum? As far as I know we have immortal souls, but it is our bodies that are mortal. What sort of wound to our corporeal bodies could not be remedied once the tree of life was tasted of that necessitated its death and ultimately its redemption. Our nature is such that we are inspired bodies, so maybe the trouble in this circumstance is that the soul could be healed but the body could not once the tree of life was eaten. In that case our nature would be forever disfigured, completely irremediable, permanently damaged.

            In spite of this conundrum I say blessed be God forever.

            Good night everyone, thanks for an interesting discussion.

    • CBrachyrhynchos

      Or more appropriately, "What Original Sin?" Original Sin comes out of a uniquely Christian interpretation of Genesis. Obviously if there is no deity, then there is no way to be estranged from deity. If deity is truly omnipresent, then there's no way to be estranged from deity.

      Alternately, if you read Genesis as about growing up into a mature relationship with G-d rather than separation from G-d, then Christ is the wrong answer to a non-existent problem. Neither G-d or the legal system accept third-party accountability for crimes. (G-d, in this view, is likely substantially more benevolent than our criminal justice system.)

    • jomat

      Not only atheists, all other "good people" who have not repented of their sins too are guilty before God. Remember the reference of Jesus of the people on whom the wall of Siloam fell? They were good people, but perished due to lack of repentance. "You shall perish likewise if you do not repent," said Jesus, meaning, they did not repent. We can be very good people and still go to hell, except we repent and accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.

  • Mark Hunter

    That Catholics believe that Christ died for all has never really been in question but that how Catholics take "nulla salus extra ecclesiam" has been. I'm old enough to remember the pre-Vatican II sermons where priests routinely said that atheists because they didn't accept God or Jesus would be doomed to eternal damnation.

    I know that no Catholics can ever say a particular person is going to hell but those who die with a mortal sin they commit with full knowledge and intent cannot go to heaven.That is me. I was raised Catholic, have more knowledge of the Catholic Church and its teaching than most Catholics (sin of pride as well) and with full intent do not go to Church on Sunday (against a commandment) so that's a mortal sin. I'm going to hell. Except of course I do not believe it (or heaven) exists.

    Redemption, according to Catholic theology, is universal, Salvation is not. When I grew up that teaching was presented in no uncertain terms. Today Catholics, even the Pope, seek to water hell down (as if they can cool its hypothetical fires). Why? Because the concept of hell is unacceptable in society and Catholics are seeking to back track on that teaching as much as possible.

    • Steven Greydanus

      Mark Hunter: Whatever priests did or didn't say in pre-Vatican II homilies, even prior to Vatican II it was Catholic teaching that non-Christians might be saved by grace though Christ's atonement without coming to explicit Christian faith or receiving baptism. See for example the CDF's response to Fr. Feeney in the 1940s.

    • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

      I would say that the idea that the saved will enjoy watching the eternal suffering of the damned roasting in eternal flames, suffering endless physical pain, and being subjected to ghastly tortures is something the Catholic Church quite rightly "backtracks" on, because it is barbaric and primitive. To the extent hell is affirmed, it is affirmed as a choice made by a person to turn away from God. It is difficult to believe that God created creatures with immortal souls only to have the fate of many or most of them be to populate a place of eternal torture.

  • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

    I am not sure of the point here. Is it supposed to be that everyone is redeemed, because Christ died for all, but that no one who does not accept Jesus is saved? It is my understanding that (to put it very simply) anyone who does the best he or she knows how—anyone who would acknowledge the truth of Christianity if he or she had a clear choice to do so—is saved. The idea that one must explicitly acknowledge Jesus as his or her savior is not, to my knowledge, a Catholic idea. For example, it is not assumed that the inhabitants of the Americas who had absolutely no way of knowing about Jesus, let alone embracing Christianity, were all damned. Although the Church doesn't claim absolute certainty about infants who die without baptism (including aborted babies), it certainly does not teach that they necessarily go to hell because they did not know and embrace Jesus.

    I think the Catholic position is that atheists can be saved. In fact, anyone can be saved if he or she embraces good (or perhaps, better stated, does not embrace evil) to the extent circumstances make it possible.

    What kind of all-loving God would condemn people who in all good faith did the best they could given their circumstances? (One might ask what kind of all-loving God would condemn anyone for all eternity? But that is another topic.)

    • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

      From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

      "Outside the Church there is no salvation"

      846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

      Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

      847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

      Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

      848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."

      • Mark Hunter

        846 only says the Church in necessary for Salvation and that those who reject it knowingly cannot be saved.

        847 and 848 just cover those who like pre-Columbian native Americans had no knowledge of the Gospels but were sincere.

        • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

          Mark Hunter,

          If you are trying to imply that those who have heard of the Gospel and/or Christianity cannot be saved if they do not embrace it, I don't think that is what the Catholic Church teaches. There may be other obstacles besides complete ignorance of the existence of Christianity that stand in the way of a person embracing Christianity. Certainly the Church does not teach that Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and others of non-Christian religions are damned if they have had some exposure to Christianity but have not embraced it.

          I don't think the point of Nostra Aetate was that the Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in non-Christian religions but nevertheless believes any adherent of a non-Christian religion who has heard of Christianity but does not embrace it is going to Hell!

          • Mark Hunter

            No, i'm not. But these exeptions only apply to those who do not know the Gospel, like Jews, Buddhists, etc. But once they know the Gospel, then they know "that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." they are in trouble,

          • Andrew G.

            Well, at the risk of mixing metaphors from civil and criminal cases, the atheist position then becomes "move to dismiss for insufficient service of process".

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Mark,

            So Jews, Buddhists, and other non-Christians are off the hook, but Protestants—who know the Gospel but do not join the Catholic Church—are going to hell, I presume?

  • Michael Bayer

    Brandon,
    Thanks for your thoughtful article, but I'd suggest there are a few points of clarification needed.

    When you assert that "the point" (we'll grant for the moment that there is ever a univocal interpretation for a given passage of Scripture) of the story from the Gospel of Mark is that one need not be Christian to perform good works, you're a bit off. The author is intentional about indicating that those performing the deeds were doing so, explicitly in Jesus' name. (That's what bothers the disciples.) It's more akin to a group of folks from a given church setting up shop in a public park in town, handing out sandwiches to the homeless and offering free flu shots, ostensibly in the name of the Catholic Church, but without the knowledge of the local pastor. One could imagine the head of the social justice committee breathlessly complaining in the parish office that these folks claim to be carrying out their ministry in the name of, say, St. Mark's, but that they're unaffiliated with any of the formal parish ministries, and many of the lay leaders aren't even sure who they are.

    A more apt Scripture passage for the topic you undertake to consider would be the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21). The son who professed publicly that he would do the Father's will is akin to the many Christians who sit in Church and proclaim the tenets of the faith, but who for the rest of the week fail to live a life that reflects them. The son who does not verbally agree to do the Father's will, but who then goes out and does so anyway, are analogous to the many people who "reject" (or at least do not explicitly accept) the Christian faith, but who nonetheless "do the Father's will" in how they live their lives.

    Everything in your analysis hinges on what it means to "accept" the offer of salvation. Certainly, that's been the central point of contention among disciples of Jesus since the early Church. Does one need simply confess that Jesus is Lord? (Romans 10) And is it possible to confess something authentically, or to believe it in one's heart sincerely, without that belief penetrating every fiber of the person's being and every moment of the person's day, in such a way that good works necessarily issue forth from the person, as heat radiates from a fire? (Martin Luther)

    Can one be an "anonymous Christian," as articulated by Karl Rahner, and ultimately as adopted into the Magisterial teaching of the Church in Lumen Gentium, "Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of their conscience"?

    There is no single, agreed-upon understanding of what it means to, as you denote in your piece, "accept" the offer of salvation. Which is a good thing, because we enter precarious territory when we purport to know definitively the mind of God and to arrogate to ourselves an unambiguous category of who's saved and who's not.

    By the way, it's worth mentioning in your piece that, even for those of us who do believe we're saying, "Yes," to that offer of salvation both with our words and the way we live our lives, even our initial ability to say, "Yes," is a result of grace. The word "grace" is conspicuously lacking both in the vocabulary of many Catholics (including ordained ones) and your article discussing the particulars of soteriology. We do well to remember that it is only by the grace of God that we can even accept that offer of salvation, lest we fall into the semi-Pelagianism to which so many of us unconsciously subscribe.

    Again, thanks for your post. Glad to see this being discussed by so many people!

  • Marko Obradović

    I agree!

  • Meta-N

    Brandon, As an old school atheist who grew up reading Steven Jay Gould (non overlapping magisteria) , I really appreciate the message/apologetics from the new pope. Just last week the Huffington Post ran an item titled "Pope Francis Insists Church Must Help Poor, Not 'Speak Of Theology'". This story also topped out on reddit.

    The (inward facing) message I'm hearing from the new pope; tone down the apologetics and lets all work together for a better life.

    What are you hearing from the inside as to the future direction of apologetics?

    As an outside observer, I can already sense a slight softening of the inward facing apologetics radio show on WETN. What is you take on the future direction of the inward facing apoligetics? Am I correct in my sense of a more inclusive brotherly tone?

    • Dcn Harbey Santiago

      Hi Meta-N

      Hunffington Post said "Pope Francis Insists Church Must Help Poor, Not 'Speak Of Theology'. The thing is...The Church already does this and HP had chosen to ignore it, because the Church's message does not meet their "agenda". Just take a look at what Caritas, CRS, Knights of Columbus,, etc. do; not to mention all the food cellars and homeless shelters particular parishes sponsor. In our Archdiocese we have 79 different organizations dedicated exclusively to helping the poor.
      Francis is not saying anything new, JPII and B16 said the same things. But since the HP never cared about what they had to say, now all the sudden they report it as something new. I say, good for them! Please, more Francis! Perhaps now we will see a fair characterization of the Church's work for the poor.

      "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
      Deacon Harbey Santiago

      • Meta-N

        Dcn Harbey Thank you for the reply. Yes, I fully understand the charity & theology are unchanged. What I'm detecting is a change in the style and emphasis of apologetics. Do you agree? What are the discussion y'all have on the inside regarding the direction of apologetics?

      • Meta-N

        Dcn Harbey Thank you for the reply. Yes, I fully understand the charity & theology are unchanged. What I'm detecting is a change in the style and emphasis of apologetics. Do you agree? What are the discussion y'all have on the inside regarding the direction of apologetics?

      • Waldo

        The church should spend money on the poor, since the church is rich and pays no taxes.

  • Maria L B

    I tried to bestow this wisdom upon HuffPost's comments section. Talk about a barren wasteland. Haha

  • severalspeciesof

    I'm sorry Brandon, but your analogy doesn't go far enough:

    >Perhaps an example will help clarify the difference between redemption and salvation.
    Suppose you destroyed your friend's car causing $10,000 in damage.
    You're taken to court, and the judge sentences you to five years in
    prison for the crime. But then I burst in and tell the judge, "My name
    is Brandon Vogt. I'm this man's friend and I want to pay his penalty.
    Whatever it costs to fix the car and make things right, I'll pay it."
    The judge agrees.<

    I understand stepping in for another, but I feel there's been a sleight of hand here. It's the penalty (the description of 'redemption' if you will). Rework the above with this: "You're taken to court, and the judge sentences you to a painful and grueling death for the crime.", which is essentially what the gospel stories say about Jesus death. Had you put it that way, attention would then be more towards 'Hey, that's a penalty that far outweighs the situation'

    The Pope here sidesteps the issue of hell (which is what Jesus is 'redeeming' us from, right?), though admittedly he was probably not conscious of that...

  • severalspeciesof

    I'm sorry Brandon, but your analogy doesn't go far enough:

    >Perhaps an example will help clarify the difference between redemption and salvation.
    Suppose you destroyed your friend's car causing $10,000 in damage.
    You're taken to court, and the judge sentences you to five years in
    prison for the crime. But then I burst in and tell the judge, "My name
    is Brandon Vogt. I'm this man's friend and I want to pay his penalty.
    Whatever it costs to fix the car and make things right, I'll pay it."
    The judge agrees.<

    I understand stepping in for another, but I feel there's been a sleight of hand here. It's the penalty (the description of 'redemption' if you will). Rework the above with this: "You're taken to court, and the judge sentences you to a painful and grueling death for the crime.", which is essentially what the gospel stories say about Jesus death. Had you put it that way, attention would then be more towards 'Hey, that's a penalty that far outweighs the situation'

    The Pope here sidesteps the issue of hell (which is what Jesus is 'redeeming' us from, right?), though admittedly he was probably not conscious of that...

  • ToS999

    “Redemption is universal, salvation is not.”

    A thousand times no. You cannot just redefine the word redemption like this, a word which in Catholic theology also entails being restored to a supernatural state (i.e. salvation).

    Here is the simple solution:

    The Pope means what you say he means but his choice of words is poor.

    I know it’s hard to say the Pope made a mistake (in choice of words)
    because for some reason the modern Popes must have all their actions and
    words defended as if the faith itself is dependent upon it. So to say that they made a mistake is for some the equivalent of criticizing Divinity itself.

    EVEN if the word redemption means what you say it means it is still a mistake. Why?
    Because people like HuffPo, liberals, and neo-modernists of all kinds will jump
    on this ambiguity and twist to their destruction.

    THIS is the problem with modern documents/speech/actions in our age; full of imprecision and ambiguity in which the enemies of the Church jump all over to hijack to their own end. So again, even if you are correct in the definition of the word it is still a mistake because it is easily misinterpreted.

    • William Barto

      ToS999: I don't think that the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia can really be called "neo-modernist":

      Whether the effects of Redemption reached out to the angelic world or to the earthly paradise is a disputed point amongtheologians. When the question is limited to fallen man it has a clear answer in such passages as I John, ii, 2; 1 Timothy 2:4 and4:10; 2 Corinthians 5:16, etc.; all bearing out the Redeemer's intention to include in His saving work the universality of menwithout exception. Some apparently restrictive texts like Matthew 20:28 and 26:28; Rom., v, 15; Hebrews 9:28, where the words "many" (Multi), "more" (plures), are used in reference to the extent of Redemption, should be interpreted in the sense of the Greek phrase no pollon, which means the generality of men, or by way of comparison, not between a portion of mankindincluded in, and another left out of, Redemption, but between Adam and Christ. In the determination of the many problems that arose from time to time in this difficult matter, the Church was guided by the principle laid down in the Synod of Quierzy [Denzinger-Bannwart n. 319 (282)] and the Council of Trent [Sess. VI, c. iii, Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 795 (677)] wherein a sharp line is drawn between the power of Redemption and its actual application in particular cases. The universal power has been maintained against the Predestinarians and Calvinists who limited Redemption to the predestinated (cf. the councils named above), and against the Jansenists who restricted it to the faithful or those who actually come to faith [prop. 4 and 5, condemned by Alexander VIII, in Denzinger-Bannwart, 1294-5 (1161-2)] and the latter's contention that it is a Semi-Pelagianerror to say that Christ died for all men has been declared heretical [Denzinger-Bannwart, n.1096 (970)].

      That seems to support Brandon pretty well.

      Grace and peace to you!

    • William Barto

      ToS999: I don't think that the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia can really be called "neo-modernist":

      Whether the effects of Redemption reached out to the angelic world or to the earthly paradise is a disputed point amongtheologians. When the question is limited to fallen man it has a clear answer in such passages as I John, ii, 2; 1 Timothy 2:4 and4:10; 2 Corinthians 5:16, etc.; all bearing out the Redeemer's intention to include in His saving work the universality of menwithout exception. Some apparently restrictive texts like Matthew 20:28 and 26:28; Rom., v, 15; Hebrews 9:28, where the words "many" (Multi), "more" (plures), are used in reference to the extent of Redemption, should be interpreted in the sense of the Greek phrase no pollon, which means the generality of men, or by way of comparison, not between a portion of mankindincluded in, and another left out of, Redemption, but between Adam and Christ. In the determination of the many problems that arose from time to time in this difficult matter, the Church was guided by the principle laid down in the Synod of Quierzy [Denzinger-Bannwart n. 319 (282)] and the Council of Trent [Sess. VI, c. iii, Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 795 (677)] wherein a sharp line is drawn between the power of Redemption and its actual application in particular cases. The universal power has been maintained against the Predestinarians and Calvinists who limited Redemption to the predestinated (cf. the councils named above), and against the Jansenists who restricted it to the faithful or those who actually come to faith [prop. 4 and 5, condemned by Alexander VIII, in Denzinger-Bannwart, 1294-5 (1161-2)] and the latter's contention that it is a Semi-Pelagianerror to say that Christ died for all men has been declared heretical [Denzinger-Bannwart, n.1096 (970)].

      That seems to support Brandon pretty well.

      Grace and peace to you!

      • ToS999

        No it does not because you confusion the power of Redemption with Redemption itself. The Pope says Jesus “has redeemed all of us” not that redemption is offered to all of us, hence the ambiguity.

        Your quote is talking about the extension of redemption and who it is offered to, it doesn’t say that a man who is in hell is “redeemed” yet not saved. THIS is where the confusion lies; calling someone redeemed yet not saved – that is NOT the equivalent of saying redemption is offered to all because Christ’s sacrifice can be applied to all.

        The Redemption as a salvific act is accessible by all but to say that someone is redeemed is to say they have a life of grace and supernatural grace which is what the Catholic Encyclopedia 1911 says; the very thing you quote:

        “On man's part, it is both a deliverance from the slavery of sin and a restoration to the former Divinemadoption, and this includes the whole process of supernatural life from the first reconciliation to the
        final salvation.”

        Hence:

        Redemption = salvation

        Access to Redemption = offered to the "generality of men"

      • ToS999

        No it does not because you confusion the power of Redemption with Redemption itself. The Pope says Jesus “has redeemed all of us” not that redemption is offered to all of us, hence the ambiguity.

        Your quote is talking about the extension of redemption and who it is offered to, it doesn’t say that a man who is in hell is “redeemed” yet not saved. THIS is where the confusion lies; calling someone redeemed yet not saved – that is NOT the equivalent of saying redemption is offered to all because Christ’s sacrifice can be applied to all.

        The Redemption as a salvific act is accessible by all but to say that someone is redeemed is to say they have a life of grace and supernatural grace which is what the Catholic Encyclopedia 1911 says; the very thing you quote:

        “On man's part, it is both a deliverance from the slavery of sin and a restoration to the former Divinemadoption, and this includes the whole process of supernatural life from the first reconciliation to the
        final salvation.”

        Hence:

        Redemption = salvation

        Access to Redemption = offered to the "generality of men"

    • Waldo

      If you want to see imprecision and ambiguity, read the bible.

  • ToS999

    “Redemption is universal, salvation is not.”

    A thousand times no. You cannot just redefine the word redemption like this, a word which in Catholic theology also entails being restored to a supernatural state (i.e. salvation).

    Here is the simple solution:

    The Pope means what you say he means but his choice of words is poor.

    I know it’s hard to say the Pope made a mistake (in choice of words)
    because for some reason the modern Popes must have all their actions and
    words defended as if the faith itself is dependent upon it. So to say that they made a mistake is for some the equivalent of criticizing Divinity itself.

    EVEN if the word redemption means what you say it means it is still a mistake. Why?
    Because people like HuffPo, liberals, and neo-modernists of all kinds will jump
    on this ambiguity and twist to their destruction.

    THIS is the problem with modern documents/speech/actions in our age; full of imprecision and ambiguity in which the enemies of the Church jump all over to hijack to their own end. So again, even if you are correct in the definition of the word it is still a mistake because it is easily misinterpreted.

  • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

    It is not a question of rejecting salvation; atheists don't believe in the existence of either the judge or the crashed car. This makes as much difference to us as it would to you (theologically), if the Mormons changed some technicality about baptizing your dead relatives. We don't believe in your deities, and as such, don't care how your church claims those are going to deal with us.

    • Octavo

      Jesus said both: "He who is not with me is against me" and "He who is not against me is for me."

      Regardless of the existence of hell, I always prefer it when Christians emphasize the latter sentiment.

      • Michael Murray

        Regardless of the existence of hell, I always prefer it when Christians emphasize the latter sentiment.

        Particularly as they are quite capably of making our lives hell here and now without need to resort to enternity.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Q, if this were true, that non-Catholics (specifically atheists) don't care what the Catholic Church teaches about the possiblity of salvation for atheists, then the Huffington Post article never would have been written, would not have been shared, and would have attracted very little feedback. The fact that it *did* garner so much attention, mostly from non-believers, seems to disprove your claim.

      • Longshanks

        We might not believe in your gods or their hypothetical torture chambers for our own sakes, however we live in a society.

        Unfortunately in that society, there are many people who do suffer under the burden of those teachings. Some of us have come from more-or-less "serious" or "orthodox" catholic subcultures, and are very well aware of the psychological pain children brought up to believe these doctrines suffer.

        And quite apart from the humanitarian aspect, we all love curiosities I think you'll have to admit, and many of you celebrate, that catholic teachings are a bit of a niche market, and it's not surprising that seemingly odd proclamations from your church got attention, that doesn't necessarily mean that anyone at HP or their readers secretly takes you seriously.

      • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

        Thanks Brandon. That is why I put the "(theologically)" in there. Of course it matters a great deal to us on a personal esteem level, and how we are treated. There have been laws against atheists (some still on the books, but unenforceable) testifying in civil court because it was reasoned that lack of fear of damnation would translate to no obligation to tell the truth.

        Recent polls show us to be as distrusted as rapists, and anything that might get religious people to take a closer look at us as people (outside theology) is more likely IMHO to be better than worse (hope I am not wrong about that).

        • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

          Q, I agree that many atheists have been unjustly discriminated simply for not believing in God. But I fail to see how that fact supports your claim that "We [atheists] don't believe in your deities, and as such, don't care how your church claims those are going to deal with us."

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            It does not support that; I'll try again to explain the difference. There are two concepts going in parallel. One is RCC teaching about "salvation" re atheists, and the other is how atheists are treated by religious people, here, on Earth during our actual lives. The first part is theological, and the second part is caused by the content of the theology. We don't care how the RCC changes its theology because we are not believers in deities in the first place (or Original Sin or The Fall), You could merge with Hinduism and declare that Jesus and Krishna are two manifestations of the same divine person, and atheists are reincarnated again and again until we convert, and it would make make no theological difference to us because we don't believe in divine beings.

            My point about the discrimination is that we do care how we are treated by other people we meet day to day. For example, atheists often talk to each other about not being able to tell their family members (about being atheists) because those family members are religious and have been taught to believe that atheists will burn in Hell forever. You don't want to be the person who causes the mother who loves you to go into emotional pain and suffering from believing she is going to be looking down on you in those flames.

            That is why something that does not matter to atheists on the theological level can matter on the living life level. If Catholics begin to see atheists as not necessarily going to Hell, it means Catholics might come to distrust us less, and gives our family members, who may be Catholic, an escape clause from the mental torment of envisioning us in eternal torment. If the Pope is telling you that you can stop assuming that your non-believing friends and family are sure to go to Hell, that would be a good thing for you, and if it leads you to treat us better, also a good thing for us.

        • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

          Gosh, I actually get to agree with Quine for once.

          There is exactly zero logical connection between atheism and rape, inability to provide truthful testimony in a court of law, etc.

          It is true that atheism is a catastrophically inadequate alternative to Catholic metaphysics and theology, but that's part of the fun- how would we be able to demonstrate, anew, to a generation never exposed to Catholic theology and metaphysics, its superiority, were it not for our atheist friends here providing us the challenge?

          :-)

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 9, verse 12:

            "She kept him safe from his enemies, and she defended him from seducers, and gave him a strong conflict, that he might overcome, and know that wisdom is mightier than all."

      • Dan

        I would say if atheist DID care what the Catholic Church teaches about the possibility of redemption of atheists, then that atheist is probably on his way "home" to the church, anyway!

        Even when I was an agnostic many years ago -- I at least WANTED Christianity to be true, and actually WANTED God in my life (as I understood him). In fact, I first asked "God" into my life (without knowing the details of Christ's work) while on an LSD trip when I was 17.

        Although I didn't have the clarity, nor the graces I get now as a Catholic -- clearly something real and substantial changed in my life that day --- even if I had no idea what it was at the time.

        • Waldo

          It's called hedging your bets. Many Christians do this in an effort to "make sure" they can get into heaven on the outside chance there is one. Agnostics do the same thing. They say "I don't really think there is a god, but I won't become an Athiest just in case."

          An Agnostic is just an Athiest without balls and a "Cafeteria Christian" is just a right wing Christian without balls.

          • Waldo

            In case someone out there doesn't know what a Cafeteria Christian is--A Cafeteria Christian is a person who espouses to be Christian, but they pick and choose which of the Christian rules they believe in. They may go to church on occasion, but not always, they may be for gay marriage but against abortion, etc.

          • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

            Waldo, I actually agree with you. You may be interested to read Pope Benedict XVI's remarks from last year:

            "Agnostics “long for a pure heart” and actively are searching for God, they “are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is ‘routine’ and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting it touch their hearts, or letting the faith touch their hearts.”

      • articulett

        I think atheists who come from a Catholic background might care because they might have relatives who are afraid that their loved ones will be tortured forever for leaving the faith. You don't want your mom to be in anguish because her religion indoctrinated her to think that people like her child are going to hell. I know lots of Mormons feel upset that their parents think that they are no longer "sealed" to them for all eternity.... and Scientologists feel bad that their family has to shun them if they leave the faith so as not to get drawn into the darkness. All the virulent religions do some version of this. I can't even understand why anyone would have children if they think there's even the slightest chance that a child they brought into the world could suffer for all eternity-- could anything be more horrific? Clearly it would be better never to be born-- or to die as a fetus or child so you can get the eternal goodies, without the threat of eternal damnation. Even parents that are just a wee bit afraid this might be true could be heavily influenced to indoctrinate and manipulate their children into the faith-- just in case, right?

        But really... it's sort of silly to me and I imagine to most atheists... it's like Muslims debating whether Christians will go to hell for believing Jesus is god or if their intent is good enough to save them from eternal punishment for blasphemy (god said to have no other gods before him, you see-- and "there is no god but Allah-- and Mohummed is his prophet".) I suspect there are many more atheists than people realize-- they just don't want to upset their family members who have a lot invested in their magical beliefs.

        What people imagine happens after death has very little relavence to those who understand that consciousness requires a material brain. What you imagine happens to your dogs consciousness after it's death has no real bearing on what actually happens nor what is actually possible-- and the same is true of people.

        • Waldo

          You are right about many people keeping quiet about being Athiests to avoid upsetting their parents, siblings, etc. Last year I was at a family gathering and a couple of our bible thumping relatives went on a religious rampage. I wanted to jump in, but decided not to in order to avoid upsetting loved ones. I got up, grabbed a beer and went outside to help out with the grill.

      • Andrew G.

        FWIW, I'd be surprised if the PuffHo didn't have a lot more Catholic readers than atheist readers.

        As for the reaction from atheists, consider it as a contrast with the kinds of dehumanizing rhetoric we normally see from the Catholic church.

      • physicistdave

        Bradnon,

        What some of us atheists care about is the profound moral corruption of our fellow citizens that comes from their believing that innocent human beings deserve eternal torture in Hell.

        It is not our immortal souls that worry us; it is the corruption of their character.

        Dave

        • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

          Which of course is not what Catholics believe. You've simply concocted a straw man and thereby violated our Comment Rules, either intentionally or unintentionally.

          • stanz2reason

            Brandon... a few things...
            1) Perhaps it'd be more productive if you didn't whip out the 'violated our comment rules' so often. I know there's a balancing act between keeping some focus in the discussion and avoiding hitting the censor button so to speak. But to continually invoke the 'rules' sounds more and more like a kid who threatens to take his toys and go home when the other kids aren't playing the way he wants. Your house, your rules of course, and we're all free to leave. But if it's a dialogue you want, my suggestion might be worth considering.

            2) What happens to catholics who 'accept jesus' when they die? Where do they go?

            3) What happens to non-catholics who 'accept jesus' when they die? Where do they go?

            4) What happens to people who lead morally sound lives, who do not in any meaningful way acknowledge the divinity , the works, or even the very existence of christ when they die? Where do they go?

          • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

            stanz, thanks for the comments. I'll respond to each:

            1) Unfortunately, due to the nature of these conversations, we have to be heavy-handed with our comment policy. It's the only way to maintain charitable and fruitful discussion. As I'm sure you know, the Internet is full of religious discussions based on mockery and insult. However, there's no room for that here. If it seems to you this moderation makes us childish, that's a small price we're willing to pay for productive dialogue.

            2) I'm not sure what you mean by this question. A Catholic is, by definition, someone who has accepted Jesus. If they die in friendship of God in a state of grace, then they will remain with him forever (in what we call Heaven.) If they die rejecting God's redemptive love, in a state of grave moral sin, then they remain separated from God forever (in what we call Hell.) The choice is ours. We choose God or reject him here and our decision holds for eternity.

            3) My answer here would be the same as number two.

            4) This is a complicated question and cannot be generally answered. The possibility of salvation for a non-Catholic depends on many subjective factors like whether they accepted or rejected the knowledge of God that was possible for them to attain and the level to which they're responsible for their rejection of Christ's redemptive offer. The Church's teaching on this matter can be summed up well in paragraph 16 of the document, Lumen Gentium:

            "Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126) But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(20*) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature",(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention."

          • stanz2reason

            Brandon,

            With regards to the commenting policy enforcement, I feel it's more often aimed at the visiting team rather than the home team (so to speak), though in fairness to you the visitors might be more prone at times to warrant such enforcement. Still, I don't feel the distribution of warning has been even handed. I don't recall many (if any) instances of possible strawman arguments made by catholics being called out as a policy violation. Again, judge as you see fit. As will I.

            I do not acknowledge the divinity of christ. I do not acknowledge any authority of the church. I do not acknowledge a single supernatural act described in any story ever told or work composed by anyone, and furthermore feel that those promoting the existence of such things deserve to be treated with the same intellectual respect we'd give to someone suggesting the belief in santa claus. I do not acknowledge the existence of god. I believe what we refer to as our conscious-self is likely the product of our natural brain and will cease to exist upon death, though I find myself open to speculation if for no other reason than it's a somewhat comforting thought. Aside from that I live what would be considered a highly moral life. I have excellent friends and family who I adore and devote my time too. I donate time and money when I have enough of either to spare. I'm kind to familiar & stranger alike. I'm a productive member of society. The guilt of my sins is limited to a number of parking tickets, the occasional white lie & touch of gluttony (I am an American after all :) )

            Where am I going when I die?

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            Wherever you want. That's the whole teaching of Salvation. When you die, and see God, will you say yes or no?

            The Church doesn't know. No one does. That's why the Church makes no definitive statements about who is going to Hell.

          • stanz2reason

            So based on the churches knowledge and any position they might take, that my actions and beliefs while on earth, either good, bad or indifferent, whether blasphemous or saintly are utterly irrelevant to getting into heaven so long as after you die and meet god in you agree to stay in heaven. Would you say that is a fair statement to make?

          • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

            stanz, I simply don't have time to read through all the comments but me and the other moderators try to be careful and fair in moderating. The reason more atheists have been warned is because 1) ~70% of the comments so far have been from atheists and 2) on this site, they've simply violated the comment policy more. More atheists have posted sarcastic, mocking, insubstantive comments than Catholics. We have warned (and blacklisted) some Catholic contributors, but if you think some have missed our watch please help by flagging the particular comments.

            You say, "[I] feel that those promoting the existence of such things deserve to be treated with the same intellectual respect we'd give to someone suggesting the belief in santa claus." I would hope that you would treat *everyone* with intellectual respect, even those you disagree with. To have any sort of fruitful dialogue we must carefully and considerately engage other people's claims. If you're unable to do this without resorting to mockery, insult, or sarcasm, then this may not be the right place for you.

            Finally, in regards to your last question, nobody can authoritatively answer that question other than yourself. This is because you're the only one who can examine your intentions, your awareness of spiritual matters, and the state of your soul.

          • stanz2reason

            I would hope that you would treat *everyone* with intellectual respect, even those you disagree with.

            What sort of intellectual respect would you give to someone who insists the earth is flat? Would it be the same as to someone who insisted it was round? Is there any sort of fruitful benefit by granting each view an equal respect?

            It's not a case of disagreement so much as the equivalency of the evidence offered to support the claims. In that regards there is an equivalent amount of evidence to support supernatural christian claims as there is to the existence of santa clause. That you find this equivalency an instance of 'mockery, insult or sarcasm' then perhaps you'd be better served re-examining the evidence you're putting forth rather than getting upset at something that seems pretty obvious being pointed out. If you don't understand what I'm asking of you, however well intentioned you're being, you're ultimately wasting your time with this site.

            Would it then be fair to say that whether I or anyone else spent not a moment adhering to catholic belief & tradition, and even put forth effort opposing such beliefs & traditions that this in no way has any effect on if I get into heaven for all eternity?

          • physicistdave

            Brandon wrote to me:

            > You've simply concocted a straw man and thereby violated our Comment Rules, either intentionally or unintentionally.

            Well, Brandon, I’ve finally figured out (call me slow!) that the purpose of your “posting rules” is to bias the discussion by turning a blind eye to blatant violations by your co-religionists (take Ted Seeber – please!) while you constantly claim that atheists who honestly express their views are violating the rules.

            Given the history of your “faith” (e.g., the “Holy Office”), I suppose I should have expected this from the beginning.

            Ah, well! What do you expect of Christians?

          • physicistdave

            Brandon wrote to me:

            > Which of course is not what Catholics believe. You've simply concocted a straw man

            Well, some of your co-religionists here have certainly espoused that view. A papal statement to that effect was posted on the other thread. We could start posting the NT references.

            And, then, your own OP goes into detail about why Pope Frank’s statement does not mean that atheists get a pass to go to Heaven; e.g., :
            > Redemption is universal, salvation is not. Redemption is a proposal we must accept and salvation is the result.

            Kinda a consistent pattern here, Brandon. Not a straw man to be seen.

            My own view is that if there is a God (which I have always freely admitted there might be), then all Christians go to Hell until they honestly abjure the belief that God was going to play favorites in terms of saving Christians from Hell. I figure some Christians should work this out fairly rapidly: I supposed that it should not take longer than a couple billion years for most of the Catholics posting here to work this out – i.e., not nearly eternity.

            Good luck! Contrary to Aquinas, I will not take joy (okay, not much joy) from your suffering in Hell.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Dave, isn't there a long chain of added beliefs you would have to step up to, without evidence, to get from existence of deities through "souls" through guilt in life to "life after death" to judgement after death to punishment after death get to existence of Hell, before you even arrive in Hell?

          • physicistdave

            Q. Quine wrote to me:
            >Dave, isn't there a long chain of added beliefs you would have to step up to...

            Oh, I figure if there is a God, he can make folks immortal if He wants to (omnipotence and all that). And, if He is a human sorta guy (which is basically what Christians assume) then He oughta be pretty annoyed about the monstrous crimes they attribute to Him.

            Ever read Niven's and Pournelle's retelling of "Inferno"? The theme is that "Hell is an asylum for the theologically insane." Which to me means Christians.

            Of course, I do not think there is a God, etc. But, if we are going to suppose, I figure my supposition is more sensible than the bizarre Hellfire scenarios of the Christians.

            Dave

      • CBrachyrhynchos

        If this were true, why would you care about the louder polemics of "new atheism" WRT to religious belief?

        I welcome his words because, in context, they were a call to a more civil interfaith dialogue, hopefully leading to a few less blog posts hitting my news feed that make a point out of demonizing me, my family, and my community for our lack of faith.

        Curiously the cultural statement that these discussions should be approached from a position of belief in mutual goodness has been overshadowed by attempts to rationalize business as usual in spite of that call.

        --Kirk S.

        • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

          Kirk, a few things in reply:

          1. You ask, "If this were true, why would you care about the louder polemics of "new atheism" WRT to religious belief?" I care because I think atheists are wrong and that they're souls are in serious jeopardy, both in this life and the next. Thus I have a very good reason to bring them to the knowledge of God. Atheist commenters, however, like Q. Quine, don't seem to have any discernible reason for caring what online Catholics think about atheism. If atheism were true, why care what Catholics think?

          2. I'm sorry if you've been "demonized" for your atheistic beliefs, but I'm not aware of Pope Francis, me, or any other posters here doing that. Lumping us in with others who do is unfair and offensive.

          3.Finally, you say. "[T]he cultural statement that these discussions should be approached from a position of belief in mutual goodness has been overshadowed by attempts to rationalize business as usual in spite of that call."

          I disagree and I think this site proves otherwise. In three weeks we've seen over 3,500 comments and roughly 98% of them have been civil and charitable, despite vast differences in belief.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Atheist commenters, however, like Q. Quine, don't seem to have any discernible reason for caring what online Catholics think about atheism. If atheism were true, why care what Catholics think?

            As I am being mentioned, here, I would like to reiterate that I was referring to what Catholics think about theology. My comment to that effect should show up at this point in the thread, but does not seem to. It is still there and will show up using this link.

          • Michael Murray

            If atheism were true, why care what Catholics think?

            Surely there is one immediately obvious reason. The Catholic Church pushes its beliefs, particularly in the areas of fertility control on the wider community beyond it's own adherents.

          • CBrachyrhynchos

            1. I think that's doubtful on two points. The first is the "lurker" problem in that you have no idea how many people don't respond. And I read the discussion that is posted about Francis's speech differently.

            A point I keep trying to make is that opinions about atheists matter more to me than opinions about God or deity. I think I saw (different) headlines about nuns and changes in Mass in the last few weeks. Those things are not that relevant to me. Francis's positive statement about atheists as moral people as opposed to Benedict's prior statements about atheists is something I pay attention to, because they have the potential to inform how we live and work together.

            It's rather weird to say that atheists responding to public statements about atheists indicate an interest in something other than that public statement.

            2. I apologize. I thought I was fairly clear that I was talking about editorials in mass media and blog posts published in other venues.

            3. Certainly I think the discussion here has been civil and charitable. I think this site is exceptional. But the discussion here has focused on the theological difference of opinion regarding the nature of salvation, and not on the potential for common values.

            --Kirk S.

  • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

    It is not a question of rejecting salvation; atheists don't believe in the existence of either the judge or the crashed car. This makes as much difference to us as it would to you (theologically), if the Mormons changed some technicality about baptizing your dead relatives. We don't believe in your deities, and as such, don't care how your church claims those are going to deal with us.

  • Christopher O Landreneau

    How can one do good if they are not in state of grace? Grace comes to us from living the sacramental life. So if I am a hit man for the mafia, give to the poor, attend mass etc, I am doing good?

    "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
    Does not make sense to me that the pope would say something like that. Obama said, "God bless Planned Parenthood," was that a good act?

    • Dcn Harbey Santiago

      Remember what the little flower said "Everything is Grace". We might not be able to understand it but God's grace acts never the less. I recall a blessing Mr Teresa gave to a US reporter in national TV. "May the Holy Spirit make use of your actions, even if you don't know it"

      "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
      Deacon Harbey Santiago

    • Michael Murray

      So if I am a hit man for the mafia, give to the poor, attend mass etc, I am doing good?

      No. Do you really have to be a Catholic to know this ?

  • Christopher O Landreneau

    How can one do good if they are not in state of grace? Grace comes to us from living the sacramental life. So if I am a hit man for the mafia, give to the poor, attend mass etc, I am doing good?

    "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
    Does not make sense to me that the pope would say something like that. Obama said, "God bless Planned Parenthood," was that a good act?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000557040029 Jennifer Blakeslee Peterson

    Thank you for this article. I enjoy your writing style! It's explanatory, captivating and to the point. ;-)

  • Father Gabriel OP

    Pope Francis cannot contradict his predecessors and the whole Christian Tradition which explicitly professes that Jesus Christ, by his death on the Cross and Resurrection, has in fact OBJECTIVELY redeemed the whole of creation. However, salvation is NOT automatic, in the sense that God having created IN FREEDOM humanity will not save us without US ASSENTING FREELY to His redemption in Christ and living it out. This is why the SUBJECTIVE dimension of Redemption is absolutely needed. As St. Paul expresses it in his way in Romans 10:9-10: "For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved". Pope Francis was merely saying that "doing good" is not the monopoly of Christians, but of everyone because God has created us in His image and likeness and therefore "even atheists" can be good and often are very good and that is a great "meeting point" of fruitful dialogue between the Church and atheists. So Huffington Post is more or less giving a twisted interpretation what Pope Francis has said which is repeating what the Catholic Church has always believed of and affirmed.

    • Mark Hunter

      I agree with your interpretation of the pope's remarks. As an atheist myself I was pleased with this comment especially when compared to some of the disparaging remarks made by the Pope Emeritus.

  • ponerology

    I truly wonder why it is the Pope makes purposefully vague statements. He must know how the vile media will spin whatever he says unless it's absolutely not "spinnable" and crystal clear. If we can't get clear Catholic doctrine from the top, where will it come from?

    • David Egan

      Maybe he knows how embarrassing the actual doctrine sounds and would rather not go down that road.

      • ponerology

        Your attempt at what you must view as humor falls flat. No one asked your opinion about Catholic doctrine. It is what it is. And no one is twisting your arm to follow Catholic doctrine either. If the Pope is Catholic then he is expected to know and to teach nothing other than Catholic doctrine in a clear and unadulterated manner. Presbyters, shamans, rabbis, gurus, or scientists, are not expected to know (or to understand or to accept) Catholic doctrine and they are free to teach whomever is willing to be taught the tenets of their particular beliefs.

        • Michael Murray

          Actually there is an invitation for atheists to come and offer there opinion on this website. Haven't year read the About page ?

          • ponerology

            Opinions have nothing to do with the precision, or lack thereof, in the statements by a Pope on Catholic doctrine. This Pope would do well to avail himself of fewer photo-ops and to make fewer media pronouncements which are not edifying to the Catholic faithful and only serve the goals of the Church's enemies.
            There comes a time when conversation is counter-productive. This is one of those times.

  • Claudio Nogueiras

    Now youtube atheists have their conscience in peace....

    • articulett

      Yes... just like you can rest in peace knowing that after you are dead, Mormons will be baptized in your names so you can get to their highest heaven.

      In a way, I think this is nice since religions have a very poor history when it comes to those who don't prop up their faith. Catholic parents can worry less that their beloved child will end up in hell for being gay or an atheist or Buddhist or whatever it is that Catholics past thought would land people in hell.

      It doesn't make me any more likely to believe that consciousness can exist absent a material body-- but I imagine it settles the fears of some Catholics. It seems a step forward out of the superstitious fearful past-- so bravo... maybe? But I don't think any atheist cares... just like Muslim pronouncements about what happens to Christians after death has little effct on Christians. As far as the evidence is concerned, you are all claiming to know things about things you cannot know.

  • Jim Guilday

    When you said, "Jesus' point here is that it's wrong to think people can't do good simply because they aren't Christian." I think you miss the forest for the trees. Notice Jesus said " performs a mighty deed in my name" In other words Jesus is saying if someone who is clearly a Christian but not of your group is doing the signs and wonders, don't interfere as if they are for us they can't be against us.

  • http://nolscuriosity.wordpress.com/ Nolan

    So all are redeemed, period. People simply need to accept the redemption. So what exactly, according to Catholicism, counts as accepting the redemption?

    • Waldo

      Falling to your knees and all of a sudden believing in everything the catholic church has ever taught about god and jesus and accepting it on faith alone and admitting the Christians have always been right and you have always been a dimwit until just now at the moment of your death. Piece of cake.

      • Jonathan Brumley

        Certainly humility is a big part of redemption. Instead of believing you're better than God, you say "sorry God, I was wrong".

        • physicistdave

          But I am better than your god: I have no intention of torturing the majority of the human race for all eternity.

          Christians for a few eons, perhaps.

          Dave

        • Waldo

          How about being a good human being but just not believing in god. Can I be saved if I don't believe in the big invisible man upstairs?

  • Nikkolai Zlamancka

    Message to Agnostics & Atheists

    Thursday, November 18th, 2010

    Video Message

    To those who claim not to believe in Me I have this to say. Ask yourself this question: Can you remember a time that you did? Think back to when you were a child when you did believe in God. It does not matter what religion your parents followed. Did you believe? What changed? Was it influence by others. Did they tell you that there was a rational answer to your being in existence?

    It has, since the beginning of time, been difficult for My children to accept the other existence outside of this one. Yet look around the world and see the wonders of the creation by my Eternal Father. The sun, the moon, the sea, the rivers, the plants, the animals and all the wonders of creation and answer this. Where did all this come from? Do you really believe it emerged from something other than a superior being? Be warned when you hear the lies spread by so called fortune tellers that exist in the New Age movement. They are being led into what they believe to be the truth and the excitement of the life promised to them in a new era. This era, to which they have been led to believe, is a new Paradise. A form of man controlled, but glorious centre of the universe. It is a false doctrine. Many people of God, including those who believe, mistakenly confuse their belief in this doctrine with that of the light.

    They are being guided by the demons. Some know that they are. Others don’t. Pray that they see the truth before they continue on their futile path to emptiness.

    To the Atheists I say this. I love you no matter how you offend Me. To the Atheists who are being led and influenced by other beliefs stop and think. In their quest to follow manmade reasoning, they are simply believing in another faith. The belief that man is in control. He is not. Yet these same people, My precious children, for whom I will fight, are being encouraged to follow Satan, the Deceiver, and enemy of mankind. Ask the Atheist who goes to extraordinary lengths to pressurise God’s children why he does this?

    Is it not enough to simply deny Me? Why do these people lie? Many of these Atheist groups have an agenda to entice and seduce My children into a false doctrine. Make no mistake their belief is another form of religion. A religion that exalts the power of intelligence, reason and pride. They emulate the very traits of Satan. They, in their blindness, follow another faith – the adulation of the Dark where no love exists.

    So passionate are these Atheists, so proud of their religion, that they do not understand that what they stand for is a religion – the religion of the Deceiver who laughs at their stupidity.

    Atheists hear Me one last time. Turn back to the scriptures now. Look at the Book of John and consider the truth as it begins to unfold now. Does it not seem real to you now, as you bear witness to events as they are laid bare, layer by layer each day before you.

    Can’t you see that My word, My prophecy foretold so long ago may be the truth? Open your eyes and talk to Me once as follows

    “God if You are the Truth reveal to me the sign of Your Love. Open my heart to receive guidance. If You Exist let me feel Your Love so I can see the Truth. Pray for me now”

    As I call on you, one last time I say this. Love is not made by man. You cannot see it but you can feel it. Love comes from the Eternal Father. It is a Gift to mankind. It does not come from the darkness. The darkness that you feel is devoid of love. Without true love you cannot feel. You cannot see the Light. You cannot see any future. I Am the Light. I Am the future. I bring you glory and life ever after. Turn now and ask for My help. Do that and I will answer you and envelop you in My Arms.

    My tears of joy will save you as you become My beloved child again. Come now and join Me in Paradise.

    Your Loving Saviour Jesus Christ

  • Waldo

    So it sounds like some of you are saying Athiests have been redeemed, but if we don't believe in god at the end, then we are not saved? Bla bla bla. So Jews who don't believe Jesus is the son of god cannot be saved unless they admit to your greater wisdom? Bhuddists cannot be saved unless they decide to believe in what you believe in? Just when I thought Christians were starting to get it, several of the Christians here are pulling back into their old ways. I'll do my best to live a good life, but I won't lower myself by pretending to believe in the invisible man in the sky when if fact I don't.

    • Jonathan Brumley

      If you believe in Love, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, then you actually believe in the same God as us Christians. If you live for love, and to love, and if you're sorry for when you have failed to love your wife or your brother or your fellow man, then we are alike in how we try to live.

      You may not be convinced that Love ever took the form of a man and died for our mistakes. But other than that, it's possible there is small difference between the two of us.

      • Michael Murray

        Well other than not being opposed to condom use, or abortion or prejudiced against homosexuals or thinking women should be men's handmaidens. Yep I'm basically a Catholic! Do you think I'll get past Saint Paul?

        • Jonathan Brumley

          I've tried condoms before I was Catholic, I definitely wouldn't go back.

          I wasn't always opposed to abortion. Having had three children and seen them on the ultrasound at 6 weeks after conception, heard their heartbeat, and seen them respond to touch, seen them mature into beautiful children - I'm not convinced abortion is no less than murder.

          I have plenty of gay friends, but I certainly don't believe that their mutual masturbation is the same as the reproductive act by which children are conceived and families are created. And yes, I think society should provide special support to families which are started when a man and woman joined by the reproductive act. And I think we should try to place orphaned children in homes with both a father and mother, because it is important for a child to have both the male and female example.

      • Waldo

        I do believe in love, truth, beauty and goodness, but I don't need for there to be a god to believe in those things. You are probably right--the main difference between us may be one of believing in god and one not. That is actually a small difference.

  • Waldo

    How about primitive people in parts of Asia, Borneo, etc who believe in various different gods and have no concept of "our" god and "our" jesus. They can live good lives and never be saved, because they don't turn to god at the end, but to their own personal versions of god?

    • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

      That was the whole point of the article. They can be saved. There's an "invincible ignorance" at play, which simply means that they could not have known, and will not be held accountable for not accepting what they never could have known.

  • Waldo

    Man created god because of our fear and dislike of death, disease, pestilence, war and all the other ills of the world. Religion gives us hope. False hope, but it's better than nothing. We use god to make us feel better when something goes wrong. We can pray for help and if it doesn't come, (which it frequently doesn't) we can just say, "it is gods will" and "one day we'll be in heaven and all will be ducky, hunkey dorey and nifty cool." We created god in our image because we aren't comfortable with the supreme being looking like Jabba the Hutt or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or even Angelina Jolie. We want him to look like us. We know that there is really no proof that he exists (why can't god be a she?) so we just say "You have to take it on faith." We ignore the fact that there have been close to a dozen different versions of the bible created over the last 2,000 years, each one created because the previous one had been "corrupted." If the bible were god-made and god was perfect, there would have only been a need for one bible--the perfect and unending true bible. To control "the people" the religious leaders have created heaven and hell to use as a stick and carrot to control the masses. Do what we say and you go to heaven. Don't do what we say, and you will burn in hell.
    Religion--the perfect con game. Ya gotta give it to the religious leaders. They make our politicians look like dimwits.

    • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

      Regardless of what you think of our religious leaders, you have to admit.

      Our politicians *are* dimwits.

      • Waldo

        Very true. Our politicians certainly don't need the pope's help in being dimwits. They do just fine by themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/amuchmoreexotic Ben

    Here's a more accurate version of your redemption analogy:

    Suppose you were wrongly accused of the destruction of an imaginary car, causing $10,000 in damage. You're taken to court, and the judge sentences you to a lifetime of hard labour for the crime. But then I burst in and tell the judge, "My name is Brandon Vogt. An ancient manuscript I found, in four slightly conflicting versions, obliquely promises that this man's car penalty will be forgiven. Whatever it costs to fix the car and make things right, a first-century wise man will come back to life and pay it." Meanwhile, dozens of other people also burst in and make competing claims that they too have found various ancient manuscripts and traditions which can restore the imaginary car. Some of them are waving copies of the first ancient manuscript, but disagree violently about the exact terms and conditions of the wise man's car insurance policy. A fight breaks out. Court is adjourned.

    • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

      Don't forget, Krishna is going to reincarnate (rebuild) the car!

  • Anonymous

    The problem is that people who write, read and believe what appears in the Huffington Post are pelagians. They say to themselves. "I am a good person so that if there's a heaven, I have as much right as anyone else to be there." No such thing as grace. They are good simply because they say they are good. The last thing Huffington's readers would say is, " I am a sinner who is in need of redemption."

    • Waldo

      Nothing like generalizing about people you don't even know. Spoken like a true Christian.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Anonymous, just a heads up that we require commenters to identify themselves to ensure respectful dialogue. Unless you log-in via Disqus or some other social media platform, we'll have to remove future comments. Thanks!

      • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

        Well, brandon, you and your fellow god pushers should set a 'good' example of "respectful dialogue" by forever stopping the dictatorial, threatening, sanctimonious denigration of anyone who doesn't worship you and your chosen, imaginary, sadistic, genocidal, so-called god.

        The catholic cult is especially despicable (although islam is in a virtual tie) for all of the murderous, culture destroying, child raping, persecuting, pillaging, atrocious, brain washing acts that they have committed and enabled throughout their history.

      • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

        Brandon,

        I am a big believer in people using their real names in forums like this, but someone who logs in as "Anonymous" is really no more or less anonymous as someone who logs in as—oh, say, to just pick a name at random—Jill. :P

        I notice G. K. Chesterton posts here, and as memory serves me, he passed away some time ago.

        • Michael Murray

          While I can see the need for heaven to have a firewall surely this site will be allowed through?

  • Mark Hunter

    Rev. Thomas Rosica cleared it up.

    "The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/05/24/vatican-representative-just-to-be-clear-atheists-are-still-going-to-hell/

    • Dcn Harbey Santiago

      Here is the complete quote for context:
      -------------------
      The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who
      aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter
      her or remain in her.”

      At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their
      situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving
      action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply
      because of so-called original sin.”
      ----------------------

      Based on what some atheists have written in this site, I wander if they can truly say they have ever become aware of what the Catholic Church is? Blessed Fulton Sheen once said that in the US there are only about 100 who hate the Church, the rest hate they idea they have of the Church. Big difference there. (Not saying atheists here hate the Church but there is a lesson to be learned in the quote).

      "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
      Deacon Harbey Santiago

      • Michael Murray

        So the best thing for me to do is to stop reading here in case I accidentally come to know the Church. Mind you I was baptised, first communioned and confirmed so that's going to be awkward. But my mother was Anglican so maybe I can make good use of that at the pearly gates. Unless of course God turns out to be Anglican in which case we are all for it.

        • Mark Hunter

          Same here. In my believing days I attended mass several times a week, read the Bible, papal documents, books by theologians that the pope approved of, etc. I hope I didn't do to much and end up like this guy http://api.ning.com/files/BAcPAB7hbbh4FE1YxvPsafHYsucYsx3I9k0j2PmCW81xLOWuOCa8qBNz*kxl*ilhNj8cL6uHVaNkZ0pmi5*YsEvSN0vpEMPn/WhyDidYouTellMe.jpg?width=600&height=600

          • Michael Murray

            Actually I might be wrong about leaving. Perhaps we should stay here and demonstrate our ignorance of the Church so it's all down in black and white. Do you think St Paul tracks our online posts ? Is there fibre up in heaven ?

          • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

            Because knowing and loving God, and avoiding hell, is infinitely better than *not* knowing and loving God and merely avoiding Hell.

            I don't see the issue.

          • Michael Murray

            Surely the point is if you don't know it's a apparently an automatic free pass to avoid hell. If you do know you still have to struggle against sin and there is always the chance of you, against all your best intentions, you might die in a state of mortal sin. Of course God in her wisdom might take your struggle into account. But that's all a bit more complicated than the alternative. I guess there is also the cynical view that once you know you have to give up some of the more enjoyable sins whereas if you don't know you can keep doing them and go straight to heaven. It seems a bit unfair like the parable of the prodigal son which I must admit was always tricky for me as a kid.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            It's not a free pass if you don't know, you still have to live according the law "written on man's heart". Natural law is influenced by epoch, customs, circumstance, etc.

            But if at the end of the day, you always tried to do good, and live according to that principle, then you have known Christ, just not by name.

          • Michael Murray

            I got raised by a Catholic father and an Anglican mother. As was a requirement of the RCC at the time I was raised Catholic. My religious observances were definitely more onerous than my mothers.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "Surely the point is if you don't know it's a apparently an automatic free pass to avoid hell."

            >> Utterly foreign to the Catholic Faith. Never taught. Never will be taught. Contradictory to what has been infallibly defined, and so the result of a misunderstanding/ willful mirepresentation (as the case may be) of the Faith.

            "If you do know you still have to struggle against sin and there is always the chance of you, against all your best intentions, you might die in a state of mortal sin."

            >> It's worse than that. Absent baptism, the Beatific vision is forever inaccessible to "you", absent some special intervention by God, of which we can never have any knowledge this side of eternity under any circumstances.

            It is true that the natural law is written on each heart- even the atheist will struggle, more or less, against sin.

            It is human nature to do so.

            That will not save him.

            His condition is terminal, absent the remedy of baptism, or the desire for it.

            "Of course God in her wisdom might take your struggle into account. But that's all a bit more complicated than the alternative. I guess there is also the cynical view that once you know you have to give up some of the more enjoyable sins whereas if you don't know you can keep doing them and go straight to heaven. It seems a bit unfair like the parable of the prodigal son which I must admit was always tricky for me as a kid."

            >> God addresses the question of fairness several times in Scripture; I like this passage (Ezekiel 18):

            20.The soul that sinneth, the same shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son: the justice of the just shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

            21.But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die.

            22.I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done: in his justice which he hath wrought, he shall live.

            23.Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not that he should be converted from his ways, and live?

            24.But if the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity according to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? all his justices which he hath done, shall not be remembered: in the prevarication, by which he hath prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them he shall die.

            25.And you have said: The way of the Lord is not right. Hear ye, therefore, O house of Israel: Is it my way that is not right, and are not rather your ways perverse?

            26.For when the just turneth himself away from his justice, and committeth iniquity, he shall die therein: in the injustice that he hath wrought he shall die.

            27.And when the wicked turneth himself away from his wickedness, which he hath wrought, and doeth judgment, and justice: he shall save his soul alive.

            28.Because he considereth and turneth away himself from all his iniquities which he hath wrought, he shall surely live, and not die.

            29.And the children of Israel say: The way of the Lord is not right. Are not my ways right, O house of Israel, and are not rather your ways perverse?

            30.Therefore will I judge every man according to his ways, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God. Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities: and iniquity shall not be your ruin.

            31.Cast away from you all your transgressions, by which you have transgressed, and make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit: and why will you die, O house of Israel?

            32.For I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God, return ye and live.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            I've always had problems with this, admittedly. I always thought missionaries were going about it all wrong when they taught people about Christ, because now those people had no excuses and would be held culpable blah blah blah.

            But that's a backwards way of looking at it. We are not Catholic because we don't want to go to Hell. We don't want others to be Catholic so they have to "play by the rules".

            We see Catholicism as a beautiful union with God. It's not the avoidance of Hell that should be primary, or even secondary to the Christian life.

            The primary goal of the Christian life is to be happy with Him in the next life. The secondary goal is to know, love and serve Him in this world.

            At best, avoiding Hell is a distant third.

            We tell people about Christ because Christ is awesome, and the Eucharist is amazing, and it's Beautiful and Good.

            We don't (or maybe shouldn't) tell people about Christ so they "act like good people" or "become scared of hell".

          • Roger Hane

            The priest's reply would seem to be contradicted by John 14:6.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            I cringe every time I hear atheists advocating ignorance as an acceptable state in life. Bonhoeffer was right; ignoring choice IS making a choice.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            Deacon Harbey Santiago"

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            Mark:

            Not to worry.

            Invincible ignorance does not remit original sin.

            It merely excuses one from the personal culpability of having willfully rejected its remedy.

            It is true the Eskimo will be better off in eternity than will the apostate, but neither will enjoy the Beatific vision, and that's the ballgame.

        • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

          Michael, it seems you fail to understand what the Church means when she says "know." She's not saying "anyone who heard the word 'Catholic Church' must become Catholic or facing damnation." She's saying, "Anyone who is aware that the Catholic Church is God's instrument of salvation, or anyone that *should* be aware but isn't because of intentional ignorance, will be in a spiritually dangerous situation, which may lead to eternal separation from God."

      • Michael Murray

        I wander if they can truly say they have ever become aware of what the Catholic Church is? Blessed Fulton Sheen once said that in the US there are only about 100 people who hate the Church, the rest hate the idea they have of the Church. Big difference there.

        Nice use of the "no true scotsman" fallacy:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

        • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

          It's not a No True Scotsman if he's defined his terms the same way throughout the argument. Which, as far as I know, he has.

        • Dcn Harbey Santiago

          Hmmm I'm not sure if a) you know what this fallacy is, or b) I was not clear enough. I'll have to think about it.

          Either way, next time kindly provide the whole quote for context, not the parts which shore up your argument.

          "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
          Deacon Harbey Santiago

      • Waldo

        Geeze all you have to do is join the Catholic Church to be saved. What a crock. So Jews, Baptists, Bhuddists, Muslims, etc who don't join the Catholic church won't be saved, just like Athiests and Agnostics.
        Give me a break. So nothing has really changed. The Catholics think their church is the only correct one. The Jews think theirs is. The Protestents think theirs is. Muslims know theirs is.
        Religion is a complete waste of time. Full of hatred and the old "my religion is better than yours is...nyaa nyaa nyaa!"

        • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

          Waldo, I haven't seen you comment here before, but please read our Commenting Policy. Our goal is to maintain charitable dialogue and your mocking comment violates several of our rules. If you can't post with a more respectful tone we'll have to moderate your future comments.

          You say, "Geeze all you have to do is join the Catholic Church to be saved." That's not what the Catholic Church teaches. In fact, this is a belief the Catholic Church has officially and definitively condemned. It's popularly known as Feeneyism:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feeneyism

          I'd encourage you to study more about what the Catholic Church actually teaches before denouncing her.

          • http://dpreviewsucks.blogspot.com/ The whole truth

            "her"? So the catholic cult is a "her" and god is a 'him', eh?"

            "I'd encourage you to study more about what the Catholic Church actually teaches before denouncing her."

            Does 'she' (the cc) teach child rape and how to get away with it by lying and moving pedophiles to other catholic cult churches so that catholic cult pedophiles can continue to rape children without legal and moral ramifications?

            "If you can't post with a more respectful tone we'll have to moderate your future comments."

            Yeah, don't let anyone speak the truth about religion, and especially the catholic cult. After all, you wouldn't want to let anyone hurt the feelings of god zombie pedophiles.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      First of all, please provide the direct quote where Fr. Thomas Rosica said this." I'm specifically interested in the phrase "know about the Catholic Church."

      Second, that statement is completely true if we understand the phrase--"to know about the Catholic Church"--to mean "know that the Catholic Church is God's preferred means of salvation for the world."

      • Mark Hunter
        • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

          Mark, I was looking for a direct quote from Fr. Thomas Rosica himself, not a news paraphrase. And as I mentioned before, the key phrase I'd like to see directly quoted is "know the Catholic Church."

          In your original comment, you quotes a Patheos article which paraphrased Fr. Rosica referencing "people who know about the Catholic church."

          Yet now in the CNN article you linked, they paraphrase him referring to "people who [are] aware of the Catholic church."

          The two conflict, and neither is a direct quote. Until you can provide a direct quote and we can determine what Fr. Rosica actually said, there's no point in discussing his words.

          (PS. I'm actually friends with Fr. Rosica, both online and in person, and I strongly doubt he would suggest anything contrary than what the Church officially teaches about the possibility of salvation for non-Catholics.)

  • Roger Hane

    I thought Brandon did a very good job of making the the fine distinction between redemption and salvation. We'll have to assume that his explanation is the same one that Pope Francis meant. The difference between works and beliefs is an important one. Jesus makes the distinction in another place in Scripture, in Matthew 7:21-23. It may seem that he is contradicting what he said in Mark 9:38-40, but maybe not. He may be saying the same thing, but from a different direction. I'd like to read people's opinions on the apparent differences in meaning between these two passages.

    • Waldo

      Personally to me the scriptures are no proof of anything. Every version of the bible uses different and often competing versions of the scriptures, depending on the current knowledge of science and the current moral values that prevailed when each particular bible was written.
      Yes slavery is OK, no slavery is not. Yes you can stone your kids if they disobey you. No you can't. The next version of the bible in a hundred years or so, may well no longer be anti-gay. Either the bibles are all man-made, or god changes his mind a lot.

  • http://bywayofbeauty.com/ Matthew Becklo

    I think it's important to reiterate how theologians have differed on this subject. At one extreme, you have the universal reconciliation of Origen, who believes that all will be saved - on the other, you have the "massa damnata" of Augustine, who thought the vast majority of humanity would be damned. (A recent theological "scuffle" broke out between Father Robert Barron and Ralph Martin, who somewhat lean in those respective directions without going to the extreme.)

    Pope Francis' statement seems to take a middle way, consistent with what his predecessor said on the issue, and with Catholic dogma; people are wrong to assert that the Church has "lightened up" on hell in recent centuries. Simply put, the Church doesn't declare anyone to be in hell definitively, or pontificate on whether certain groups or individuals are saved, or why or how. It's always foolish to play God - and only he sees hearts and minds.

    So Brandon is right that the redemption of atheists doesn't guarantee the salvation for atheists - but neither is it unfathomable. (And merely being Catholic and going through the motions is no guarantee of anything.) At the same time, it affirms that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he gave us his Church as the means for salvation. "We are bound by the sacraments - God is not." That seems contradictory, but is really just a sense of humility that keeps us from being either condemnatory or complacent.

    • Meta-N

      I believe I can speak for all atheists/naturalist/humanists when I tell you that we don't care about your theology of who will be saved. We don't believe in the afterlife. What we we do care about (for example) is the hateful shun the apostate message of Catholic apologetics.

      This is the issue I raised in my very first post. On WETN radio a Catholic caller (the day before my first post) was told that her relative had committed the mortal sin off converting to her husbands Lutheran faith (the sin of apostasy). The issue at hand was whether or not to attend an important family function. The clear and equivocal answer from the Caltholic apologist was the whole Catholic side of the family should not attend the event. It was also made very clear that if the relative was born Lutheran, then attending the even would be OK.

      This is just one example of why the morality of your faith is bankrupt.

      Cheers!

      • Betty Druzky

        Not attending an apostate's event does sound logical to me - if one is a believing Catholic, which you aren't obviously, so of course it makes no sense to you.

        • Meta-N

          So you would shun your own sister? Your mother? Your child's wedding? This makes sense to you?

          Can't we all be better than that? Isn't it better to let fate (or in you case God) be the judge on matters of faith?

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            If my sister were being inducted into the Westboro Baptist Church or the Church of Scientology, I certainly would not attend the ceremony!

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            Words of Our Saviour, Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 10:

            Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. [35]For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

            And a man' s enemies shall be they of his own household. [37] He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. [38] And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me. [39] He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me, shall find it.[40] He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.

          • Betty Druzky

            Well, one can politely and lovingly express disagreement even with loved ones on certain specific topics - just as one might choose to manifest disagreement with a loved one's alcoholism or drug abuse while remaining loving and supportive in other ways. It's not that hard to understand, it seems to me.

      • http://bywayofbeauty.com/ Matthew Becklo

        Hey Meta-N - Thanks for the reply. I've really enjoyed your comments thus far on SN, but to be perfectly honest I don't find this one very thoughtful or compelling. I take it as axiomatic that atheists don't believe in the afterlife (is there nothing left to say to each other?) and that Catholics can sometimes be very sinful or hateful people. Beyond agreeing wholeheartedly with those two facts I'm not sure how I could respond, except to say that the morality of the faith and the morality of the faithful are not the same thing - sometimes even the opposite thing. People, even Popes (who are not exempt from moral error), must make their own choices, and often they choose wrongly. (See all of recorded history for examples of this.) Peace!

        • Meta-N

          Matt - That's all fine and good that individuals can make mistakes. The problem here is EWTN is the official voice of the Catholic church (correct me if I'm wrong). The example I posted (you could track it down and listen one day before my 1st post) is a pattern of what I consider hateful and hurtful messages. Messages from skilled knowledgeable apologists like yourself.

          I strongly recommend that apologist like yourself look inward at the face your presenting to the public and your own flock. I can tell you it looks very ugly from us outsiders looking in.

          I would also like to note that your new Pope Francis is the best apologist yet. His latest message was welcomed around the world by all people of all faiths. I highly doubt he was think that his flock should immediately turn around and tell all of us that we're going to hell. I tried to make this point in my first post to this thread.

          As I stated already, I'm an old-school, I grew up reading Steven J. Gould. A biologist who (unlike Dawkins) brokered a peace between science and the Catholic church.

          Have a nice weekend!

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Meta-N,

            I don't know how to link to other messages in the thread, but see my message above in which I explain that EWTN is not the official voice of the Catholic Church. I would assume that EWTN has a lot of defenders among apologist types on this site, but many Catholics find it extraordinarily unreliable and even reprehensible.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            David I don't know if there is an easier way, but there is a link at the top of each comment, that says how long ago it was placed, that holds the comment index. If you copy that link URL you can then make that into a link in your current post going back. For example, your post above has an index at the end of its URL of ".../atheists-redeemed/#comment-907313520" so I can put that full URL into this link that will always go back to your comment, even if someone puts something else in the thread between our comments..

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Thanks! It works!

          • Meta-N

            Dave - Yes, I can't figure out the links either. I'm using Disqus to find all of the replies. At first I thought it was Betty that started a new thread in her reply to me, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I keep thinking someone double posted the same thing twice, but that hypothesis doesn't seem to hold either. Maybe Brandon will see this conversation. I'm guessing he might be able to shed some light on the thread issue. Arghh, it's starting to feel like reddit. I still remember the old days, posting on Usnet in the early 90s (before www). As much as things change, it (internet) still feels much the same.

            Please see my latest post to Brandon. Hope you like it.

            Have a nice 2013 Memorial Day Weekend!

          • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

            "The problem here is EWTN is the official voice of the Catholic church (correct me if I'm wrong)."

            That is wrong.

          • Meta-N

            Brandon - Thank you for the correction. I also think my post was a bit unfair to Matt when my frustration was more about your post.
            As an old-school atheist who grew up during the dark days of the cold war, the thing is, the Pope was always looked up to as leader of good against the forces of darkness. A leader of high respect for believers of all faith or no faith at all. A leader who's homilies & speeches regularly made the front page news. So a Reddit front page to me is no big deal.

            You know what is big deal? Yup, it's Pope Francis. A new leader determined to form an allegiance of the forces of good once again. I give you an example head line over at the Catholic register "Jews world wide see an ally in Pope Francis".

            Then you come along with this awful pious (but technically 100% accurate doctrine) article that I would summarize as "What the Pope is really trying to say is your all going to hell". In my rage, all I could think is this is the worst piece of apologetics you could possible post on a blog designed to foster a dialog with atheists. Exactly the opposite of the message Pope Francis was trying to get across. If the Pope was your boss, I think he would fire you for this offensive take on his recent remarks.

            Now, regarding your threats of of hell. To the Humanists of this world, our reality is far darker and sobering than any threats of hell you could lob at us. You see, nobody but the most vain selfish person has any concern for their own fate. The sobering aspect of Humanist belief is "The consequences of our actions are permanent". None of my errors can or ever will be corrected in the afterlife. Sobering when you think about it. A code we should all live by regardless of our belief in the afterlife.

            Have a nice weekend!

          • http://bywayofbeauty.com/ Matthew Becklo

            Meta-N - I agree, Pope Francis is a sterling example of what the face and voice of the Church should be. (Check out his fantastic dialogues with an Argentinian Rabbi "Oh Heaven and Earth.") I also admire Gould for his "non-overlapping magisteria," which does at least foster some mutual respect between the realms of science and faith.

            But back to the issue at hand, I'm very surprised that this sort of advice was given on EWTN, and would reiterate that I hear things all the time from Catholics (sometimes in very notable or visible places) that are not only an an affront to the conscience, but also to the intellect. Sometimes, when a lapsed Catholic or atheist recounts what their Catholic parents, priests, and politicians taught them as Gospel truth, my jaw hits the floor. Such a miserable shadow of "Catholic" to be stuck with for a lifetime! Those who would represent the Church as a grumpy, loveless, anal-retentive "club" do grave injustice to those curious or unsure about its inner world. (An example: Pope Francis as Cardinal chastised Argentinean priests for refusing to baptize the children of unwed mothers, growling, "these are today's hypocrites." I wonder how he would respond?) We do have our non-negotiables - but refusing to eat with family who have gravely sinned is most definitely not one of them. The Church is very big and very old, and its members have made and will continue to make all manner of misjudgments. This is why there is the Magisterium and Catechism (the official voice) to trump every unofficial voice (one sixth of the world's population). The tragedy is that so many will never get past the hateful or stupid comments of a few Catholic leaders or neighbors to discover the great wisdom and love that inheres in the Church.

            And thanks, you too!

      • Mark Hunter

        I don't agree that this is the Catholic Church's position. But Catholic members of my family have shunned me after I (quietly) left the Catholic faith. Some have come round, but not all. Luke 12:53 is unfortunately true.

      • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

        A Catholic who converts to Lutheranism is not an "apostate." An apostate is someone who has been a Christian and completely rejects the Christian faith. I suppose if a person rejects one or more Catholic dogmas and for that reason joins another Christian denomination, one could call the person a heretic. Exactly why anyone nowadays would want to go around declaring people apostates and heretics, I find difficult to understand.

        If you believe someone is making a major life error, such as marrying a scoundrel, joining the wrong religion, entering into a life of crime, or becoming a Republican, the fact that the person is a close relative or friend may not be sufficient reason to give your blessing to that person's choice. You want to give those you love the benefit of the doubt and treat them like autonomous adults capable of deciding what's best for themselves, but there's a limit. If I had been the brother of the Unabomber, I certainly hope I would have tipped off the authorities about him.

        I think when a family member or other loved one converts to another religion, it may be a very complex situation, and I don't think a radio-call-in host has any business giving simple answers to complex situations.

        • Andre Boillot

          "or becoming a Republican"

          Ha!

        • Meta-N

          Dave, Thank you for the feedback. You are correct, heresy/heretic is the correct term. My mistake. However, both are motal sins. Nor does it change the substance of my post.

      • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

        I believe EWTN Radio Network is the official voice of the Catholic church.

        It isn't! Not even close! Wikipedia tells us the following:

        The network has occasionally been the subject of criticism for its social, political, and theological positions. In 2000, the Holy See ordered an apostolic visitation to investigate the network. Believing that it could possibly endanger the network's independence and rather than risk it being placed under ecclesiastical control, Mother Angelica turned EWTN over to a board of governors composed exclusively of lay people, which assured its independence from the Holy See.

        Apparently EWTN believed the pope wasn't Catholic enough, so it maneuvered to keep its independence. :P

      • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

        As for heresy and apostasy being "mortal sins," that is debatable. First of all, it is never acceptable to claim that someone has committed a mortal sin, because no human being can read another human being's heart to the extent possible to know such a thing. The most that can be said is that a person who commits a certain act that is classified as a mortal sin has objectively committed that act. According to the Catechism:

        1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."

        No doubt there will be disagreement on what constitutes "full knowledge" and "deliberate consent," but I would say that, to take as an example a Catholic who converts to Lutheranism, if that person truly believes he or she has detected an error in Catholicism that motivates the conversion, almost certainly does not have "full knowledge" and give "deliberate consent." Aquinas said that one must hold to one's conscience even if it means excommunication. A Catholic who is fully convinced he or she is doing the right thing by converting to Lutheranism—having given it sufficient thought, sought sufficient counsel, and made the decision prayerfully and in all humility—would be making a mistake from the Catholic point of view, but he or she would not subjectively be committing a mortal sin.

        It is never a mortal sin for a person to do what he or she—upon sufficient reflection—firmly, honestly, and sincerely believes to be right.

  • Micky

    One question, a Person who does only good in his life but is not catholic...therefore belongs to another faith. Is he saved?

    • Dcn Harbey Santiago

      This COULD be be saved. Catholics do not pass judgement on your eternal destiny while you are alive. Unlike Protestants Catholics believe that salvation is an on going process.

      "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
      Deacon Harbey Santiago

      • Ignorant Amos

        Someone needs to get Mel Gibson up to speed on this issue.

        "Mel Gibson has come under fire for being hard on Jews in his film “The Passion of the Christ” — but apparently, he feels that Protestants are also doomed to damnation. In fact, it looks like Gibson, a conservative Catholic, believes that his Episcopalian wife could be going to hell".

        "Gibson was interviewed by the Herald Sun in Australia, and the reporter asked the star if Protestants are denied eternal salvation. “There is no salvation for those outside the Church,” Gibson replied. “I believe it.”

        Perhaps Gibson is just out of touch, like many of his faith.

        • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

          There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

          This is a defined, heaven-protected, and irreformable dogma.

          If you imagine the Pope has somehow stated something different than this, then you would need to be very careful to parse his words, since His Holiness is a very highly trained theologian.

          For example, here the Pope uses the word "redeemed".

          He does not use the word "justified".

          If any Pope were to say, ever, that atheists are "justified"....well.

          That is about as probable as the day the scientists provide us with a set of algorithms that can discover a new physical principle of nature.

          In other words, probability zero :-)

          • Ignorant Amos

            I have no views on interpretation of what the pope implied or didn't...my observation was the contradiction between what the Deacon said in his comment...

            "Catholics do not pass judgement on your eternal destiny while you are alive."

            And what conservative Catholic and sectarian bigot, Mel Gibson said during that interview.

            "There is no salvation for those outside the Church,” Gibson replied. “I believe it.”

            He is clearly passing judgement on the eternal destiny of someone, in this case, his wife.

            He elaborated: “Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She’s a much better person than I am. Honestly. She’s, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it’s just not fair if she doesn’t make it, she’s better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.”

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            I see nothing in Mel's comments that requires us to believe he means that his wife cannot escape eternal damnation if, before death, she recants her adherence to a schismatic heresy and accepts reconciliation with the catholic Church.

            Mel Gibson is correct.

            Absent such a reconciliation, or some special intervention by God, unknowable to us, his wife cannot be saved, since she has freely chosen to reject the Catholic Faith and to adhere instead to a schismatic, false religion.

            The following is de fide definita, an infallible definition of the Faith, irreformable until the end of the world:

            “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            The following is de fide definita, an infallible definition of the Faith, irreformable until the end of the world . . . .

            That is not an infallible pronouncement. It sounds a lot like what Father Feeney was excommunicated for teaching.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            It is indeed an important insight into the disastrous state of the Church, when de fide definitions are scorned as heresy.

            Perhaps you are ignorant of the meaning of "de fide definita".

            I hope this was the case when you typed the above.

            You are not ignorant now:

            Lumen Gentium #25

            "And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith,(166) by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals.(42*) And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith."

            Three ex cathedra definitions of the dogma "no salvation outside the Catholic Church":

            "The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire 'which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her... No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441

            "There is one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved._ Pope Innocent III, ex cathedra, (Fourth Lateran Council, 1215).

            "We declare, say , define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." Pope Boniface VIII, (Unam Sanctam, 1302).

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            I think it is very difficult to argue that these kinds of statements are infallible. A dogma must first of all be divinely revealed. A statement by a pope is not true and infallible because the pope says so. What the pope says must be a matter of divine revelation, which the pope confirms as having been divinely revealed. That it is necessary for salvation to be "subject to the Roman Pontiff" scarcely sounds like a divinely revealed truth. The bar is very high for a papal statement to be considered infallible. Not everything the pope writes in a bull or an encyclical is "ex cathedra." Richard R. Gaillardetz in By What Authority? A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful says the following:

            Actual exercises of papal infallibility have been relatively rare in the history of the Church. Though lists of papal definitions differ somewhat (before the modern age, popes, like councils, did not explicitly announce when they were exercising the charism of infallibility, therefore, determining instances of the exercise of papal infallibility requires careful historical research), one scholar, Francis Sullivan, lists five instances in which popes have solemnly defined a dogma, independent of an ecumenical council: (1) Benedict XII's teaching on the beatific vision in Benedictus Deus [1336]; (2) Innocent X's condemnation of five Jansenist propositions in Cum occasions [1653]; (3) Pius VI's condemnation of seven Jansenist propositions articulated at the Synod of Pistoia in Auctorem fidei [1749]; (4) Pius IX's definition of the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus [1854]; (5) Pius XII's definition of the Assumption of Mary in Munificentissimus Deus [1950].

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "I think it is very difficult to argue that these kinds of statements are infallible. "

            >> That might be true.

            It is also irrelevant.

            The Church does not depend upon your assent, in propounding Her dogmas.

            The relevant citation from Lumen Gentium #25 above suffices.

            It is certainly established that:

            1. The Catholic Church has, three times, infallibly proclaimed ("ex cathedra") that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church

            2. You do not believe #1 above.

            Nothing unusual there.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Rick DeLano,

            Is it your position that the following from the Catechism of the Catholic Church is false?

            847 This affirmation [i.e., Outside the Church there is no salvation] is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

            Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            It is not false.

            Neither does it contradict the dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

            1. "through no fault of their own" is a subjective parameter known to God Alone; objectively, it is quite possible that no such persons exist in reality.

            2. "may achieve eternal salvation"- but of course they "may". Perhaps they will be granted a supernatural intervention by God, to join them to the Church in some way that is unknowable to us. Or perhaps they will be baptized before death by an angel, as has happened in the past.

            A possible outcome, consistent with the passage, is that God will determine that the category "those who through no fault of their own" is an empty set.

            The passage in the catechism involves not an iota's worth of change to the dogmatic definitions concerning "nulla salus extra ecclesiam".

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            So are you saying that those in North and South America before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries were possibly not saved because somehow they were held responsible for knowing Christ and his Church? How can someone be held accountable for not knowing Christianity if word of it has not reached the continent they are living on?

            I find it strange to think that those who compiled the Catechism would include a conjecture about a perfectly hypothetical group of people (those who "no fault of their own" do not know of Christ and the Church) that may not even exist. I would think that it is quite evident that there have been people in the past who, through no fault of their own, never heard of Christianity. It seems to me it is very easy to imagine the kind of people the Catechism is referring to. It is perfectly simple to say that those in locations where news of Christianity had not reached did not know about it "through no fault of their own." It doesn't take God to figure out who those people are.

            You say: "Or perhaps they will be baptized before death by an angel, as has happened in the past."

            People have been baptized by angels? This is something I have never heard before. Can you please cite an instance where a person was baptized by an angel? I will go out on a limb here and offer the opinion that an angel, not being baptized itself, cannot baptize a human being. Sacraments are for physical beings, not angels.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "So are you saying that those in North and South America before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries were possibly not saved because somehow they were held responsible for knowing Christ and his Church? How can someone be held accountable for not knowing Christianity if word of it has not reached the continent they are living on?"

            >> It has already been established that no one is held responsible for inculpable ignorance; that is, no one who does not know of Christ and His Church will be held responsible for this lack of knowledge.

            This lack of knowledge does not remit original sin, which is remitted only by baptism, or the desire for it.

            As for the salvation of the Amero-Indians of pre-Columbian times, missionaries visited the Americas long before Columbus; see Barry Fell, "Saga America", Times Book, 1980:

            "Christian relics are widespread in America as the illustrations to this chapter explain. But we also find records of Christian flight to the New World among the inscriptions on the rocks of North Africa. A notable one is the very long text (pages 170-172) engraved by a monk who had actually returned to Morroco from America, leaving his comrades behind in the wilderness; they had fled to escape the attentions of the Vandals in the fifth century of our era. Other texts from Nova Scotia, Connecticut, and places on the west coast of Canada and the United States tell us that small colonies of Christians had come here at various times…The epigraphic evidence of ancient Christians in North America is unimpeachable."

            There are examples of miraculous visitations, such as the case of Venerable Mary of Agreda, who was miraculously transported to preach to the indigenous Americans prior to the arrival of missionaries.

            Once the missionaries arrived, they were informed by the indigenous people that they were expected, as a result of the teaching of the "lady in blue" who had visited them with the message of the Gospel.

            Some may be baptized by interior illumination of an angel ("baptism of desire", which remits original sin, and suffices for salvation should the recipient persevere in Faith, Hope, and Charity, and fail *inculpably* to receive sacramental baptism) or by the miraculous visitation of/to a missionary ( a similar instance is noted in the Introduction to The Catholic Controversy by St. Francis De Sales, Tan Books, 1989, p. lv):

            "A baby, the child of a Protestant mother, had died without Baptism. St. Francis had gone to speak to the mother about Catholic doctrine, and prayed that the child would be restored to life long enough to receive Baptism. His prayer was granted, and the whole family became Catholic."

            Therefore the whole number of the elect will be made up of the whole number of those baptized and persevering in the True Faith.

            ***

            "I find it strange to think that those who compiled the Catechism would include a conjecture about a perfectly hypothetical group of people (those who "no fault of their own" do not know of Christ and the Church) that may not even exist."

            >> This may be true. It is also irrelevant. That you find a thing strange does not render it any more or less true.

            In fact it is impossible for the Catechism or its authors to know the subjective culpability of any of the subjects of the passage.

            Its purpose is to affirm the objective possibility of all to receive salvation by being joined to the Catholic Church, even if in miraculous ways, even ways unknowable to us.
            ****

            "I would think that it is quite evident that there have been people in the past who, through no fault of their own, never heard of Christianity. It seems to me it is very easy to imagine the kind of people the Catechism is referring to. It is perfectly simple to say that those in locations where news of Christianity had not reached did not know about it "through no fault of their own." It doesn't take God to figure out who those people are."

            >> It of course takes God to know not only *who* those people are, but even *if* such people are.

            Indeed, as above, such people have both been visited by missionaries, and visited by angels, and all of them foreknown by God as among His elect were (are) in fact saved.

            *****

            People have been baptized by angels? This is something I have never heard before. Can you please cite an instance where a person was baptized by an angel?

            >> "“Whoever has not set up obstacles against it will receive the light or the call…, either externally by means of men…or by interior illumination by means of angels.” -----Francisco Suarez, De Praedestione et Reprobatione , 1, IV, c. 3, n. 19

            “If he does what is within his power, the Lord will enlighten him with a secret inspiration, by means of an angel or of a man.”------Alexander of Hales, Summa Theologica , III libri, inq. 3, tr. 2, sect. 1, q. 2, tit. 1, c. 8 (n. 325)

            *****

            I will go out on a limb here and offer the opinion that an angel, not being baptized itself, cannot baptize a human being. Sacraments are for physical beings, not angels.

            >> From http://www.opusangelorum.org/English/Fatimaeucharist.html

            "When the Angel appeared to them at the Loca do Cabeço he was "holding a chalice in his hands, with a host above it from which some drops of blood were falling into the Sacred vessel." The Angel left the chalice and host suspended in the air, and prostrated himself upon the ground with the children and prayed the following prayer with them three times:

            Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.

            The Angel then rose, and taking the host he gave it to Lucy, and to Jacinta and Francisco he gave the contents of the chalice, saying as he did so: "Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God." Then he prostrated himself once more with the children and repeated the prayer to the Most Holy Trinity three times, then disappeared."

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            In speaking of the "Elect," are you implying that there are those who are foreordained to be saved and those who are foreordained to be damned? Isn't this just predestination? I think it is universally accepted that God's "foreknowledge" of events doesn't mean they are predetermined. It is, in fact, incorrect to talk about God's "foreknowledge," because God, being outside of time, doesn't know things "before" they happen. "Before" and "after" simply don't apply to God.

            I am afraid that the work by Barry Fell you refer to has been totally discredited. I don't know why you take it seriously. You are perfectly free to believe anything you want about Fatima, but it is a basic principle of Catholicism that even approved apparitions do not add anything new to revelation, which ended with the death of the last apostle.

          • severalspeciesof

            David, you say: "It is, in fact, incorrect to talk about God's "foreknowledge," because
            God, being outside of time, doesn't know things "before" they happen.
            "Before" and "after" simply don't apply to God."

            Then god's plan is pretty much moot. One needs to have *time* in order to plan...

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            It seems odd to me that people pray for things to a deity, when they believe that deity is "outside of time." From an "outside of time" perspective, everything is static, as if having already happened. There is something wrong with praying for change in this picture.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Thomas Aquinas had something to say about this, and quite frankly, I don't understand it much, if at all. But I do understand that he denies prayer "changes God's mind." The popular understanding of payer is that we beg and plead and convince God to do something that, had we not prayed, he would not have done. We say, "Oh, God, I promise if I win $500 million in PowerBall, I will give $100 million to your favorite charities." And then God thinks, "Wow, $100 million to charity. I'm going to let him win PowerBall!" But that is not how it works at all, according to Acquinas.

            How does it work? (Or does it work?) I don't know. But I do think it is foolish of theists to believe they can persuade God to do something he would otherwise not have done. And I think most theologians would probably take that view. It seems to me a great deal of popular piety does fit very well with the idea of God in contemporary theology.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            The concept of time in contemporary physics is so difficult that I would never venture to say what it is, if it actually exists at all. We do seem to know, however, that time (if it exists) is part of our physical universe and came into existence (if it exists) at the big bang. The idea in theology of God being outside of time is a very basic one. Of course, atheists don't believe there is a God, so the question of whether or not God is in or outside of time would apparently be irrelevant. But I think, whether or not one is an atheist, it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to say that God can't plan because planning requires time. If we don't understand time for human beings, I don't think we can say much about time for a being that allegedly lives outside of time and allegedly created time. I have found that when I think too much about time, I begin to know less about it than I did before, and my head begins to hurt. I don't want to say anything much about time and me, let alone time and God. Of course, if you can explain time to me, you are welcome to try. :)

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            D: "The concept of time in contemporary physics is so difficult that I would never venture to say what it is, if it actually exists at all."

            >> If it doesn't exist at all, then neither does physics. Or anything else that we attempt to describe logically.

            I know one very brilliant physicist who happens to agree that time does not exist: Julian Barbour.

            I will never forget George Ellis rising at a conference after Julian's presentation, and, posing a question which Julian answered with a sweep of his arm, essentially closing matters out with the observation:

            ""But I am sorry, Julian, you can't do that. You can't sweep your arm because you say there is no time, and therefore it cannot have moved".

            Poor Julian, God love him, stood sheepedly and said with his customary grace:

            "I admit these are very difficult matters".

            D: "We do seem to know, however, that time (if it exists) is part of our physical universe and came into existence (if it exists) at the big bang."

            >> We do not know whether there ever was a Big Bang- it appears quite likely that whatever process is involved the expansion of the universe from an initial hot, dense state to the present state, we have certainly not managed to reduce it to physics under the rubric "Big Bang".

            Multiple, ad hoc patches and fixes have really served only to magnify the problems, not resolve them.

            The "Big Bang" has all the earmarks of a failed theory.

            It requires us to believe that 99% of the matter and energy of the universe is invisible to us.

            It requires us to believe in inflation, which the Planck2013 data has shown to be exponentially unlikely, since the only inflationary models which survive Planck's observations are ones which themselves require the universe to be smooth in the first place in order to initiate the inflation that was invented to smooth the universe out!

            Therefore, it is not surprising that massive contradictions concerning space and time's inception flow from the same set of assumptions.

            For example, you say space and time must come into existence with a Big Bang, but the Big Bang requires inflation, and if you have a mechanism for one Big Bang then you have a mechanism for many Big Bangs, which leaves us with the problem that space and time *do not* come into existence with any one of these Big Bangs, but before all of them, which leaves us right back where we started, with the Necessary Being, God.

            The physicists could really benefit from a few years of humble recourse to St. Thomas Aquinas.

            Trust me, the day of that humiliation is coming quickly; it is at hand, it will be extremely good for physics to abandon the barking madness of "something from nothing/eternally inflating multiverses", and re-attach themselves to the scientific method itself, which method depends absolutely for its logical foundation upon the prior, excellent foundation of Catholic metaphysics.

          • severalspeciesof

            "The idea in theology of God being outside of time is a very basic one."

            But it is utterly meaningless, at least to me, so it holds no value. I agree that time itself is a tough concept with regard to physics, so it is even tougher to imagine to be 'outside' of time itself. It makes no sense to me. It is only used to get god 'out of jail for free'. Everything we are, is wired within the bounds of time. Every thought, emotion, desire is all strictly made sensible only through our concept of time.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            There are other logical difficulties in David's assertion, which,

            as usual, proceed from a failure to make necessary distinctions.

            David: "In speaking of the "Elect," are you implying that there are those who are foreordained to be saved and those who are foreordained to be damned?"

            >> That would be Calvinism, so called "double predestination" (including predestination to damnation, an heresy formally anathematized by the Catholic Church).

            D: "Isn't this just predestination?"

            First, it is certainly the case that the Catholic Church teaches predestination.

            That is because the Bible teaches predestination, and its denial of predestination necessarily contradicts God's omniscience, which would be a direct heresy against the Faith itself.

            But the Catholic Church also teaches that man's free will is specifically involved in the predestination; that is, as the Catechism puts it:

            "To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination," he includes in it each person's free response to his grace. (CCC#600a)"

            So, the Catholic Church teaches that God certainly has predestinated each of the elect to salvation, and that all of the damned are damned because of their free choice, not because they have been predestined to damnation.
            ****

            Dave: "I think it is universally accepted that God's "foreknowledge" of events doesn't mean they are predetermined."

            >> It most certainly is not universally accepted. In fact it is heretical to hold that any event whatsoever occurs without the complete foreknowledge of God from all eternity

            Dave: "It is, in fact, incorrect to talk about God's "foreknowledge," because God, being outside of time, doesn't know things "before" they happen. "Before" and "after" simply don't apply to God."

            >> Alas, you would employ the concept "outside of time" in such a way as to require us to believe God cannot act inside of time.

            This too would be heretical- more along the lines of a "Blind Watchmaker" hypothesis, but certainly nothing remotely close to Catholic Truth.

            It is obvious that God does act in ways that involve a "before" and an "after"; for example, there was a time when the Son of God did not take unto Himself a human nature in the hypostatic union, and there is a time when the Son of God did take unto Himself a human nature via the hypostatic union.

            I am very glad to know that catholic theology has been done by geniuses and holy men filled with the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

            It is horrifying to imaghine the consequences of such things being left to the kind of "logic" exhibited by you here, Dave..

            As to Barry Fell, he has certainly not been discredit, you have provided no evidence in suypport of this claim, while I have provided the evidence of Barry Fell which, should you choose to challenge it here, will prove vindicated in the relevant, empirical fact that the epigraphy reported by Fell is universally acknowledged to be of the language which Fell reports, and at the location which Fell reports, which confirms, by the way, the whole point.

            Christians were present in the Americas long before Columbus.

            You are certainly free to disbelieve Fatima.

            But so am I free to believe it.

            Therefore there is nothing contrary to the Catholic Faith in my previous affirmation of the employment of angles for the provision of sacramental grave to human beings in extraordinary circumstances.

            Which was to be demonstrated.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            In fact it is heretical to hold that any event whatsoever occurs without the complete foreknowledge of God from all eternity

            Foreknowledge of an event does not make the event happen. If God knows Person A will choose, of his own free will, to do X, and Person B will choose, of his own free will, to do Y, God has not caused Person A or Person B to do X and Y, nor has God caused X and Y to happen.

            It seems to me the idea of "predestination" as you present it is a bit misleading. In my example, Person A does not choose to do X because God knows in advance that X will be Person A's choice. Rather, God knows in advance that Person A is going to choose X, because Person A is going to choose X and do so freely. It may be considered part of God's plan that Person A chooses X only insofar as God granted Person A free will, and Person A used free will.

            I do not except the idea of "the Elect" as people who will be saved no matter what they do, as a distinct group from people who will be saved and damned because they, of their own free will, make the choices that save or damn them. No one is saved against his or her will, and no one is damned against his or her will. The Elect are those who will be saved (and whom God knows will be saved) because they freely make the choices that lead to salvation, not because they have been foreordained to be in a special category of those who will be saved.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            One further thought . . . If you claim that, in order to save people not in the Church, God has ways that we don't know about of bringing them into the Church, then you are basically rendering "outside the Church there is no salvation" a meaningless statement. God might offer every person who never heard of Christianity an opportunity to join the Church, or be baptized by an angel, at the moment of death. Alternatively, God might determine that rather than being a null set, "those who through no fault of their own" might be the set of all human beings who have ever lived, since fully understanding Christ and the Church is beyond mere human comprehension.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "One further thought . . . If you claim that, in order to save people not in the Church, God has ways that we don't know about of bringing them into the Church, then you are basically rendering "outside the Church there is no salvation" a meaningless statement. "

            >> This does not follow in any way at all. God *can* intervene in ways we do not know; that is, His omnipotence is not limited in any way.

            On the other hand, God has bound, in heaven, that no one will be saved outside the Catholic Church.

            That is a defined, irreformable, heaven-protected dogma and it will stand until the end of the world.

            Therefore any person saved will be saved precisely by being joined to the Catholic Church before death, through baptism or the desire for it.

            I would say that is quite a meaningful statement.
            ****
            "God might offer every person who never heard of Christianity an opportunity to join the Church, or be baptized by an angel, at the moment of death."

            >> It is certainly possible.

            If one of the Elect, foreknown by God from all eternity, should require some extraordinary intervention, that person shall certainly have it.

            Obviously, the elect are going to heaven, and the damned are going to Hell, and God has foreseen which is which in the case of every single human being from all eternity.

            All of the elect will be joined to the catholic Church before death.

            All of the damned will die outside of the Catholic Church.

            ****

            "Alternatively, God might determine that rather than being a null set, "those who through no fault of their own" might be the set of all human beings who have ever lived, since fully understanding Christ and the Church is beyond mere human comprehension."

            >> "Fully" understanding the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is beyond mere human comprehension, so it is safe to say your last sentence above is true.

            But we can *fully* understand those things Christ has chosen to reveal to us through the infallible teaching magisterium of His Mystical Body on Earth.

            Here is one of those things which we can *fully* understand:

            “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)

          • Ignorant Amos

            "I see nothing in Mel's comments that requires us to believe he means that his wife cannot escape eternal damnation if, before death, she recants her adherence to a schismatic heresy and accepts reconciliation with the catholic Church."

            I never said there was anything in his comments that suggest such a thing, only that his comment contradicts what the Deacon espoused in his comment...here it is again..."Catholics do not pass judgement on your eternal destiny while you are alive."

            Clearly Gibson, a Catholic, is passing judgement in the article. Given that the chances of Gibson's wife will recant her so-called heresy, she is doomed to eternal damnation. Like many, she also believes that she has the true faith and it is you and Gibson who will be doomed to eternal damnation.

            This all strikes me as rather odd. If he loves her and she loves him, so much so, paradise isn't going to be as happy a place for eternity with neither of them being with each other as it otherwise might be. I guess the love of the true faith is much more important than the love for a fellow human being if one is a member of the faithful.

            This "bible fan fiction" as it is called, reminds me of the made up nonsense that is Limbo. It doesn't strike me as the message your god in Christ was really portraying. Now, the theologically minded ill state that such things as Limbo, and the stealing from the poor that was indulgences, are old hat Catholicism, but that is of little consolation to the untold amount of suffering and torment these archaic ideas have caused...and in some parts still do.

            "Mel Gibson is correct"

            Says who?

            "Absent such a reconciliation, or some special intervention by God, unknowable to us, his wife cannot be saved, since she has freely chosen to reject the Catholic Faith and to adhere instead to a schismatic, false religion."

            Can't you see the oxymoron in that comment? If it is unknown to "us", and I take "us" to mean the mere mortals here on Earth, how do you, or anyone know that it is not open house for all on the day of reckoning. If we don't know, we don't know what the plan entails...end of story. Everything else is assertion, conjecture and pure speculation.

            "The following is de fide definita, an infallible definition of the Faith, irreformable until the end of the world:"

            Of course it is....until popular opposition by the religious within the religion makes it obsolete, moot or evolve, or that the faith as it is, dies away. History is littered with examples of the same.. You don't even have to look outside Catholicism for examples.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "Clearly Gibson, a Catholic, is passing judgement in the article."

            >> No. Gobson is allowing God to pass judgement, through His infallible teaching instrument on Earth, the Holy Catholic Church, exercising Her God-given charism of infallibility.

            God has judged, by allowing the infallible dogmatic definition of the truth of Faith, through three separate ex cathedra definitions:

            There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

            Gibson merely assents to the judgement.

            "Given that the chances of Gibson's wife will recant her so-called heresy, she is doomed to eternal damnation"

            >> Yes. Absent repentance, or some supernatural intervention unknowable to us, she is doomed.

            No question whatsoever.

            "Like many, she also believes that she has the true faith and it is you and Gibson who will be doomed to eternal damnation."

            >> The difference is, her opinion is in contradiction to the infallible ex cathedra definitions of the catholic Faith, which are directly from heaven, and cannot be in error in any question concerning faith or morals.

            In other words, the difference is that she is wrong, and Mel is right.

            The consequences are profound.

            "This all strikes me as rather odd. If he loves her and she loves him, so much so, paradise isn't going to be as happy a place for eternity with neither of them being with each other as it otherwise might be."

            >> One can be absolutely assured that if Mel's eternal happiness requires the presence of his wife, then she will be there.

            On the other hand, it is certain that Mel's eternal happiness does not depend upon the presence of his wife, but instead upon the enjoyment the Beatific vision.

            It is a great mystery, accessible only to Faith.

            Reason collapses in complete inadequacy in the face of the Beatific vision.

            Faith tells us that the only true happiness consists in the Beatific vision- all our happiness on Earth consists in mere hints, mere slivers of hints, of what that vision shall be.

            "I guess the love of the true faith is much more important than the love for a fellow human being if one is a member of the faithful."

            >> The love of God is far more important than anything in time or eternity.

            That is basic to the Faith.

            "This "bible fan fiction" as it is called, reminds me of the made up nonsense that is Limbo. It doesn't strike me as the message your god in Christ was really portraying. Now, the theologically minded ill state that such things as Limbo, and the stealing from the poor that was indulgences, are old hat Catholicism, but that is of little consolation to the untold amount of suffering and torment these archaic ideas have caused...and in some parts still do."

            >> It is unsurprising that you do not accept the Catholic theological supposition of limbo.

            But that is because you clearly are having a very hard time with the foundational truths which Christ came to teach.

            Don't feel like the Lone Ranger in this regard:

            "[37] He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.

            It is one of those "hard sayings".

            "Mel Gibson is correct"

            "The following is de fide definita, an infallible definition of the Faith, irreformable until the end of the world:"

            Of course it is....until popular opposition by the religious within the religion makes it obsolete, moot or evolve, or that the faith as it is, dies away. History is littered with examples of the same.. You don't even have to look outside Catholicism for examples.

            It will stand until the end of the world. All expectations, hopes, dreams, efforts, prayers, pressures, inducements, threats, attacks, persecutions will fail.

            The Catholic Church's dogmas are protected by heaven and will stand until the end of the world.

            As they have stood thus far.

          • Ignorant Amos

            >> No. Gibson is allowing God to pass judgement, through His infallible teaching instrument on Earth, the Holy Catholic Church, exercising Her God-given charism of infallibility.

            But that is not what Gibson said is it? As for infallibility, that's a joke and you know it. If the church was infallible, how come it has changed it has flip-flopped dogma over the centuries and stuff that was, isn't so much now?

            >>God has judged, by allowing the infallible dogmatic definition of the truth of Faith, through three separate ex cathedra definitions:

            Who says?

            >>There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

            >>Gibson merely assents to the judgement.

            It may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but your saviour, if he existed, was a Jew. Paul was a Jew. The disciples were all Jews. All the first members of the Christian sect were Jews. Those that weren't were not Catholics. Catholicism did make the statute books for 3 centuries. Now you can claim the convenient caveat that those unaware of Catholicism get a pass...but really...a bit convenient I'd say, and who declared this nonsense first?

            >> Yes. Absent repentance, or some supernatural intervention unknowable to us, she is doomed.

            >>No question whatsoever.

            No question whatsoever? Really? Who says? How do you know this? Why do you declare it as a fact?

            >> The difference is, her opinion is in contradiction to the infallible ex cathedra definitions of the Catholic Faith, which are directly from heaven, and cannot be in error in any question concerning faith or morals.

            No, and given your logic. Catholicism is a contradiction to many earlier versions of Christianity, including the one preached by Jesus...according to scripture that is. How do you know the definitions are infallible ex-cathedra direct from heaven? You don't. You can't possibly. You can surmise. You can believe. You can't know.

            >>In other words, the difference is that she is wrong, and Mel is right.

            In your without evidence opinion.

            >>The consequences are profound.

            More conjecture without evidence. You, as a member of the Catholic faith are entitled to your opinion, just not your own or your faiths made up facts.

            Here is what two early church fathers said before there was a Roman Catholic church...it might sound a bit familiar...

            "Outside the Church nobody will be saved. (Extra ecclesiam nemo salvatur)" (Origen, In Jesu Nave hom. 3,5)

            "Outside the Church there is no salvation." (Salus extra ecclesiam non est)" (Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 73, To Iubaianus, n.21, Migne: Patrologiae Cursus completus. Series prima Latina, Parisiis; 1844)

            That the Roman cult appropriated their words and twisted their meanings to require membership in the RCC as a prerequisite for salvation should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the Magisterium's peculiar and self-serving theology. Your church is not thee church. It isn't even the first church, whether you think it is or not. It is but one of the 38,000+ flavours of Christianity, all of which firmly believe they have the "true faith". This begs a huge question.

            >> One can be absolutely assured that if Mel's eternal happiness requires the presence of his wife, then she will be there.

            Only if Catholicism is the "true faith" otherwise he will be damned. If Catholicism is the "true faith" then according to your own doctrine, she will be damned if she won't recant., something no one can know will happen and according to Gibson, is very unlikely, becouse she firmly believes she has the "true faith" so why would she.

            This places you in a bit of a quandary. You want to have your cake and eat it too.

            >>On the other hand, it is certain that Mel's eternal happiness does not depend upon the presence of his wife, but instead upon the enjoyment the Beatific vision.

            How do you know this? You can't. But anyway, in the here and now it is academic. I really don't care for the nonsense myself, but there are those of the faith that this predicament for which this is causing great consternation.

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wdpcx

            >>It is a great mystery, accessible only to Faith.

            It's semantic. Unless you are suggesting Gibson will be duped into believing his with is with him...surely not?

            >>Reason collapses in complete inadequacy in the face of the Beatific vision.

            Yep, religion is nothing if it is unreasonable. Especially when stuff is just made up at will.

            Faith tells us that the only true happiness consists in the Beatific vision- all our happiness on Earth consists in mere hints, mere slivers of hints, of what that vision shall be.

            Not even...especially for most believers.

            >> The love of God is far more important than anything in time or eternity.

            >>That is basic to the Faith.

            So what is with all the theodicy then?

            >> It is unsurprising that you do not accept the Catholic theological doctrine, which is only *proximate* to the Faith, of limbo.

            More semantics on a subject that causes real pain and suffering to many and which is totally unnecessary.

            >But that is because you clearly are having a very hard time with the foundational truths which Christ came to teach.

            Well there are all sorts of assumptions being made in that statement. First, there is no evidence that Jesus was a real person. Then there are all sorts of issues about what has been written about the figure. A lot of Catholic doctrine is not "foundational truth" that came from the alleged teacher doesn't seem to bother adherents either seems lost too.

            >>Don't feel like the Lone Ranger in this regard:

            I don't because I'm not and far from it. Thanks for the concern all the same though.

            >>"[37] He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.

            >>It is one of those "hard sayings".

            Not when taken in context of being made by an apocalyptic preacher it isn't. But given that the end times didn't materialize, it is now.

            >Of course it is....until popular opposition by the religious within the religion makes it obsolete, moot or evolve, or that the faith as it is, dies away. History is littered with examples of the same.. You don't even have to look outside Catholicism for examples.

            >>It will stand until the end of the world. All expectations, hopes, dreams, efforts, prayers, pressures, inducements, threats, attacks, persecutions based on the idea that it can be reformed in any way whatsoever are doomed to certain failure.

            >>The Catholic Church's dogmas are protected by heaven and will stand until the end of the world.

            >>As they have stood thus far.

            This is just erroneous. There is a plethora of doctrinal changes.

            Marriage to non-Catholics was invalid until 1818 AD:

            "Under the old canon law, such a Marriage (between a baptized Protestant and an infidel or unbaptized Protestant) was invalid, because of the impediment of disparity of worship. Under the new canon law - i.e., since May 19, 1818 - this impediment has been abolished so far as non-Catholics are concerned, and such a marriage would be valid.

            No Pope was considered infallible until 1870 AD

            Pope Adrian VI - It is certain that the Pontiff ... may err in those things which pertain to faith.

            Pope Paul IV - I do not doubt that I and my predecessors may sometimes have erred.

            Archbishop Purcell said in his debate with Alexander Campbell in Cincinnati on 1-13-1837: "the bishop of Rome, though he was not believed to be infallible. Neither is he now. No enlightened Catholic holds the pope's infallibility to be an article of faith. I do not; and none of my brethren, that I know of, do. The Catholic believes the pope ... to be as liable to error, as almost any other man in the universe. Man is man, and no man is infallible, either in doctrine or morals."

            Catachism changed after 1870 AD:

            "A Doctrinal Catechism," by Keenan, bearing the Imprimatur (official sanction) of Scotch Roman Catholic bishops, pre 1870: Must not Catholics believe the pope himself to be infallible? This is a Protestant invention; it is no article of the Catholic faith; no decision of his can oblige, under pain of heresy, unless it is received and enforced by the teaching body, that is, the bishops of the church. After 1870, this Q&A was dropped from Keenan's catechism.

            "If only one instance could be given in which the Church ceased to teach a doctrine of faith which had been previously held, that single instance would be the death blow of her claim to infallibility."(Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, p74)

            Baptism: No infant baptism till 4th century.

            "When all fear of persecution had passed away, and the empire had become almost entirely Christian, the necessity for a prolonged period of trial and instruction no longer existed, about the same time the fuller teaching on the subject of original sin, occasioned by the Pelagian heresy, gradually led to the administration of baptism of infants." (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. V, p. 78).

            Nothing is written in stone...all can be subject to change given the right set of circumstances.

            Dogma invented as recently as 1854.

            "The Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church maintaining that from the moment when she was conceived in the womb, the Blessed Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin and was filled with the sanctifying grace normally conferred during baptism. It is one of the four dogmas in Roman Catholic Mariology. Mary is often called the Immaculata (the Immaculate One), particularly in artistic and cultural contexts."

            "The doctrine was not formally proclaimed until December 8, 1854, by Pope Pius IX in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus. It is not formal doctrine except in the Roman Catholic Church."

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            You spill rivers of ink on the subject of the Catholic Faith (which you do not understand even approximately- your hilarious misapprehension of papal infallibility, which is only exercised under specific conditions and is a charism of Christ bestowed upon the holder of the office, not a personal attribute of the occupant- is a resplendent blunder among many in your post above)- and yet......

            Here you write down:

            "First, there is no evidence that Jesus was a real person"

            Why on earth spend rivers of ink on a person you would be prepared to argue might never have existed?

            It is an interesting question for a psychologist, perhaps.

            The atheists really do seem to be fascinated all out of proportion by this Jesus Whom they are apparently prepared to claim never existed in the first place :-)

        • Dcn Harbey Santiago

          Mel Gibson belongs a a traditionalist splinter group, which is not in Communion with the Pope. Not because one calls himself Catholic means one IS Catholic. One needs to be a member of a congregation with a direct connection with the Bishop of Rome,to be an official member of the Church.

          "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
          Deacon Harbey Santiago

          • Ignorant Amos

            I see. A traditionalist eh?

            So, does that go for all those millions of sinners sneakily using contraception, or having abortions, in direct defiance of church doctrine and the bishop of Rome.

            "Although it is virtually unknown in much public international discourse, the Roman Catholic position on abortion is pluralistic. It has a strong "pro-choice" tradition and a conservative anti-choice tradition. Neither is official and neither is more Catholic than the other. The hierarchical attempt to portray the Catholic position as univocal, an unchanging negative wafted through twenty centuries of untroubled consensus, is untrue. By unearthing this authentic openness to choice on abortion and on contraception in the core of the tradition, the status of the anti-choice position is revealed as only one among many Catholic views."

            Regardless of the rules. So, why is Gibson's traditional Catholicism an exception. There are many Catholicisms it would appear...some are in contravention of the rule book, the Vatican and the Pope.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            Is not a matter of been traditionalist, is a matter of been in communion with the Pope. To be Catholic one needs to freely accept the authority of the bishop of Rome as coming from the true successor of the apostle Peter. It is not enough to say "I'm Catholic".

            >> the Roman Catholic position on abortion is pluralistic.

            Hardly, if you want to know the official position of the Catholic Church on abortion read paragraphs 2270-2275 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That some Catholics do not accept this position is different than saying the position is pluralistic.

            >>So, why is Gibson's traditional Catholicism an exception.

            Like I mention above he does not accept the authority of the Pope as the legal head of the Catholic Church.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            Deacon Harbey Santiago

          • Ignorant Amos

            >>Is not a matter of been traditionalist, is a matter of been in communion with the Pope. To be Catholic one needs to freely accept the authority of the bishop of Rome as coming from the true successor of the apostle Peter. It is not enough to say "I'm Catholic".

            This appears to be inaccurate.

            "His friend the Jesuit scholar William Fulco says that Mel denies neither the Pope nor Vatican II."

            It is his father who is at odds with the Pope and a sedevacantism. The fact Hutton Gibson and many others hold this position kind of supports my argument elsewhere that dogma can be modified or ignored when required.

            "Sedevacantists believe that Paul VI (1963–1978), John Paul I (1978), John Paul II (1978–2005), Benedict XVI (2005–2013), and Francis (2013–present) have been neither true Catholics nor true Popes, by virtue of allegedly having espoused the heresy of Modernism, or of having otherwise denied or contradicted solemnly defined Catholic dogmas. Some of them classify John XXIII (1958–1963) also as a Modernist antipope."

            Who gets to decide what true Catholicism means. Not the Pope if some traditionalists don't recognize the position. Perhaps the traditionalists are right and the liberal modernists are the heretics.

            But that isn't relevant to my point. There are many versions of Catholicism. The fact that many Catholics are at odds with the Pope about means they are not accepting the papal authority on various contentious issues, abortion, contraception and homosexuality for example. By your logic, all these folk are not "real" Catholics. They're maybe saying "I'm a Catholic", but they are not playing by the rules that make one a Catholic.

            > the Roman Catholic position on abortion is pluralistic.

            >>Hardly, if you want to know the official position of the Catholic Church on abortion read paragraphs 2270-2275 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That some Catholics do not accept this position is different than saying the position is pluralistic.

            Well you are at odds with Professor Daniel C. Maguire, Catholic Theologian, Marquette University on that account. Perhaps you should read "The Moderate Roman Catholic Position on Contraception and Abortion" by the said professor so you can all be reading off the same hymn sheet.

            >So, why is Gibson's traditional Catholicism an exception.

            >>Like I mention above he does not accept the authority of the Pope as the legal head of the Catholic Church.

            Like I said, you appear to be in error on this point, but if you can cite a reference source that says different, I will review and amend my position. Regardless though, as I have said already, millions of Catholics don't accept the Popes authority on some very important doctrinal issues, so by your logic, they don't count either.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            >>This appears to be inaccurate.

            >>"His friend the Jesuit scholar William Fulco says that Mel denies neither the Pope nor Vatican II."

            This might be the case but, building a Church in Malibu without the permission of his bishop doesn't seen very Catholic to me. Actions speak louder that words.

            >>Well you are at odds with Professor Daniel C. Maguire, Catholic Theologian, Marquette University on that account.

            You DO realize that Prof Maguire does not get to dictate Catholic dogma right? Do you know who has this power? Do you understand how dogma develops in the Church? HINT: The Church is NOT a democracy.

            >>already, millions of Catholics don't accept the Popes
            authority on some very important doctrinal issues, so by your logic,
            they don't count either.

            You seen to be confusing disagreeing with not accepting authority. One can disagree with the Government in certain laws, while still accepting its legitimate authority. It is not that uncommon.

            I really have no desire to continue this conversation. Thanks for taking the time to talk.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            Deacon Harbey Santiago.

          • Ignorant Amos

            >>This might be the case but, building a Church in Malibu without the permission of his bishop doesn't seen very Catholic to me. Actions speak louder that words.

            Is it a requirement to seek and receive permission a bishop before building a church. It would be "his" bishop if he is indeed out of compliance. As I said, it doesn't matter, my point still stands although it is a matter of interest for me.

            >>You DO realize that Prof Maguire does not get to dictate Catholic dogma right? Do you know who has this power? Do you understand how dogma develops in the Church? HINT: The Church is NOT a democracy.

            Well, It is handed down from your god via the pious so I'm led to believe. Then it gets interpreted via councils. I just thought a professor of theology would know better than the laity when describing the subject as "pluralistic"...there's no need to shot the messenger because one of your own in a position of authority is giving out ropey information.

            >>You seen to be confusing disagreeing with not accepting authority. One can disagree with the Government in certain laws, while still accepting its legitimate authority. It is not that uncommon.

            That analogy would work if those at the centre of it were not breaking the law. Millions of Catholics are not only disagreeing with the rules, they are flaunting them. This tells me that they are not taking the consequences very seriously and they are most certainly not accepting the church or the popes authority on these issues.

            >>I really have no desire to continue this conversation.

            Your prerogative I suppose.

            >>Thanks for taking the time to talk.

            You too, it nice to discuss these issues with someone with a bit of knowledge on the churches workings. Something I'm not used to I'm afraid.

            Best regards.

        • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

          Mel Gibson may be out of touch in some areas.

          This is certainly not one of them.

          “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)

  • Jill

    The so-called "The Friendly Atheist" banned theists who commented on this anti-Catholic article he posted.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/05/24/vatican-representative-just-to-be-clear-atheists-are-still-going-to-hell/

    • Mark Hunter

      But he didn't ban your comment "The so-called "friendly atheist" decided he hates theists so much he deleted all theist comments and left the anti-theist hateful comments alone. Typical censorship by anti-theists."

      Her replied under your comment that "Theists don't get deleted. Trolls/evangelizers/crazy people do."

      He didn't block you, Amit.

      • Jill

        Yes he did, and banned my IP. I had to go on my firends computer to post.

        • Mark Hunter

          What did you post that got you banned. Would it pass the posting guidelines of this blog?

          • Jill

            I posted a rebuttal article by a Harvard expert on AIDS. Being called various swear words of course is acceptibe on atheist portals, but contributing academic articles is a no no, especially when refuting atheistic dogma.

          • Mark Hunter

            I hope this is not presuming too much and the moderators can call it if not appropriate, but if you have a copy can you post it here for us to decide.

          • Jill

            What do you mean by "us"?

          • Mark Hunter

            Bad choice of words. Just for readers here to view. There is no collective us implied.

          • Jill

            The foremost expert in AIDS research in Africa with many years of studies by him and his teams:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2009/03/aids_expert_who_defended_the_p.html

          • Mark Hunter

            Seems innocuous enough. The science and logic of the article is questionable but not offensive.

          • Jill

            Here we go AGAIN>>>the research was done over many years by different teams under that professor, who WAS a condom advocate in the beginning, but even he could not in good conscience go against the scientific data showing that condom use was causing the spread of AIDS>>> It seem to me that atheists do not care for evidence but stick to atheist dogma that rolls off the well-oiled atheist propaganda machine.

          • Mark Hunter

            One doesn't base one's opinion only one researcher's opinion any more than you would base your life on one book (maybe that's a bad analogy).

            My point in saying it's questionable is that most HIV researchers advocate condoms as part of dealing with AIDS. The ABC method is, in order of usage, Abstinence Be faithful, use Condoms. All three and in that order.

            This is off topic and I'll not post on this here again.

          • Jill

            Did you actually read what I posted?

            He was not one researcher per se but the co-ordinator of teams of research over many years. It was THE most rigorous extended study ever on the impact of condoms on the spread of AIDS in Africa.

            It really gets me that atheists will not shift from their dogma no matter the evidence placed in front of them. Like Dawkins not caring for evidence when Rupert Sheldrake proferred peer-reviewed evidence in front of him, so also are his devotees similarly tied to their dogma no matter the evidence against.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Jill,

            Before this discussion continues, perhaps you could explain what it has to do with Pope Francis's remarks about atheists. It appears totally off topic here, and although I have not read much on the Friendly Atheist site, it looks to me like it was off topic there.

          • Jill

            My comment on the so-called "The Friendly Atheist" website was in rebutal to some anti-theist Catholic-hating rabid ignorant person who said in so many "nice" *ahem* words how evil the pope and teh Catholic church was...she specifically mentioned how many people in Africa who were dying of AIDS because of the Catholic church. Lies upon lies upon lies. Should all those lies be accepted?

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            I don't see why posts on The Friendly Atheist site, however objectionable you may find them, need to be discussed on Strange Notions in a thread that has nothing to do with AIDS and condoms.

          • Andre Boillot

            Jill,

            At the risk of going off-topic...

            "the scientific data showing that condom use was causing the spread of AIDS"

            This is absolutely not what he says, and is frankly a willful misrepresentation of his overall points.

            "Edward Green: Well, I would say that [condoms] should,
            again, be made available. They should be available as a backup strategy. It's obviously better to not indulge in a risk behaviour ... Lets go back to what we know about condoms: when they are used consistently, when they are used consistently, they provide, under more or less ideal
            conditions, about 80 to 85 per cent risk reduction, compared to those who don't use them at all. But how many--what percentage of any large national population--uses condoms consistently? Probably nowhere in excess of 5 per cent."

            The issue in Africa was a lack of education surrounding AIDs in general, and condoms specifically. What Green is saying is that you cannot solve the AIDs crisis in Africa by *only* handing out condoms, and not addressing the societal / educational issues - many of which were rendering the risk reduction of condoms moot.

          • Jill

            Before I answer, I want to know your position, ie are you an atheist troll tied to the well-oiled atheist lying propaganda machine, or a real and true Roman Catholic?

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            In Internet slang, a troll (pron.: /ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

          • Jill

            Of course you are describing yourself to a tee. Where is the "block" button around here?

          • Jill

            Also I have noticed that so many atheists and especially anti-theists go off topic continually. No matter the topic, the hate spewed against religion and especially against Roman Catholics always comes up and sullies decorum.

          • Andre Boillot

            Jill,

            I don't see how me being an atheist or Catholic has any bearing on being able to read and comprehend the material present in your link. The words say what they say, and mean what they mean. If quoting from the source you cited to make your case is "well-oiled atheist lying propaganda", then I suppose we're at an impasse.

            Since I'm curious as to what your answer could possibly be, I'll say that I'm a Catholic turned atheist.

          • Michael Murray

            I think that might be just a bit of a false dichotomy don't you ?

          • Jill

            I guess you are one of those atheist trolls coming out of the woodwork after being subject to the well-oiled lying atheist propaganda machine. No need to answer.

          • Michael Murray

            Yep that's me. Is that a problem for you ?

          • Jill

            Yes, it's a problem for truth. Evidence will by-pass your ingrained atheistic dogma. Dawkinites follow their high priest when he dismisses peer-reviewed evidence. Rupert Sheldrake caught him out.

            See here:

            http://www.sheldrake.org/D&C/controversies/Dawkins.html

          • Michael Murray

            So I don't understand what the controversy here is with Green. For a long time the advice to avoid HIV/AIDS in Africa has been ABC. A = abstain, B= be faithful, C = use a condom. Taken in that order.

            I'm also not sure why we are discussing effectiveness of condoms. I always find Catholics using the non-effectiveness of condoms as a public health device disingenuous in the extreme. The RCCs opposition to condom use is not based on their effectiveness.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            I agree that the issue of the Catholic Church, AIDS, and condoms is entirely off topic in a thread about what Pope Francis said about atheists being redeemed. However, Dr. Edward Green's position has been distorted, so I will just note that in an article in the Washington Post, Green said the following:

            Let me quickly add that condom promotion has worked in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia, where most HIV is transmitted through commercial sex and where it has been possible to enforce a 100 percent condom use policy in brothels (but not outside of them). In theory, condom promotions ought to work everywhere. And intuitively, some condom use ought to be better than no use. But that's not what the research in Africa shows.

            Dr. Green's position on condoms is purely pragmatic. It is not at all the case that he was "a condom advocate in the beginning, but even he could not in good
            conscience go against the scientific data showing that condom use was
            causing the spread of AIDS." He supports condom use when it works. He makes no moral case against condoms.

          • Jill

            Even Dawkins, who advocates reason and evidence is stuck in his atheistic dogma. Biologist and philosopher Rupert Sheldrake of Cambridge university caught him out:

            http://www.sheldrake.org/D&C/controversies/Dawkins.html

          • TiltedHorizon

            With all respect Jill, your foremost expert is in the minority. There have been numerous studies on AIDs and Condoms, the consensus of which state, emphatically, that condoms can reduce transmissions of STDs and the AIDs virus, when used correctly and consistently.

            http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.htm

            http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/byAudience/ForPatientAdvocates/HIVandAIDSActivities/ucm126372.htm

            http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/condoms/en/

            These sites are not "well oiled atheist propaganda machines". Three sites, from respected and trusted sources (IMHO), that work in concert to form my conclusion. Why should I doubt it on the basis on one 'expert'?

          • Jill

            Too many anti-theist trolls around here. The same ones who posted such vile comments on the so-called "The Friendly Atheist" website. In fact you lied saying I told people they would/should be raped. I do not condone such and the person who said that was not me but another self-confessed atheist.

          • TiltedHorizon

            Here is my post to you:

            Hello again Jill. Please point to where I accused you of saying that.

            "An f-bomb from time to time is overlooked, a curse used a emphasis or color is not a problem. The 'fact' is your ilk posted things like "You deserve to be raped" and they were banned as a result. The only 'hypocrisy' in the resulting ban is your cry of umbrage."

          • Jill

            A total lie too include me(a theist) in with rabid anti-theists who cursed and swore incessantly. I had no part in that, so your nasty lies concerning this is patently false and a total character assassination attempt. You fail miserably,

          • TiltedHorizon

            If you are going to challenge my recollection of events it may behoove you to not display the same behavior on this thread as you did in the other.

          • Leila Miller

            What are the chances that people in the heat of the moment, are going to use condoms "correctly and consistently" every single time they have a sexual encounter (give me a general percentage, in your opinion)? Russian Roulette is safe most of the time, as well.

          • TiltedHorizon

            Your question highlights the need to use condoms "correctly and consistently" to be afforded protection. This is correct. Your question also brings to light the human dependance on doing the right thing; i.e. using condoms "correctly and consistently" every single time they have a sexual encounter. The problem is therefore human fallibility. Taking the human element into account then what are the chances that people "in the heat of the moment" will decide to not have sex for lack of a condom? By comparison it would be easier to take a moment to protect yourself and your partner than to stop cold.

            Skydiving has a failure rate too but it is still safer to jump with a chute than without.

          • Leila Miller

            But again, we know well that failure to use a condom correctly is almost certain in a condom user's lifetime (even in a condom user's "year-time" or a "month-time"). We cannot say the same for a skydiver. Most skydivers will not have regular chute failure in his or her lifetime. But most (all) condom users will have user failures. Wouldn't you agree? I used to use condoms with my husband. We are both college-educated (he, post-graduate), fairly competent folks who act rationally. And yet, we had a condom break once when we did everything "right". This sort of thing is not uncommon at all.

            I mean, if every skydiver were almost certainly going to have an accident (and possibly often), would you still be advocating skydiving as a "safe" activity?

          • TiltedHorizon

            Feels like we are crossing into a metaphysical discussion on condom use. In an attempt to avoid hypothetical scenarios let me try to attach some rails to this discussion so we can stay grounded.

            In your argument you state: we had a condom break once when we did everything "right". Once. As in one occasion or for one time. So based on anecdotal evidence you assert that condoms don't work?

            I've used condoms as well, enough to have a sense of how well they work, I've had two failures, out of... um... a lot of uses. (Same woman, I'm not that kind of guy)

            Obviously experience varies, I therefore draw conclusions based, anecdotal evidence, but on outside sources like the links formally provided.

            Your argument of "failure" over a "condom user's lifetime" is certainly true, but that does translate to mean protection was not afforded the last 10, 20, etc times a condom was used.

            As for skydiving, I don't advocate it as a "safe" activity. Much the same way I don't advocate being a Police Offer or Fireman as "safe" work. Life is dangerous, which is why I advocate being prepared; Chutes, Bullet Proof vests, Fire Retardant clothes, and condoms.

          • Leila Miller

            Actually, I didn't go into a history of all the condom use in my life. :) Just the very best and most "mature" scenario, and still there was failure. I went to public school and then a party college. I am well aware of the non-existence of "consistent and correct" use of condoms. We both know it. Everyone knows it.

            Again, it's much safer to be a skydiver than a teen using a condom. So, why do we call it "safe" sex? It's not safe. Life is dangerous, true. But faithful sex with one partner, in marriage, is not dangerous. It's safe and wonderful. I have lived what I call the "Planned Parenthood" lifestyle, and I have lived the other way. I just think we need to stop lying to people, especially young people, that sex with condoms is "safe sex". That is an untruth.

          • TiltedHorizon

            "So, why do we call it "safe" sex? It's not safe."

            In all fairness I have not called it "safe" sex, the term is an oxymoron in my opinion. It instills a sense of guaranteed protection which is NOT present.

            As a foster I tell my teens that I don't endorse sex, I prefer they abstain, but I also tell them about condoms. It is the aforementioned human element, the reality that despite informing them of the dangers, the risks, the pitfalls, the tribulations; they likely will still stumble and learn the hard way.

            You know as well as I do how the "heat of the moment" weakens conviction. Even if condoms only offered a 10% chance of averting STDs, that is still an increase from zero protection.

          • Leila Miller

            I have enjoyed the discussion as well! I will just add that I think we don't give teens nearly enough credit. They do see through our words and know when we don't think they can control themselves; they know when our expectations are low, low, low. Here are things I have never said and will never say to my own teens (I have had four so teens far [my eldest is 21], with a fifth child turning 13 this summer, and some more up and coming in the next several years):

            "I prefer you don't smoke, but here is the best brand to buy if you do, and here are some filters and an ashtray."
            "I prefer you don't cut, but here are some clean blades and rubbing alcohol for sterilization if you do."
            "I prefer you don't use drugs, but here are some clean needles in your nightstand if you really want to shoot up."
            "I prefer you don't drive recklessly, but here is a police scanner and a list of possible excuses to tell the officer if he should catch you speeding."
            "I prefer you don't drink as a minor, but I will buy your booze and host the party here if you decide to drink anyway."

            The message sent when we facilitate the bad/harmful/irresponsible/dangerous behavior is "you can't really control yourself, so let me help you mitigate the damage". But this is not our role as adults. We should believe in our kids! It's insulting to them to imply that they cannot control themselves or act with dignity, honor, and virtue. And yes, though the "human factor" will always be there, it is still better to hold the high standard. They will respond! I have lived my life one way, and I have raised my children another way. The results have exceeded my wildest expectations, and yet, it shouldn't surprise me. When we expect goodness and virtue from our kids, they rise to the occasion. It's a beautiful thing! My sons have not used any young ladies as objects, shattered any young hearts, or risked their own health, academics and futures (nor their souls). My daughters have not been used and played with then discarded, impregnated or infected, and have healthy, happy, non-chaotic, unconfused, yet productive lives. My oldest daughter is getting married to a virtuous young man in September and I look at their love and their purity with such gratitude… and wishing I had lived my life with that kind of freedom and peace and joy -- no regrets. I had never seen such a thing growing up, and now I see it in so many of the teens and young adults I encounter in my little "circle" of Catholic friends' children. It is real, not a pipe dream, and every child deserves to understand that they are not animals out of control, but human beings with dignity and self-possession. Sorry, I could go on and on, but I will let it lie. Thanks so much for the discussion, truly!

          • Michael Murray

            My sons have not used any young ladies as objects, shattered any young hearts, or risked their own health, academics and futures (nor their souls). My daughters have not been used and played with then discarded, impregnated or infected, and have healthy, happy, non-chaotic, unconfused, yet productive lives.

            While is the world for Catholics so full of false dichotomies? It is not a choice between what you describe above and celibacy until Catholic marriage. Many, many young people and not so young people live in long term, sexually active, unmarried, relationships with the same degree of love, thought and commitment that I am sure your children will show to their partners. You don't have follow all the rules of a committed Catholic to be a human being with dignity and self-possession.

            Michael

          • Leila Miller

            Michael, do you think what you describe is the norm for unmarried people in our culture today (teens and young adults especially)? And if so, why do they need to use condoms for disease protection if they are faithful and monogamous for life?

            Also, is cohabitation the same"degree of commitment" that marriage is? I am not sure that is the case. I guess I do know one or two folks (actually they are in their 70s, from my parents' baby boom generation) who have been living together (after their divorces many years ago) with the level of commitment of marriage (from what I know), but I believe they may be common law married now. Not sure. This kind of thing is not the norm, of course (we live in a hook-up culture now).

            Clearly there are degrees and ranges in how people treat each other in relationships, and the agreed-upon rules of those relationships. But why not hold up the ideal again and see what happens? It's actually a beautiful thing, and it's not part of a false dichotomy. It's simply the values we all used to understand and which society held up as the ideal, because it is best for both body and soul -- and, as most people forget, it's best for the children who result from sexual union. (Sex is the baby-making act, after all, even though we tend to want to eliminate them when they show up and interfere with our sex life -- but that's a topic for another day).

          • Michael Murray

            I think sexual activity by adults and young adults is a normal thing. I don't particularly care what gender combination they do it in or when they do it or even how committed they are to each other. As long as they are honest and caring and take appropriate precautions to avoid pregnancy, unless they want to get pregnant, and to avoid spreading disease. Sex can be a pleasurable form of exercise, a way of having children, a source of joy, a source of comfort, a way of bonding, a way of relaxing, with or without a partner of either gender etc, etc ... My morality on these matters begins and ends with people treating others with respect and behaving responsibly. Beyond that I don't think what people do is any of my business.

            This isn't to say I don't have concerns about some of the things going on in our society which are sex related. The early sexualisation of girls by media and advertising, the easy availability of unpleasant and distorted pornography, the sexual objectification of women in advertising would rank a lot higher on my list than sex before marriage.

            I don't know what ideal you are talking about. I did have it explained to me by someone here that the Catholic ideal is that women should have as many children as possible. I think telling women to do that is the immoral. Both for their personal health and the the good of mankind. But when heaven is waiting the long term survival of the human races takes a back seat.

            Sex is the baby-making act, after all,

            That isn't it's only use even amongst our near cousins the bonobos. Even it was true are you suggesting that our actions should be driven entirely by our natural urges.

            even though we tend to want to eliminate them when they show up and interfere with our sex life

            Who is "we" ? Don't count me in here.

            Michael

          • Leila Miller

            Your second paragraph would seem to me the very natural consequence of what you describe in the first paragraph -- the making of sex common (sort of like a grown-up form of eating ice cream).

            "I don't know what ideal you are talking about." The ideal that sex is a privilege of marriage. I am not that old, and yet I still remember growing up (in the '70s and '80s) where that was held as the ideal, even if it was increasingly difficult to live up to the ideal in a society determined to cast it off.

            "I did have it explained to me by someone here that the Catholic ideal is that women should have as many children as possible." This could not have come from a Catholic, at least not one familiar with Catholic teaching. So, I would not know how to respond to this except to say, that is absurd. Women are not to be used. Utilitarianism is not compatible with human dignity. Utilitarianism (using people and loving things, rather than the converse) is a reflection of modern society, not Catholicism.

            I didn't say that the only use of sex was baby-making, I said that "sex is the baby-making act". Isn't that just a biological fact that we can agree on?

            "Who is 'we' ? Don't count me in here." I am glad you said this. You are pro-life, then?

          • Michael Murray

            Your second paragraph would seem to me the very natural consequence of what you describe in the first paragraph -- the making of sex common (sort of like a grown-up form of eating ice cream).

            No I don't agree that that is at all obvious.

            OK thanks for the clarification that you mean the idea that sex is a privilege of marriage. I don't agree with that. In the past when we used to have women effectively owned by men, continually pregnant, forced to have sex aa an obligation, forced to stay in abusive marriages because they couldn't get divorced. Women unfortunate enough to have children outside of marriage had children removed and given to someone and locked up in places like the infamous Magdalene Laundries. Do I want to return to that kind of Catholic Utopia. No thanks. I think you will find me and most atheists are going to fight pretty hard to stop any roll back of women's ability to control their fertility.

            This could not have come from a Catholic, at least not one familiar with Catholic teaching.

            http://www.strangenotions.com/scandal-faith/#comment-900917195

            Oh pro-life as in anit-abortion. No I'm not opposed to the current abortion laws in countries like Australia. I guess I made the obvious above.

          • Leila Miller

            The idea that sex is a privilege of marriage is not an "old-fashioned Catholic more". In fact, I believe that the orthodox of every major world religion hold the same more, that sex is for marriage. As for "controlling their fertility", does that mean that healthy fertility (yes, fertility = health) is somehow out of control? Would you ever say that normal, healthy eyesight is "out of control" or a healthy cardiac system is "out of control"? I mean, I get the secular mindset (I used to embrace it), but when it suddenly hit me that fertility is not a disease, some things started falling into place. And as a Catholic, I know more about my fertility and my female biology than my secular counterparts. I've got it under control more than I ever did before, so no worries. And I'm not fighting my biology now as a practicing Catholic, which is nice, to say the least.

            I looked through the thread you linked, read the whole thing, and I can't find anything that says women should have as many children as possible. I could be missing something, so could you cut and paste the assertion for me?

            You still have not agreed with me that sex is the baby-making act. It's a biological fact, isn't it? Can we agree then? After all, there is a reason that the reproductive system is called the reproductive system (think, "reproduce"). Just as the respiratory system is about respiration. The digestive system is about digestion. The nervous system is about the nerves. And so on.

            There is no biological purpose at all to masturbation. Female orgasm is part of the bonding (unitive) aspect of sex, to bond a husband and wife together -- but it's not necessary for baby-making, biologically.

            You are not against abortion? I had said: "We tend to want to eliminate them [babies] when they show up and interfere with our sex life." Who are the "we" if not those who believe in abortion rights? What is abortion for, if not to eliminate an unwanted problem which came about during what we had hoped to be an unfettered sex life?

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            No one that I know of claims that fertility is a disease. And of course people who practice NFP (or even total abstinence) are taking control of their fertility just as much as those who use "artificial" contraception. You yourself say you've got it under control more than you ever did.

            Taking control of bodily functions is perfectly healthy for human beings, otherwise it would be wrong of parents to "potty train" children. Taking control of bodily functions is one of the bedrocks of civilization.

            Even sexual intercourse performed to all "Catholic specifications" is, for a large percentage of people, not "the baby making act." Women continue to have sex long after they are incapable of "making babies." And of course there are numerous sex acts that fertile opposite-sex couples can do that don't make babies, not to mention sexual behavior of same-sex couples. It is quite normal for human beings to engage in non-procreative sex, but Catholicism forbids it. And of course non-procreative sex takes place in the animal kingdom frequently.

            Sex is not the "baby making act." Catholicism wants to limit it to the "baby making act" beyond all reason, including requiring infertile couples to engage in sexual behavior only as if they were fertile and (basically) trying to get pregnant. See, for example, Germain Grisez's answer to What sexual activity is permissible for elderly married couples? While I realize Grisez is being compassionate and trying to define the boundaries as much as possible (within a Catholic framework) to permit "unitive" sex for elderly, infertile couples, it is difficult to read what is allowed and what is forbidden without feeling the whole enterprise is somewhat looney.

            As for fertility control and the "secular mindset," most world religions have no problem with contraception.

          • Leila Miller

            Hi David,

            Before we hit the many points you brought up, we have to get the foundational out of the way: If sexual intercourse (the conjugal act, whatever you'd like to call it) is not the "baby-making act" biologically, then what is? I am not sure how we can disagree on something so basic, so I have to know what you believe to be the biological act that produces babies? No one has yet answered that question here.

            As for the animal kingdom, there are many things that animals do that we wouldn't want to use as the touchstone for human morality or standards (sexually or otherwise), so can we stick with humans, since we possess reason and the ability to identify and choose a moral act?

            As for contraception, I believe that religious orthodoxy of the major world religions has been to oppose contraception in all or most cases, though in recent years some have strayed from orthodoxy and changed or reversed teaching. The Catholic Church has not changed teaching despite all manner of pressure (nor will she), and that is quite amazing if one believes the Church to be a merely human institution.

          • Michael Murray

            In fact, I believe that the orthodox of every major world religion hold the same more, that sex is for marriage.

            Yes, well, religions have always been the home of misogynists haven't they.

            I've got it under control more than I ever did before, so no worries.

            Why do you want it under control ? Isn't it more natural to have a baby as often as you can ?

            What the big deal in any case about normal? In the normal order of events we used to have women having a lot of children and dying a lot in childbirth. Science has solved both these problems but for some reason the Catholic Church is happy only about the second.

            I looked through the thread you linked, read the whole thing, and I can't find anything that says women should have as many children as possible.

            This bit. Perhaps the intent is not actually as many as possible but it's a lot more than is good for the planet.

            Or is it openness to life in faithful marriage that results in abundant life? In my Parish, most young families have between five and eight children;

            You are not against abortion? I had said: "We tend to want to eliminate them [babies] when they show up and interfere with our sex life." Who are the "we" if not those who believe in abortion rights? What is abortion for, if not to eliminate an unwanted problem which came about during what we had hoped to be an unfettered sex life?

            Seriously? You think the only reason people have abortions is because they want to continue with their sex lives ? That was my objection. I can categorically say I would not tell someone to have an abortion so that I could continue an unfettered sex life.

            I also didn't say I was not against abortion I said I supported the current laws in the country I live in. A different matter.

            So just out of interest do you really think that one second after conception that tiny bunch of cells has a soul and is a l human being? What is a soul by the way? What are it's properties and how does it interact with the material body?

          • Leila Miller

            The first comment is snarky, not intellectually honest, and I won't respond.

            Rather than "control" (although I have that, too, through the understanding of biology), I should have said that I am more knowledgeable about how my body works than I ever was before. Giving pills to derail a working female body is anti-woman in my opinion. What is so wrong with women's bodies that they need to be altered when they are working correctly? How is that not misogynistic?

            I never said that what was "natural" was equivalent to the good (after all, there are many things that come "naturally" to folks that are not good). It's better to think of the good as that which is rightly ordered. There is nothing wrong with a husband and a wife raising a big family (I'm doing it, and I love it, especially having come from a small family -- and I don't believe the world is overpopulated by a long shot), but there is nothing "natural" about having as many children as a human body can have, and in fact, one would have to find a way to time things so that each ovulation resulted in a pregnancy. Who does that and who ever proposed that? How exactly would that even come about? How would we make that happen? That would require every woman on the planet, from the beginning of history, having ovulation detection information -- seriously it would have to be quite advanced technology -- and then requiring that both husband and wife (by force of law?) have sex each time the woman ovulates, or at least require force on the man's part (legal rape, even against the man's will, too?) You are speaking about something that seems quite bizarre to me. I cannot even make sense of it.

            People who engage in the baby-making act (did we ever agree that sex makes babies?) should understand that there is always a possibility that the baby-making act will make a baby. They should approach the act with a reverence and awe that does transcend something like eating ice cream, because human beings matter, human lives are at stake, including lifelong (and I would say even eternal) consequences to both the man and the woman who partake in such a serious and beautiful act. We play at sex and reduce it to mere recreation to our peril, as we can see from the fall out in this very troubled culture (in which children always suffer the most).

            If a couple cannot welcome a baby at any particular time, then a couple should not engage in the act that makes babies. Is that so crazy? Seems logical to me. And, even though NFP can be used to space or avoid pregnancy (an end which can be perfectly moral), it does not come with a contraceptive mentality. The baby will be welcomed, should he be created, even if he was not "planned". I feel we are opening up a new subject (NFP), but you can check my Little Catholic Bubble blog for more on that, if you are truly interested.

            As for abortion: Even the liberals on the US Supreme Court (Casey vs. PP) acknowledge that we need abortion as a back up for failed contraception, because that is how our society has in recent decades ordered its sexual relationships. So, yes, abortion is available because someone's desire for unfettered sex has failed, i.e., the contract ("we will have sex but no baby") has been breached, and there must be a remedy for that. The child is interloper (rather than biological consequence of the act designed to make him), and must be eliminated.

            If the couple performing the sex act had been open to the possibility of a child that might result, would we really need abortion? Seriously, would we? (Or are you arguing that all abortions are performed on wanted children who unfortunately have serious birth defects or risk the very life of the mother?)

            And yes, I believe a soul is infused at the moment of conception. If we just stick to science, science is clear that a new human being is created at conception (do you need textbook sources? I can give them), and I believe it is morally wrong for stronger human beings to kill weaker human beings. That is a principle I live by and that most people understand as a matter of Natural Law (though they find ways to justify why in certain cases it's just gotta be okay).

            If you are truly interested in the properties of the soul, etc., I suggest Dr. Stacy Trasancos' blog. She is a contributor here, as well.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "People who engage in the baby-making act (did we ever agree that sex makes babies?) should understand that there is always a possibility that the baby-making act will make a baby. They should approach the act with a reverence and awe that does transcend something like eating ice cream, because human beings matter, human lives are at stake, including lifelong (and I would say even eternal) consequences to both the man and the woman who partake in such a serious and beautiful act. We play at sex and reduce it to mere recreation to our peril, as we can see from the fall out in this very troubled culture (in which children always suffer the most)."

            Brava.

          • Michael Murray

            The first comment is snarky, not intellectually honest, and I won't respond.

            A little bit snarky sure. But do you really disagree with the observation that most major religions have been dominated by men and about controlling female sexuality.

            If a couple cannot welcome a baby at any particular time, then a couple should not engage in the act that makes babies. Is that so crazy? Seems logical to me.

            If that is your choice fine. Just not sure why you, and your church, insist on trying to make the rest of us get on board.

            If you are truly interested in the properties of the soul, etc., I suggest Dr. Stacy Trasancos' blog. She is a contributor here, as well.

            Thank you. I've seen some of her contributions here.

          • Leila Miller

            "But do you really disagree with the observation that most major religions have been dominated by men and about controlling female sexuality."

            In what way is female sexuality being "controlled"? I really don't understand. As I have said, I have lived the Planned Parenthood way, and the Catholic way. The PP way is so incredibly degrading and undignified. The Catholic way…. I cannot even express the difference, and how beautiful it is to be a woman with the view of sexuality that my female body is to be cherished, not used, and that it is perfect just as it is, without having to alter or derail it with steroids, devices, and implants. Again, to me, the idea that women should be sterilized so as to be used at any moment as objects for men is the demoralizing, degrading, misogynistic position. I often say that sex, in the Catholic view, is a beautiful Renoir, and must be treated with awe, reverence and respect; the secular view of sex takes that Renoir and uses it for the lining of a birdcage.

            "Just not sure why you, and your church, insist on trying to make the rest of us get on board."

            The Church proposes, not imposes. Don't you try to vote in your values and beliefs when you go to the ballot box, or try to influence the culture in ways you think are best, or try to convince your friends or family or peers of things you believe are true and good? I think it would be strange to find someone who doesn't. That would be a person of no principles, no convictions. You are on this site debating things, just like me. The Church has a voice. Isn't that okay?

          • Michael Murray

            The Church proposes, not imposes. Don't you try to vote in your values

            and beliefs when you go to the ballot box, or try to influence the
            culture in ways you think are best, or try to convince your friends or
            family or peers of things you believe are true and good? I think it
            would be strange to find someone who doesn't. That would be a person of
            no principles, no convictions. You are on this site debating things,
            just like me. The Church has a voice. Isn't that okay?

            The Church only proposes when it can't impose. Historically it always imposed. In some Catholic countries, Ireland and the Philippines spring to mind for matters of contraception, it still imposes. It has a great deal of influence beyond that democratic votes of its members. Have a look at the number of UN committees it has observer status on for example. Or look at the enquiries going on in Australia at the moment into paedophilia in the Church to see how it uses it's influence and power to protect itself and its paedophile priests. That will give you an idea of how deep the Churches commitment to openness and democracy is. Or talk to anyone from Ireland, Italy, Spain, Argentina about it's role in politics.

            I actually do have a lot of concerns about people making arguments about civil matters using unevidenced opinion. The Catholic Churches position on abortion law is backed by a belief in souls and the entry of that soul into a foetus at conception which cannot be substantiated in any way. Yet I am supposed to treat that as a serious contribution to a public debate ?

          • Leila Miller

            Michael, up till now I have considered you a respectful and thoughtful debater. I don't have much more to say to you after this. Are you serious? You think that it's not okay for the Church (which has no armies… what are you afraid of?) to be active in the world and the public square? Only Planned Parenthood, radical feminists, gay rights groups, slimy politicians (of all stripes), and Bill and Melinda Gates get to have such a privilege, I suppose? But the Church had better stay silent? No, sorry. The Church speaks for many world citizens, thanks. We get a voice, too.

            As for the UN, are you kidding? "Observer status" by the Vatican scares you? I have been following UN politics for decades now, and I assure you, the power there is not with the Catholic Church. The UN and its powers-that-be in the secular west especially have done as much as possible to undermine the Culture of Life in this world, and the Church is simply trying to mitigate the damage. The Church tries to speak for those who have no voice (unborn humans whom you so callously dismiss as having no right to their own lives), to fight for the dignity of women (I've already gone over that, and you've ignored it), and to fight for the freedom and rights of Christians both in the increasingly hostile, secular west and around the globe, where many Christians are murderously persecuted in alarming numbers.

            As for your last comment: When debating atheists (which I do a lot), I have never made an argument against abortion based on the fact that humans in their mothers' wombs have souls. Forget the "souls" argument, there are plenty of secular folks, atheists even, who are against abortion because it's a human rights issue: We don't kill innocent human beings. Period. The strong are not morally allowed to kill the weak. Period. This is a basic moral principle, and it is valid without discussion of the soul or religion. Look: Belief in the Trinity is a matter of religious belief. Belief that a new human being exists at conception is a scientific fact. Ask the SecularProLife.org folks what they think about ensoulment. (You won't find any "Secularists for the Trinity" groups. Why do you suppose there are pro-life atheists?)

            And come to think of it: You don't believe any human beings have souls (you are an atheist, correct?). So, if you generally believe (and I assume you do) that people shouldn't go around murdering fellow humans (even if they don't have souls), why don't you extend the same courtesy to the unborn of the human family?

          • Michael Murray

            I see you've past on the discussion about the Catholic Churches influence in countries like Ireland, Italy, Argentina, .....

            As for your last comment: When debating atheists (which I do a lot), I
            have never made an argument against abortion based on the fact that
            humans in their mothers' wombs have souls.

            Of course not. That would be bad strategy. But it is the basis of the Catholic Churches belief.

            At this point I intend to stop as the day job calls and these posts are taking up far too much of my time. I do understand your position having grown up with Catholics. As I expect you have heard mine before. Thanks for the conversation.

            Michael

          • Leila Miller

            And I see you've passed on the discussion of science, i.e., the fact that a new human being is begun at conception. ;)

            Not once have I used an argument based on "unevidenced superstition", nor does the Church when she speaks in the public square against abortion, in the same way she has spoken against sex trafficking, or spoken for civil rights for African-Americans, just wages for workers, dignity for immigrants, etc. The Church's concern in the public square is based on human dignity and human rights -- natural law issues that can be apprehended by human reason, both by atheists and theists. Yet, still you will not engage. That is disappointing but completely understandable and expected (in my experience).

            As for Ireland, Italy, Argentina: Where do you suppose the Church gets her influence there? What influence could she have if the people are not willing to give her that voice? Who is giving her influence there if not the citizens who live there? Again, what power does she have: An army? Vast coffers of gold? Mass hypnotic powers? Perhaps there are more practicing Catholics in those nations than you think. Citizens have voices and rights, yes, even Catholic citizens.

            If you truly understand my position (that a new human being is begun at conception, as hard science and basic biology attests), then why would you use insulting diversions such as that I am basing my arguments on "unevidenced superstition", when in fact I am not? It sounds like a dodge, which I am used to. But it always saddens me.

            Many blessings and thanks for the conversation!

          • Andrew G.

            Biologically, one conception results (eventually) in 0 new human beings, or 0.5, or 1, or 2, or (very rarely) 3 or 4. At the time of conception it is not possible to determine which. (Most common result is 0; most conceptions don't lead to a pregnancy. 0.5 results from fraternal twins fusing to form a chimera, which isn't common but is also rarely detected.)

            Ethically, you aren't going to win the abortion argument simply by appealing to conception, because we don't allow the forcible use of one human being's body to maintain the life of even another adult.

          • Leila Miller

            Hi Andrew! Let's stick to mother gestating child for a minute, in our discussion about "forcing" one to maintain another's life. So many things to think about.

            1) Unless there has been a rape, there is no force in pregnancy. The baby-making act very often produces…. a baby. We must teach our children (and ourselves) this very basic truth of biology.

            2) Gestation does not involve any force; it is a passive thing. I know this not only because of common sense, but because I have gestated a few of my own. Again, it's a passive state. (If you disagree, tell me what acts the mother consciously, actively has to do to gestate a child?)

            3) When we talk about force, let's talk about abortion itself. While gestation is passive, an abortion is a jarring, forcible act. After an exchange of money, the woman's cervix is forcibly pried open, and metal instruments forcibly placed up into her uterus. The forcible shredding, tearing, ripping, pulverizing or breaking of the child's body commences and the pieces of his body are forcibly removed prematurely (well, sometimes full-term) from his mother's body. Now, that is force. Not passive at all, as is gestation.

            4) The biological home of the smallest children is in their mothers' wombs. In no way has any child, at any time, ever, forced her way into her mother's uterus. An embryo in the womb is exactly where she is supposed to be, placed there by folks who engaged in the act that makes babies. If an embryo in the womb is not where she is supposed to be, then what is an embryo's natural habitat? Also, what is the biological purpose of the female uterus? No atheist here will acknowledge that sex is, biologically, the "baby-making act" but hopefully you will engage me and answer these questions.

            5) Let's talk ethics, since you brought it up. What is the moral, ethical obligation of a mother to her child? Does a mother have a moral, ethical obligation to her child at all? Remember, we are not talking about random strangers, we are talking about mother and child. What marks that relationship, ethically, morally? What do you think, ethically, of child welfare laws in general?

            But back to your first comment. You are doing as the pro-"choice" medical community has begun to do, and are defining pregnancy as "implantation" of an embryo, not conception. That is a political move, but leaving that aside, I am specifically talking about what the embryo is, objectively speaking, not where it lives. Once conception occurs (either in the woman's body, or in an IVF lab), there is a new human being created. Are you denying, biologically, that this is the case? Because I can link the secular science textbooks if you like. A new human being is begun at conception. It's even true for you. You began to exist at the moment of your conception; if you didn't exist, you could not have implanted, right? (An embryo that does not exist cannot implant.)

            My parents conceived me, this I know. Yours conceived you (assuming you were not made in a lab). When did you, ontologically and biologically (not metaphysically), begin to exist?

            One day, embryos will be raised up for forty weeks in an artificial womb (it will happen). Does that mean that those human beings will have never existed, because they never "implanted" in a womb? Think of the implications of such a belief!

            I would just like someone here (non-Catholic) to agree with what the embryologists and biologists (and their teaching textbooks) say: That a new human being is begun at conception.

            Anyone?

          • Andrew G.

            Let's see what an actual developmental biologist says, shall we:

            But the part that really annoyed me is that she repeatedly announced that SCIENCE had declared the conceptus at the moment of fertilization to be fully human. To demonstrate this, she cited several familiar names: O’Rahilly and Moore, for instance. These are people who have authored descriptive embryological texts that take a phenomenological approach, describing the different stages of development. They are not sources that are good for understanding mechanisms or processes, and they definitely do not represent a deep modern understanding of the progressive and emergent properties of development. What she was relying on is that these kinds of texts will state simple facts, like that fertilization produces a zygote with the complete human genetic complement, which they’ll summarize with some shorthand statement that it is a human embryo (rather than a mouse, or a frog, or a fish). From this, the anti-choicers have spun out unwarranted extensions of reductionist statements to claim that they are making definitive statements about personhood or that they’re discussing something as complex as humanity rather than a minimalist statement about genetics.
            [...]
            Here’s the truth: SCIENCE does not make a definitive statement about the moment at which personhood is acquired. It is a product of a complex process with multiple inputs and interactions and no sharply defined transitions that can be pinned to anything as difficult to define as consciousness, identity, and independence. All we can say is that none of those things are there at conception, and all of them are there are sometime after birth, and that anyone who tries to tell you that they are all there unambiguously at some discrete instant in development is lying to you.

            (context here)

          • Leila Miller

            Andrew, science does not make a statement about personhood, because personhood is a metaphysical concept. In fact, the entire concept of "person" comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity. Why on earth would scientists have anything to do with a personhood discussion? Why, when it comes to justification of abortion, do atheists and materialists suddenly get all metaphysical? Shouldn't the fact that an embryo is a human being be the only concern for you? Let me ask you, what is your reason for question another human being's personhood? Isn't it only to have permission/justification to harm that human being? Why else would someone question the personhood of another? I wrote about it here:

            http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/06/sliding-scale-of-personhood-license-to.html

            I truly would like direct answers to my questions above.

            Here are the scientific texts which explain clearly that a human being is begun at conception (which again, should be your only concern… we don't kill innocent human beings, on principle):

            http://www.abort73.com/abortion/medical_testimony/ (scroll down a bit for textbook excerpts)

            Heck, even abortionists themselves don't hide behind the metaphysical (and contrived) "personhood" debate, as they freely admit that they are killing human beings. If they can admit the killing, why can't you?

            http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abortionists-agree-abortion-is-killing

          • Andre Boillot

            "In fact, the entire concept of "person" comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity."

            An impressive claim I would like to see substantiated.

          • Leila Miller

            Andre, quick question: As an atheist/materialist, what is your interest in metaphysics in general, and "personhood" in particular? Thanks!

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            I'm interested in you (anybody) substantiating the claim that: "the entire concept of "person" comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity."

            I thought that was reasonably clear from my initial remark.

          • Leila Miller

            Andre, from Stacy, who has written a lot on that subject:

            St. Thomas covers it, here:http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1029.htm

            He uses the definition provided by Boethius, and if you click on his name you'll see that Boethius is a 6th century Christian martyr. He was a Roman philosopher who translated Aristotle's logical works from Greek, and (among other things) wrote a treatise about the Trinity. The theologians adopted his definition for "person".

            The word is from the ancient Hellenistic Greek (etymology from the OED) πρόσωπον (prosopon) which means "face, countenance, mask, dramatic part, character."

            Leila again. Andre, if you could answer my question?

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            "from Stacy, who has written a lot on that subject"

            When the going gets tough, eh? Let us also just note that quantity doesn't always = quality.

            "He uses the definition provided by Boethius"
            "The theologians adopted his definition for "person"

            And yet, when one opens the link, the very first thing one reads is (bolding mine):

            "Objection 1. It would seem that the definition of person given by Boethius (De Duab. Nat.) is insufficient--that is, "a person is an individual substance of a rationalnature." For nothing singular can be subject to definition. But "person" signifies something singular. Therefore person is improperly defined."

            Off to a bad start, I would think.

            Stacy (or St. Thomas, hard to tell) goes on:

            "The word is from the ancient Hellenistic Greek (etymology from the OED) πρόσωπον (prosopon) which means "face, countenance, mask, dramatic part, character."

            It seems to me that, when you're basing (at least in part) the word / concept of "person", on a word / concept that predates Christianity by hundred of years, that one can no longer say: "the entire concept of "person" comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity."

            Edited for quote-confusion-reduction

          • Leila Miller

            Aw, man! You got me! So let's change the wording to "the concept of 'personhood' as we know it today comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity", and then move along so that you can answer some questions about your intense interest in metaphysics: Could you please tell me why, as an atheist/materialist, you have an interest in metaphysics in general, and "personhood" in particular?

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            "So let's change the wording to "the concept of 'personhood' as we know it today comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity"

            I don't know if I would settle for anything less than "...comes [in part] out of..."

          • Leila Miller

            Hmm, not sure whether to call this "dodging" or "stonewalling", but either way, I am getting weary. If your point is to end our conversation, you're on the way. I don't blame you for trying to end this, but let me try one more time:

            Could you please tell me why, as an atheist/materialist, you have an interest in metaphysics in general, and "personhood" in particular?

            Thanks for either answering or not wasting my time anymore.

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            I'll answer questions that don't insult me by insinuating that atheist/materialists aren't interested in metaphysics, personhood, etc.

            Based on our past conversations, I'm surprised you haven't just stated my position for me. Progress of a kind, I suppose.

          • Leila Miller

            Aaaand, Andre dodges again. Sigh.

            Andre, if you read carefully, you will see that my question was why an atheist such as yourself would be so interested in metaphysics and personhood, not that you are interested. It is clear that all pro-"choice" atheists are way into the concept of "personhood" (to me it seems for obvious reasons, but here is your chance to set me straight and clarify for all readers). Can you answer the question of "why" for me? If not, have a nice day!

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            "It is clear that all pro-"choice" atheists are way into the concept of "personhood" (to me it seems for obvious reasons, but here is your chance to set me straight and clarify for all readers)."

            This is precisely the reason why I choose not to answer your questions on occasion. The idea that you could know, clearly, what a group of people think about a concept as complicated and nuanced as "personhood" is, quite frankly, ridiculous. That I choose not to dignify every query of yours on a site dedicated to reasoned dialogue is not a good example of dodging questions.

            That religious people have vocal, certain beliefs in matters of metaphysics and "personhood", and that we live in the same society as these people, would be reason enough for anyone to be interested.

          • Leila Miller

            Again, Andre, you have a chance to teach and clarify, and again you dodge. I can't figure out why? If an atheist gave me a question like that to answer, I'd answer. Even if I suspected a trap. (For the record, mine is not a trick question.)

            Let me try this in light of your most recent statement (I know, I said I would stop, but I am an optimist!): Is the only reason you are interested in personhood because religious people believe in metaphysics and personhood? Or do you believe in metaphysics and personhood yourself? If you do believe in metaphysics and personhood yourself, how is belief in metaphysics compatible with your atheism, and should metaphysics (as opposed to science) ever be the basis for decisions regarding human life and death?

            Ever hopeful, I am sincere in wishing you'd respond straight up. Or, if you cannot or will not, perhaps one of the other atheists here will.

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            "Is the only reason you are interested in personhood because religious people believe in metaphysics and personhood?"

            No.

            "Or do you believe in metaphysics and personhood yourself?"

            Yes, to the extent that I find many concepts interesting / relevant.

            "If you do believe in metaphysics and personhood yourself, how is belief in metaphysics compatible with your atheism"

            I don't see that there's anything inherently theistic or deistic about metaphysics or personhood. Certainly there are religious takes on those two that conflict with my beliefs, but
            no categorical incompatibility.

            "should metaphysics (as opposed to science) ever be the basis for decisions regarding human life and death?"

            Again, I'm not seeing the incompatibility you're suggesting. They are not mutually exclusive in my view.

            Now, what in the world do my views have to do with your claim about the origins of 'person'?

          • Leila Miller

            Thank you for straight answers! See, I'm learning. I figured that atheists dealt only in the empirical, the material. So, when determining what something is, they would look to science. You are saying that you do not fall in that category. I am glad. I love personhood, as personhood is connected to so much in my Christian worldview, both on the human level and the purely spiritual level (God, angels). We Christians have thought about persons since the beginning. But I have found that proponents of abortion seem to bypass the science of "who is human" and replace it with "what is personhood" in order to exclude some human beings from the ranks of "people" in order that they might be allowed to harm them.

            I just wonder what your response to that would be? And, what other metaphysical subjects interest you, besides personhood? I usually talk to atheists about "love" and they say it's merely a chemical reaction in the brain, for example. I can respect that. They stick with the material and scientific explanation and go no further. They base their reality on that, not the metaphysical understanding of love the way a religious person might see it.

            What do my views have to do with yours? You are taking a word or concept that elevated the dignity of all humans (to the level of the divine) and using it to exclude certain people from the human family in order to allow their killing. Why not just stick with science when it comes to life and death for others? Those who are humans get to live. The strong are not allowed to kill the weak.

            These are great human principles. And "personhood" should be a dignity and protection for all humans, not the tool for the demise of millions.

            Sorry, not time to proofread for clarity. I'm out the door.

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            Thanks for another example of why I'm selective in answering your questions. What does any of the above have to do with supporting the claim that: "the entire concept of "person" comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity." ... You know the only thing I asked about.

          • Leila Miller

            Wait, seriously? You are still on that *one* line (that you picked out of all the many, many points I had made in several comments to *another* commenter) that we (I assumed) had finished with many words ago? You either have an incredible amount of free time on your hands, or you are being disingenuous. Will there ever be a time that you will move on to answer other points? If not, take care.

          • Leila Miller

            I've thought better of my attitude towards you Andre, and I want to apologize. I should not accuse you of being disingenuous (I cannot read your heart). Forgive me.

            And for some weird reason, I am only just now seeing Stacy's comments and Andre's responses to her? I am very confused at how this commenting system works and why not everything can be seen when it should be seen. I wish I had known that Stacy was in the mix here!

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            I suppose I should thank you for the apology, though your phrasing leaves me wondering if you're apologizing merely for the accusation of being disingenuous, or realizing that I wasn't being disingenuous in the first place. I suspect it's the former. Hopefully you'll see it should be the latter.

            I wasn't interested in your views besides "that *one* line", which I found to be an incredible statement and was curious to see explained. That you feel any comment made in your direction is an invitation for you to cross-examine on a variety of other topics is not my problem. That so many words were exchanged is down to you always trying to play six-degrees of separation re: abortion, regardless of the initial topic.

            If you didn't want the conversation to drag on, you could have just answered my initial question, and not insisted on demanding answers to your questions which had nothing to do with mine. Instead you repeatedly accused me of dodging insulting questions, and when I finally did answer, you went on a rambling non-sequitur where you accused me of only being interested in justifying abortion. Which was weird, given that I hadn't really made any statements on that topic.

            Hope that clears it up.

          • Leila Miller

            Actually, yes, Andre, this clears up a lot. My apology was sincere and I assumed you'd take it. However, reading this rambling, unfortunate response to it makes it clear that I should not be engaging you in dialogue. Good luck to the others who choose to.

          • Longshanks

            That's true, we do live in a society.

          • StacyTrasancos

            I think what Leila means is that if you see all reality as the material world, then in keeping with that worldview, any living thing should only be viewed as a cloud of atoms. To ascribe metaphysical meaning to it requires abstraction beyond the material.

          • Andre Boillot

            Stacy,

            Even if that's what she did mean, it's got nothing to do with substantiating the claim that "the entire concept of "person" comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity."

          • StacyTrasancos

            Oh good heavens Andre! LOL.

            Andre, St. Thomas writes by addressing the possible objections first. He is not saying the definition is insufficient, he is saying that is a possible objection, and then he goes on in the "Reply to objection 1" to explain why it is a sufficient definition. You have to know how to read Aquinas, and you have to read more than the first few lines.

            There was no word for this concept. Boethius defined it. Theologians adopted it. That's where the word comes from.

          • Andre Boillot

            Stacy,

            "There was no word for this concept. Boethius defined it. Theologians adopted it. That's where the word comes from."

            You could probably argue that there was no word for the specific concept of "person", as would be palatable for the concept of the Trinity, but to say that "the entire concept of "person" comes out of the religious/theological discussions surrounding the definition of the Trinity", seems a bit of a stretch to me.

            LOL. TTYL. XOXO. :-). <3.

          • Andre Boillot

            Also, anyone with a brain (or sorting chronologically) will notice that, to the extent that anyone "dodged" in this discussion, you were the first to do so.

          • Leila Miller

            There are many comments back and forth (most of my questions go completely unanswered and I let most of it go). Tell me what question I "dodged" and I will happily address it. Please forgive me, I never mean to skip a question, but my brain gets lot of input and as I'm 46, sometimes something slips by. I don't mind if you keep asking the same question. It's never my intention to be slippery and make excuses for not answering.

          • Andre Boillot

            Leila,

            I was referring to how, instead of answering my question as to your claim re: 'person', you asked about my interest in metaphysics / personhood, as an atheist / materialist. Though, to be fair, you did begin to address my question when I ignored your dodge and asked again.

          • Leila Miller

            Andrew, just to add, I am looking forward to your addressing my other questions and comments, the ones numbered in a previous comment.

          • Andrew G.

            Did you not notice that those textbooks are the very ones mentioned in the quote I provided?

            Argument from textbook quotation is no different from arguing from dictionary definition. What matters is the reality, not what the book says; and the reality of human development is that it is a complex process. Trying to attach the label "human being" to a zygote and pretend that it means something is futile. (It's also an example of what has been called the "noncentral fallacy".)

            The important part is here, though:

            Shouldn't the fact that an embryo is a human being be the only concern for you?

            NO. BECAUSE WE CARE ABOUT THE MOTHER TOO.

          • Leila Miller

            Of course we care about the mother too. I am glad you acknowledge her as a mother. A mother implies that she has a child. We love them both, we don't pit them against each other.

            Of course "human development is a complex process". But don't you see? It's development of a human. A human is developing. Of course it means something to say that a zygote is a human being. It's fact. A fact of science. It is a being that is human. A human being. Were you ever conceived? I was. And I grew from there, just as I was supposed to. I developed, complexly (most complexly in my teen years!). But I was a human being at every stage.

            This is fact.

            And the principles that we must live by are simple: We do not willfully target innocent human beings for death. The weakest of our human family must not be killed by the strong. A mother should never be pitted against her child. We love them both.

          • Andrew G.

            Argument by repeated assertion will get you nowhere; I've pointed out that actual biologists reject your argument.

            Here is an example of the noncentral fallacy:

            P1. We should not look to criminals for moral guidance.
            P2. Martin Luther King was a criminal.
            C1. Therefore we should not look to King for moral guidance.

            Now, this example is chosen to make the fallacy clear; the essence of it is that we are taking two properties that are almost coextensive and ignoring the inequivalence. Almost all criminals are immoral people, making it easy to equivocate between "criminal" and "immoral criminal" while ignoring the marginal cases of people who were convicted of crimes despite acting morally.

            In the case of abortion, you are equivocating between "human being" in a biological sense based on what it develops into, and "human being with rights" in an ethical sense, without considering that there is an inequivalence and the marginal cases of "biological human without rights" actually do matter a great deal.

            To clarify why that is and what to do about it, you have to dig into the question of why we talk about "rights" in the first place. To make something more than a dictionary-definition argument, you need a meaningful account of rights that amounts to more than "because X said so". I will explain the salient features of the account that I favour, to provide a basis for discussion:

            We claim and recognize some things as "rights" because we have good grounds to believe two things: first, that they make for a better society (that is, one that we prefer to live in); and second, that they need to be established in such a way that they will resist improper or hasty attempts at change.

            The most important conclusions that this leads us to is that firstly, it's possible for a right to be wrong, that is for it to work against the goal of a better society; an example of this would be the USA's conception of a right to bear arms. Secondly, when defining rights, all available evidence about the consequences must be taken into account; this is one reason why many US court decisions have refused to recognize fetal rights, because once you grant rights to the fetus you inevitably grant virtually unlimited license to restrict the mother's rights.

          • Leila Miller

            Sorry, Andrew, but I don't see this:

            "I've pointed out that actual biologists reject your argument."

            Rejected my argument (science's argument) that a new human being is begun at conception? No, I've never seen that quote from any actual biologist that you have linked. Could you link an actual quote where a biologist actually says that a new human being is not begun at conception, but that a zygote is something other than a human being?

            Until then, you keep arguing metaphysical "personhood" (again, subjective opinion), trying to imply moral distinctions between human beings at different developmental stages, which I reject and which a biologist has no claim to. A biologist deals in biological fact, not philosophy, and he has left his field when he insists (from biology!) that some humans can be "ethically" killed by other, stronger humans.

            When I was homeschooling my sixth grade daughter some years back, I used a secular Harcourt science text. The chapter on Human Biology started with this sentence: "You began life as a single cell." Seems to me a very basic truth. Has there been a breakthrough in scientific knowledge since then? As I said, this was a mainstream, secular science text. What has changed?

            As for rights: No right trumps the right to life. The right to life is fundamental to all other rights, which should be obvious (how do we exercise our other rights if we are not alive?).

            To paraphrase your own comment: To make something more than a dictionary-definition argument, you need a meaningful account of rights that amounts to more than "because I want it".

          • Andrew G.

            "No right trumps the right to life" - really? What about overthrowing a dictator? Engaging in a just war?

            Until you recognize the difference between the biological and ethical senses of "human" I doubt we can make any progress. If you doubt that a difference exists, maybe you should go ask Beatriz.

          • StacyTrasancos

            Andrew, Unjustly killing someone doesn't remove the inalienable right to life, it violates that right, just as abortion does.

          • Andrew G.

            Missing the point?

            Suppose I'm the evil dictator of Lower Elbonia; I enforce my arbitrary and unjust decrees with a large staff of secret police, who drag any dissenters off to my torture chambers for my experienced pain technicians to work on (carefully keeping the subjects alive), with the results broadcast on public television screens to discourage any other potential dissenters. (I never need to resort to the death penalty.)

            Eventually one of my subjects gets sufficiently cheesed off to assassinate me. Was I killed justly, or unjustly? Was my right to life violated?

            (PS. still curious about the "thirds" thing.)

          • Leila Miller

            An unborn child is not an aggressor. He or she is the weakest, most voiceless, most defenseless among us. To compare a child in the womb to an enemy combatant, or a dictator, is a stretch to say the least. Even if you think the guilty have forfeited their right to life (after due process and a trial, which the unborn do not get), surely you can understand that the innocent have a right to their lives, correct? Because if the innocent don't have a right to life, then who does? Funny that the ones who want to deny life to others always think their life is worth protection. Bottom line, we don't kill innocent human beings. Period. Your whole premise is "I am bigger, smarter, better, so I can kill those who are less important or strong than I. A woman's right to (fill in the blank) takes precedent over another human being's very right to life."

            Tell me more about why a biologist should have a say in who lives or dies, "ethically"? I still don't understand. Isn't his job biology? Do you disagree with Harcourt, that "You began life as a single cell"? And if you don't disagree, then aren't all the "ethics" of which you speak merely ways of justifying the killing of fellow human beings who are "not like me"?

            Andrew: Were you ever a zygote?

          • Andrew G.

            "An unborn child is not an aggressor" -- again, tell that to Beatriz.

            Wasn't it you who started off by citing biology textbooks to support your position and claiming "science" was on your side? So now biologists should keep out of it? Consistency please?

            I do not justify abortion based on abstractions like "worth" or "innocence" or on relative importance or strength. I justify it on the basis that allowing women control over their bodies, healthcare decisions and medical risks, and reproduction is a social good, and that granting "rights" to unborn children is a social evil (which can be demonstrated to lead to all kinds of abuses - to quote the court in In re A.C., "Are you urging this court to find that you can handcuff a woman to a bed and force her to give birth?").

          • StacyTrasancos

            You did answer this --> Andrew: Were you ever a zygote?

          • Andrew G.

            There is no single adequate definition of "is" and "you" that allows a categorical answer to the question. If you know any philosophy you'll have encountered the Sorites Problem and the Ship of Theseus, both of which apply here.

            (In brief for anyone reading along: if I have a heap of beans, and take away a bean, I still have a heap. If I repeat until I eventually have 1 bean left, I no longer have a heap. At what point did the heap disappear? This is my grandfather's axe; my father replaced the head, and I replaced the shaft. Conclusion: the problem of personal identity isn't simple.)

          • Leila Miller

            Again, gestation is passive. No "force" is involved in gestating a baby. The only "force" would come with an abortionist forcing open a cervix prematurely and forcing a child (by killing it) out of the womb where it had been passively gestating.

            "So now biologists should keep out of it?"

            Not at all! I absolutely want biologists involved… on points of biology. Haven't I been clear? Biologists can speak on the level of science, but cannot legitimately speak on whether we are allowed to kill other human beings.

            Believe me, I get your position, I really do. I see that you feel the killing is justified by some noble notions. But it still basically boils down to: Strong humans get to kill weak humans.

            We are better than this, Andrew. There is a better way.

          • Andrew G.

            "gestation is passive" -- I'm sure that's very comforting to Beatriz, or to any of the women who died due to being denied medically necessary abortions.

          • Leila Miller

            Entire groups of medical doctors have come together to say that direct abortion is NEVER medically necessary to save the mother's life. Should we go there? That opens up a whole new discussion.

            And, should I give you the body count for women who have died from legal abortion? (Not to mention their children.) It's a huge and ugly subject as well.

            How bout we simply say: "Save them both, love them both. All human beings have the right to their lives." Wouldn't that be an incredible principle to live by? And should a child die in an attempt to save both mother and child, it would still be an unintended, indirect death, not a willed, direct killing. Again, should we open up that discussion (the principle of double effect)?

            With eight children home, I wish I had enough hours in the day. A lot of it is discussed on my blog (Little Catholic Bubble).

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Leila, I read through this conversation on abortion and think you've done a very commendable job from start to finish.

          • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

            I second that!

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'd like to present your comment yesterday on "Sex, Love and God" on what you'd rather eat an award but I don't know what to call it!

          • Leila Miller

            Aw, thanks Kevin!

          • Leila Miller

            Andrew, would it matter to you to know that the pro-abortion lobby has lied about the facts of Beatriz' case in order to advance their agenda? In addition to the fact that Beatriz was not in imminent danger of death (her own doctors said that she was stable and being monitored carefully), there are these inconvenient facts:

            http://realchoice.blogspot.com/2013/06/big-abortion-omits-crucial-fact-beatriz.html

          • Andrew G.

            That seems to be addressing a point that was not even in play at the time I last commented on this? (The comment you're responding to was posted sometime around the time of the final court judgement against Beatriz, but before any delivery had been reported)

            The issue in question is not the method or circumstances of delivery, but the fact that a woman's life was put at risk - regardless of the outcome - for no possible benefit.

          • Leila Miller

            Agreed, and sorry. I was out of town and the article was posted ten days after you wrote your comment. And yet, don't you think it's wrong that the abortion lobby still misrepresented the facts (and I'm guessing they still are)?

            No one wants women to be put at risk. But Beatriz was stable. Abortion comes with risks, too (including emotional risks that could last a lifetime -- I know so many friends who suffer severely, even decades later). And, since abortion is never necessary to save a mother's life, why would doctors go that route? "No possible benefit"? Well, some of us think that not violently ending the life of an innocent child -- not just a theoretical child, a real one -- is a "benefit" of caring for both the child and her mother, and not pitting one against the other.

          • Leila Miller

            Let me try it this way.

            What science can legitimately say:

            "Biologically, there are different stages and characteristics of human development…"

            What science cannot legitimately say:

            "…therefore, some groups of humans at certain stages of development are ethically allowed to kill other groups of humans at different stages of development."

          • Andrew G.

            What science cannot legitimately say:

            "…therefore, some groups of humans at certain stages of development are ethically allowed to kill other groups of humans at different stages of development."

            At last, a point of agreement! But only if you also agree with me that "science" as you define it (I limit it here to biology, because there is at least the potential for a science of ethics, which would complicate the issue more than I care to get into on a thread this long) also cannot legitimately say: "... therefore some groups of humans at certain stages are not ethically allowed to kill other groups of humans at different stages of development".

          • Leila Miller

            If I understand you correctly, then yes, let's agree. It's similar to science not legitimately being able to speak on the existence or non-existence of God. Let science stick to science. We can debate whether murder is good on the level of Natural Law, human dignity, philosophy and a well-formed conscience. (All of which would lead to a great big "NO, we may not kill innocent human beings. Period.")

            Now that we have agreed to keep biologists out of ethical questions of "may some humans be killed?", can you pass that along to the biologist you quoted who thinks it's okay to rank humanity in such a way? And never use that argument again? Thanks!

          • Andrew G.

            And never use that argument again?

            Uh, it was you that brought biology textbooks into it.

          • Leila Miller

            Uh, am I really being that unclear? I brought up biology textbooks because they talk about biology. I am thrilled if you want to talk about biology with regard to human... biology. So, please, let's talk human biology, textbooks and all! I've no problem with biologists talking about biology and the biological development of a human being. It's when they talk authoritatively of metaphysics (and posit a right to kill human beings) that they have crossed to a different field.

            A human being is begun at conception.

            Biology.

            "You began life as a single cell." (Harcourt Science)

            Biology.

            I hope it's clear now. Thanks!

          • Andrew G.

            But these facts are no longer relevant to the discussion, since we agreed that the biology did not determine the ethics either way.

          • Leila Miller

            Correct! But I am trying to get just a baseline, foundational agreement that the unborn are human beings. Just an acknowledgement of that fact is a huge, huge step. Most atheists want to say that being human matters not a bit, and jump to "personhood" (metaphysical).

            But atheists should stick with science. If a zygote is a human being (were you a zygote once? I was), then we can move to the discussion of HUMAN rights.

            Let's not go metaphysical about who is a member of the human family, let's stick with biology.

            Now we can move on to the ethical: Who gets HUMAN rights, if not humans? And, on what basis can one group of humans determine the worth of another group of humans? Don't we get into some real trouble if a human being's value is based on what others think?

            Clearly, you don't think a human being's worth is inherent. Do you see any ethical problems with the idea that human beings do not have inherent worth, and must be deemed worthy of life by other groups of humans (always the stronger ones)? Looking at history, there are troubling implications with such a philosophy and ethic, no?

          • Andrew G.

            I'm sorry, I refuse to cooperate in your attempt to deliberately equivocate between biologically-human and ethically-human. If you want to argue the biology then you must let the biologists have their say. If you want to argue the ethics then do so without trying to smuggle in the biology.

            Moving on to the ethical: adult humans who are not terminally brain-dead or PVS get human rights. Children old enough to understand the concepts involved get most human rights (for example, the right to bodily autonomy but not the right to vote). Born children get many human rights (right to life, right to medical care in civilized countries, etc., but not the right to refuse medical care when they're not competent to assess the consequences). This demonstrates that we do not grant rights on an all-or-nothing basis to all humans, but do so progressively by age.

            The debate is solely on whether the unborn child can be said to have rights when these conflict with the mother's. History and current events shows that every attempt to grant such rights leads to suboptimal outcomes, such as trying to police the conduct of pregnant women in case they do something harmful to the fetus, or denying medically indicated care to pregnant women, or forcing women to undergo unwanted caesarian sections, and so on. Accordingly, there is a high bar to meet to show that any such rights can be recognized.

          • Leila Miller

            "I'm sorry, I refuse to cooperate in your attempt to deliberately equivocate between biologically-human and ethically-human."

            I'm not equivocating. I am being very clear and precise: All human beings are persons. Biology says that human beings begin at conception. Someone who is biologically human is also "ethically" human (whatever that means!). Humans are humans. All humans are persons. No equivocation. The only equivocation comes when biologists slip fuzzily into arbitrary and subjective metaphysical arguments for why some human beings are less human than others, while still claiming to be doing science, giving their mere opinions the veneer of some kind of authority.

            Human rights are not the same as civil rights.

            "adult humans who are not terminally brain-dead or PVS get human rights…." According to whom, and on what authority?

            As to your last paragraph: Why do any other "rights" trump the foundational right to life? What right can be accessed if the very right to life is negotiable or negated? "Suboptimal outcomes" for women? I think the unborn human is the one who gets the granddaddy of "suboptimal outcomes" in an abortion, since he or she is the one who gets killed.

            And, as far as implying that abortion is healthy for women, I reject that implication. I know countless women who have been emotionally destroyed by abortion (and the lies told in those clinics). I'm not even going to go into the filth, death, lack of regulation, lack of concern for women by the abortion industry (it's a very, very lucrative business) that those of us in the pro-life movement have known about for years before the horrors of Gosnell (who is not an anomaly). I could link you to site after site, but you can start here with the "hero" Carhart:

            http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/more-than-6000-complaints-filed-against-carhart-over-third-trimester-aborti

            And then move on from there:

            http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/15423-another-house-of-horrors-gosnell-s-abortion-counterpart-in-texas

            And keep researching. Abortion is a filthy, deadly, lucrative business. Not pro-woman in the least.

            Anyway, I think we have reached our point of clarity and I am done here. I wish you well.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            I truly would like direct answers to my questions above.

            I have written a short blog post about that here: When Does a Fetus Become a Person? and in that I link to an article by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan that I recommend to all.

          • Leila Miller

            Thanks, Q. There are some problems with your arguments. For example, why are you making any distinction between a person and a human being? Why would one do such a thing, unless one seeks to be allowed to harm the "non-person" (always the weaker one)? And, when we do legitimately make distinctions among human beings ("child" vs. "adult" for example), we don't then use that distinction to justify killing one or the other. But that is how "personhood" is being used, when it's spoken of as distinct from "human being".

            As for miscarriages, they are like any other death by natural causes at any other stage of human life. Hopefully we can all easily understand the moral distinction between willful killing vs. death by natural causes. Grandma dying of cancer is not morally equivalent to Grandma dying of a carefully placed bullet to the back of her head. We can all make that distinction. But your article fails to do so.

            Let's say that one-third of all inhabitants of a desert island suddenly die of natural causes. Does that fact mean it's morally licit for someone to come in and murder all the healthy folks? That's the argument your post seems to be making: Justifying willful, direct targeted killing of human beings because some human beings of the same age die of natural causes (even in great numbers). Sorry, that is very faulty moral reasoning.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Thanks, Q. There are some problems with your arguments. For example, why are you making any distinction between a person and a human being? Why would one do such a thing, unless one seeks to be allowed to harm the "non-person" (always the weaker one)? And, when we do legitimately make distinctions among human beings ("child" vs. "adult" for example), we don't then use that distinction to justify killingone or the other. But that is how "personhood" is being used, when it's spoken of as distinct from "human being".

            Hi Leila, yes I don't consider a developing embryo to be a "person" because it does not exhibit the properties or behaviors we associate with being a person. I would not put it as "being allowed to harm a non-person," as much as having a goal of not harming a person. Also, I don't consider cells from a human being to be the same as the human being.

            As for miscarriages, they are like any other death by natural causes at any other stage of human life. Hopefully we can all easily understand the moral distinction between willful killing vs. death by natural causes. Grandma dying of cancer is not morally equivalent to Grandma dying of a carefully placed bullet to the back of her head. We can all make that distinction. But your article fails to do so.

            Early development is different from life after birth. I was establishing a context, not a justification. Because you are taking positions for religious reasons, I don't expect you to change those, but I do hope to explain to you why non-religious people are not likely to take up those positions. Those who don't believe in the supernatural don't believe in "ensoulment." One of the reasons is that the idea does not make much sense in the context of the tens of millions of human embryos that fail to develop every month. Over cumulative time, that is many many times the population of the whole world; where would those "souls," who were never people, go?

            Grandma did develop to being a person, and unless something like brain death takes that away from her, she is someone we would not like to see harmed. Everyone knows that if normal development does not go wrong, a fetus is expected to develop to viability and then birth, and somewhere along the line more and more of us will recognize a transition to "personhood." Different people will have different judgement calls for how much of that happens when, and in the tradeoff is the balance between the rights of the mother to control her own body, and the rights of the developing fetus to legal protection. I don't know anyone, religious or not, who thinks this is an easy call, or who would ever want to have to make it.

            If you want to consider a single fertilized human egg to be a full person with full human rights associated, you are entitled to hold that opinion, and I would respect your decision not discontinue your own pregnancy based on that opinion. However, you are not likely to convince anyone of that position who is not already holding it for religious reasons.

          • Leila Miller

            Drat, I had a whole comment and lost it all. Sigh. Here's a summary:

            Q., I never used a religious argument here. I never spoke of ensoulment. Ironically, you and the other atheists are the ones using a metaphysical, as opposed to scientific, argument to support your belief that some human beings can be killed. "Personhood" is not science, it's metaphysics. I'm arguing the science of it.

            Consider that while you will never find a "Secularists for the Trinity" group, you do find secularprolife.org. Being opposed to the killing of unborn children is not merely a religious issue, any more than being against murder in general (or rape, or stealing) is a religious issue. It is a human rights issue that non-religious folks embrace as well. Please give me the respect of arguing my actual points, not bringing up religious arguments when I have not done so.

            In the article you wrote, you compared death by natural causes to willful killing, and you compared them directly. I hope you will amend your article to make the distinction. Genocide has never meant "death by natural causes", and yet miscarriage (natural death) is compared to genocide? That makes no sense. There is no parallel.

            "Grandma did develop to being a person, and unless something like brain death takes that away from her, she is someone we would not like to see harmed."

            Actually, it could be that a society does want to see Granny harmed. It's of no matter, though, even if everyone in a society wants to see Granny harmed (or not). Granny's worth is inherent, not given to her by someone else. That's where you and I differ. The idea that one group of humans can determine the worth of another group of humans, to the point that the stronger group can order the killings of the weaker group, is unthinkable to me, no matter what stage of human development that human being is in.

            You claim, by your own opinion, that we may kill others based on "personhood" (a foundation that is metaphysical, subjective). I find that to be illogical. We should not kill others based on our subjective feelings about them.

            You asked, "where would those souls go?" as if they needed to be housed in a physical place. But souls are immaterial; they do not need "room" to go somewhere. Again, I only bring up souls because you did. I would prefer we stick to the material world, since we both believe that exists, and we can find common ground there.

            Thanks, Q.!

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Okay, Leila, as I said, I did not expect your opinion to change. I think I have explained my position to you as best I can.

          • Leila Miller

            Thanks, Q., and take care!

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Just to add a bit more perspective to what Andrew just wrote, the odds of making it (naturally) from conception to live birth are only somewhere in the 25% to 50% range (highest loss in the first few days). In the world, today, there are roughly 12 million live births every month. That means that somewhere between 12 million and 36 million fertilized human eggs or embryos or fetuses die every month as part of the natural process. Think about that, 12 to 36 million every month.

          • Michael Murray

            I find the fire retardant clothing reduces sensitivity.

          • TiltedHorizon

            LOL.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Leila Miller,

            But the choice you seem to be offering is between (1) condom use and (2) lifelong abstinence until marriage, and lifelong fidelity once a person marries. Those who use condoms may or may not do so "correctly and consistently." But very few practice abstinence "correctly and consistently" no matter how ardently they commit themselves. Here are some interesting recent statistics:

            Only 23% of females in the current report say they were married before living with their significant other - a decrease from 30% in 2002, and down from 39% in 1995.

            Additionally, almost 75% of women 30 years of age or younger reported living with a partner who they were not married to at one point in their lives, compared with 70% in 2002, and 62% in 1995, according to the research.

            I saw a survey recently (which I cannot track down at the moment, but will keep looking) that even Catholics and Evangelicals are far more likely to have sex before marriage than not. The percentages, as I recall, were in the high 80s.

            So people who are encouraged to use condoms may not do so consistently and correctly, but people who are encouraged to practice abstinence certainly do not do so consistently and correctly! You might respond that people can practice abstinence if they really commit to it. But the fact of the matter is that they don't. Measured by what people do in real life, abstinence doesn't "work."

          • Leila Miller

            It's certainly true that people have had sex outside of marriage since forever. But societal norms and messages (and religious beliefs) have a lot to do with mitigating that. The question is: Do we hold the higher standard, or do we keep lowering it while telling our ever-younger sex-participants: "Just be sure to use that condom consistently and correctly!" It's the nose-diving standards that trouble me. It's not surprising that we have seen the hook-up culture (and STDs) explode among young people.

            Honestly, when I was a Planned Parenthood client as a teen, secretly squirreling away birth control pills so that I could have sex with my pot-smoking loser boyfriend, I knew that the "adults" in the room were simply my accomplices in fooling my parents and helping me do things that no teen should be doing. Kids are not stupid. They understand when adults think they really cannot do better. I feel like the adults today are all arrested adolescents. Kids need grown-ups to guide them, with wisdom, not a wink and a condom.

            Before we patch everything up with latex, we really should try societal standards. All of the current culture (TV, movies, music, art, higher academics) encourages sexual experimentation and even promiscuity (did you catch Planned Parenthood's "embrace the word 'slut'" video for teen girls?). This harms children, especially girls. We know that societal pressure has worked well in discouraging smoking, but why do we deny it could work regarding sex?

            I tried going the "standards" route for my kids (for Catholics, it's teaching the beautiful virtue of chastity, not "abstinence"), and I really wondered if it would work. I knew theoretically it should, but I was truly astonished by how well it worked! My kids' lives have been very different than mine, and it was not so hard to guide them. Why not go back to standards for all kids (the most vulnerable, from broken or abusive homes, are the ones who need society to stand strong the most!)? Just because some will fall is no reason to lower expectations. The higher the bar is set, the more will rise to meet it. It's human nature, and the human spirit is incredible!

            I just think we really sell our kids short, and it's sad to me.

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            I was attempting (and apparently I failed) to make what I think is a simple point. In actual practice, the rate of people using condoms "consistently and correctly" may be considerably short of 100%. But the Catholic Church preaches (1) abstinence outside of marriage and (2) fidelity within marriage. If we judge condoms not by their theoretical effectiveness but by how they are actually used, then we must also judge abstinence and fidelity by how they are actually practiced. And abstinence and fidelity in actual practice are the exception rather than the rule.

            The approach of the Catholic Church to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is, by any measure, a dismal failure in actual practice. Sure, if everyone refrained from all sex outside of marriage and was entirely faithful within marriage, AIDS would be stopped cold. But that is simply not how people behave, and people aren't going to start behaving that way.

            It should also be noted that the Catholic Church not only opposes condom use because in some cases it thinks it is ineffective. The Catholic Church opposes condom use where it has proven very effective. I think it is safe to say that the Catholic Church would oppose condom use if it were the "magic bullet" that could end AIDS in a generation.

          • Jill
    • TiltedHorizon

      Truth be told, Jill was part of an organized flame-SPAMing, which took to abusing the forum guidelines in the form of inflammatory comments and arbitrary down-voting of all comments. The reason all her post and that of the others were removed is because one individual, for the record not Jill, threatened another member repeatedly using comments like "You deserve to be raped!".

      All of Jill's posts after the initial block are intact.

      • Mark Hunter

        Thanks

        • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

          It is difficult to keep blog comments at a high level when some people treat attempts at discussion as a clash of street gangs. Hemant Mehta does a good job in a tough circumstance.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Well if her comments over there went along the lines they have here, it's not very surprising she got moderated off the site. Which, incidentally raises the question, in view of the moderation debate here previous to her arrival, is, why hasn't she been moderated here yet?

  • Ben

    Here's the thing I don't get: if people are really excited or confused about what the Pope said, why can't someone just ask him to explain what he meant? Why are we treating this like a cryptic utterance requiring reams of interpreation and speculation? This isn't like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls or something in a cave, we know where the man lives, and he has a great secretarial and public relations staff. For that matter, I think he might even have a twitter account.

  • http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/babinski-bio.html EdwardTBabinski

    Will your site be discussing Catholic Christian universalism? Origin? Julian of Norwich? Hans Urs von Balthasar's "Love alone is credible" point of view? Or how about the idea advocated by Ratzinger, Schillebeeckx, de Lubac, Balthasar, and Kung, that some people can be "anonymous Christians?"

    Here are some books on the topic:

    Patristic Universalism: An Alternative to the Traditional View of Divine Judgment

    Barth, Origen, and Universal Salvation: Restoring Particularity

    Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner (Oxford Theological Monographs)

    Love Alone Is Credible: Hans Urs von Balthasar as Interpreter of the Catholic Tradition (Ressourcement: Retrieval & Renewal in Catholic Thought)

    The Salvation of Atheists and Catholic Dogmatic Theology (Oxford Theological Monographs)

  • CK Chesterton

    What a great job of explaining this, Brandon! Thanks!

  • James Lee

    Apology NOT accepted. Your twisted interpretation does NOT even BEGIN to pass the smell test.

    Trying to devise a wedge between the meaning of redemption and salvation is totally bogus, dude. Back up and try again if you think it is worth the trouble.

    Francis was in effect just reiterating and paraphrasing following truth:

    "When asked by a non-Jew to relate all the Torah had to say while standing on one foot, Hillel replied, "Do not unto your neighbor what you would not have him do until you; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary."

    THAT is the truth. If your sectarian religious opinion goes against that, then your sectarian religious opinion is obviously wrong-headed.

    And have a nice day.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Jame, before commenting, please review our Comment Rules. Your comment has been deleted for failing to show a basic level of charity.

  • Cathy R.

    Brandon, The part of the HuffPo article I found to be troubling was " We must meet each other doing good. 'but I don't believe Father, I am an atheist' but do good: We will meet each other there." What does Pope Francis mean by "there" does that mean heaven? I got really depressed when I read this because it sounds like a return to the "I'm okay, you're okay" kind of Catholicism of the 70's. I hope that this is not what Francis meant, but it sure is being interpreted that way. :-(

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Cathy, no he was not referring to heaven. What he meant was that even though Catholics and atheists stand apart on many critical beliefs, we at least share a mutual passion for justice. So the two can join together and meet in support of moral causes.

      • Cathy R.

        Thanks Brandon, too bad we didn't have a complete, unedited, version of Pope Francis's homily because the liberal press & liberal Catholics are beginning to say that everyone goes to heaven (even atheists). Nice to hear that the Pope is not changing doctrine (but many people, don't know that he can't).Sigh!
        BTW nice new site! Praying that it will be able to reach the younger generation - my teen daughter has many friends who have been raised with no faith (they call themselves Atheists). She also says that they are pretty "dark" & unhappy. I also know some other people (older) who are also without hope as a result of no connection with God (they just don't know it). My heart breaks for these young people.

      • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

        Is it credible that Pope Francis was merely saying atheists are redeemed, but if they do not become Catholics they are not saved? Catholics and atheists can agree that we must all do good rather than evil, but Catholics who do good will go to heaven, and atheists who do good all their lives but die as atheists will go to hell?

        Cathy R is worried that "the liberal press & liberal Catholics are beginning to say that everyone goes to heaven (even atheists)." Is your response intended to reassure her that no atheist can go to heaven?

        Certainly the Church doesn't teach that all human beings will ultimately be saved, although I am not at all sure that that is "infallibly" ruled out. But, also certainly, the Church does not teach that no atheist can be saved, or that no one who is not a Christian (or not a Catholic) can be saved.

        There seem to be some who have written messages here who claim that "Outside the Church there is no salvation" really does mean that no one other than Catholics are saved. I thought that view was definitively condemned many decades ago.

        It just seems incredible to me that Pope Francis brought up the issue of atheists doing good to make the point that they can do good, but they are going to hell

        • articulett

          Everybody is going to hell according somebody's religion because lots of religions believe that only members of their faith are saved.

          But don't worry, we atheists don't worry about Catholic hell any more than you worry about Muslim hell. It doesn't look good for theists though when they seem to "want" people to suffer eternal torment for not believing the same magic stories that they believe-- moreover, it makes your god look evil.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Don't you find it odd that people will sit around thinking up the very worst idea of Hell, in anticipation that that will attract people to join their religion?

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            Don't you find it odd that people will sit around thinking Hell was invented to attract people?

            If you want to attract people, tell them they are animals, can party to their heart's content, and when they die there is nothing at all that matters one way or the other.

            That's the easiest sell in history.

            It has one notable problem:

            It is manifestly false.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            It has one notable problem:

            It is manifestly false.

            Got evidence?

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            Yes.

            The Resurrected Christ, seen alive by hundreds, preached to thousands, who then converted millions, who became the first and only universal Faith of human history (*as prophesied from the beginning*).

            For starters ;-)

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            The Resurrected Christ, seen alive by hundreds, preached to thousands, who then converted millions, who became the first and only universal Faith of human history (*as prophesied from the beginning*).

            What evidence would you present, outside of legend, that these events are not fictional? Hasn't Islam also "converted millions" with a contradictory message from their scripture? Would you accept "evidence" that the peoples discovered by Columbus were the descendants of the Tribes of Israel because it says so in the Book of Mormon?

            If you want people outside the bubble of faith to come to believe something you tell us is true, you need to start with evidence based on objective facts that can be tested outside of faith. Got any?

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "What evidence would you present, outside of legend, that these events are not fictional?"

            >> The continuity in existence of the Church from the day of its inception to this day; a matter rather difficult to account for on any alternative hypothesis, as we have seen.

            "Hasn't Islam also "converted millions" with a contradictory message from their scripture?"

            >> Certainly. But this is irrelevant to the question under examination.

            Your question concerns the necessary existence of Hell.

            This cannot be established by ascending to heaven upon a horse.

            Mohammed is not reported, even by his followers, to have risen from the dead.

            Christ, on the other hand, has been reported by his followers to have risen from the dead.

            "Would you accept "evidence" that the peoples discovered by Columbus were the descendants of the Tribes of Israel because it says so in the Book of Mormon?"

            >> I would accept it as testimony, certainly. An examination of the testimony reveals no evidence of the civilization reported in the Book of Mormon.

            Testimony false.

            S9ince a similar examination of the Catholic Church reveals incontrovertible evidence of the geographical, historical, empirical and tangible continuance of the Church, your analogy fails.

            "If you want people outside the bubble of faith to come to believe something you tell us is true, you need to start with evidence based on objective facts that can be tested outside of faith. Got any?"

            >> Yes. The Resurrected Christ, seen by hundreds, preached to thousands, who converted millions, who established the first and only truly universal Faith (as was prophesied from the beginning).

            For starters ;-)

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine
            "What evidence would you present, outside of legend, that these events are not fictional?"

            >> The continuity in existence of the Church from the day of its inception to this day; a matter rather difficult to account for on any alternative hypothesis, as we have seen.

            You will have a hard time with that "continuity" thing. If you check history you will find that the "Church" part of the religion took centuries to stabilize to something with continuous theology and doctrine. The winners wrote their own history.

            But if it were continuous, why would that make it true? The Egyptians had beliefs about their deities that went for thousands of years, but were not true. If length of continuity counted for truth, the Jews would have you beat, the Zoroastrians would probably have them beat, and the aboriginal religions of Australia have you all beat.

            How long a tale has been told is not evidence of the truth of the events related. Got evidence that you can show was not made up along the way?

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            "You will have a hard time with that "continuity" thing."

            >> To the contrary. The continuity is an empirical certainty. It is *you* who has a problem with it; that is, you must explain it in accordance with your hypothesis that Jesus never:

            a) existed, or
            b) rose from the dead

            Since I assert He did both things, the continuity is a perfectly logical consequence.
            ***
            "If you check objective history you will find that the "Church" part of the religion took centuries to stabilize to something with continuous theology and doctrine. The winners wrote their own (Church) history."

            >> Your problem is that the winners existed to write the history, and the history is the empirical evidence which you insist I provide.

            It appears you now advance the remarkable proposition that, while you admit the existence of the history, you wish to bar it from consideration on grounds that...well......on grounds that you don't like it, or something.

            Flunk :-)

            "But if it were continuous, why would that make it true?"

            >> It renders your objection falsified; that is, you cannot account for the existence, continuity, and present-day empirical fact of the Church, on your proposed grounds that:

            a) Jesus never existed, or
            b) He never rose from the dead

            The historical *evidence* is abundant that He did both.

            This is your problem :-)

            "The Egyptians had beliefs about their deities that went for thousands of years, but were not true."

            >> But this is irrelevant. The fact that all religions are false, or else all but one are, does include the l;ogical possibility that all but one are.

            The catholic proposes that all but one are, and points to the Resurrection of Christ- an historical event- as an explanation for the *fact* that the Church has, in fact, become the first and only universal religion of humanity, *just as Christ said it would*.

            "If length of continuity counted for truth, the Jews would have you beat, theZoroastrians would probably have them beat, and the aboriginal religions of Australia have you all beat."

            >> No. It is the institution that persists- the Catholic Church, founded on the Rock (Peter), persisting through time in the form of a body of believers in communion with his successors.

            The Catholic Church is the oldest continuously operating institution of the human race.

            This is consistent with the claims of its earliest adherents, to have received incontrovertible proof of its supernatural origins, in the form of eyewitness proof of His resurrection from the dead.

            "How long a tale has been told is not evidence of the truth of the events related. Got evidence that you can show was not made up along the way?"

            >> Sure. The continued existence, spread, and growth of the Church, as the first universal Faith ever seen to arise among human beings, *just as Christ foretold*.

            For starters ;-)

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            For starters ;-)

            Rick, your circularity is a non-starter. You are claiming that Jesus arose from the dead because there is a long tradition that says so, and that the tradition is true because Jesus arose from the dead.

            Thanks for putting your view in the thread as it gives people reading a clear picture of that position.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            Actually, Quine, the non-starter is the notion that the only universal Faith in the history of humanity can be accounted for in the absence of its Founder's ever existing in the first place.

            I understand that "something from nothing" is a very persistent form of mental illness just now, especially among atheists, but I do insist that it is inadmissible as an account for the existence of humanity's largest, and only universal, continuously operating religious institution.

          • severalspeciesof

            Rick, there wasn't 'something from nothing' being claimed here. There was at least the writings of Paul to start with...

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            OK.

            So, Paul made the whole thing up, and got James to be the brother of the guy he made up, even though Paul was persecuting James and seeking his arrest at the time.......

            Sigh.

            Look, if you want to believe something, you are going to believe it.

            Be my guest.

            I am simply here to point out the massively simpler, more logical, and consistent option:

            Jesus did exactly what the eyewitnesses tell us He did, which explains everything that happened afterward with that sort of precision that provides excellent grounds upon which to reject the proposed alternatives.

          • severalspeciesof

            Stop this placement of words that don't even exist into other people's posts as though they said them. I never said Paul made the 'whole' thing up. Can you even contemplate that things are grey, that it's not an all or nothing situation, regarding history?

          • severalspeciesof

            Let me rephrase what I said Rick.. Don't make assumptions about what others are thinking, then stating them solely to bolster you own argument...

          • physicistdave

            Rick deLano wrote:
            > I am simply here to point out the massively simpler, more logical, and consistent option:
            >Jesus did exactly what the eyewitnesses tell us He did, which explains everything that happened afterward with that sort of precision that provides excellent grounds upon which to reject the proposed alternatives.

            And, of course, by precisely the same “logic,” one could say:

            “I am simply here to point out the massively simpler, more logical, and consistent option:

            “Hercules did exactly what the eyewitnesses tell us He did, which explains everything that happened afterward with that sort of precision that provides excellent grounds upon which to reject the proposed alternatives.”

            Personally, I think I will worship Hercules: nicer guy, more fun adventures, and at least as credible as “:Son of God,” with his secret identity as Yeshua, son of Yusuf.

            (Anyone else remember the old Nat Lamp “Son of God” cartoons? Why can’t some major producer follow up the coming Thor movie with a movie based on Nat Lamp’s Son of God?)

            Rick, I do not know if you are having fun, but this turkey shoot is sure fun for the rest of us!

          • physicistdave

            Rick deLano wrote:
            > the non-starter is the notion that the only universal Faith in the history of humanity...

            It’s not universal, Rick. Not even a majority of the human race. (Yeah, yeah, I know: You Christians don’t mean “universal” as most people mean “universal.” But, change it to mean “on all continents,” or something of the sort, and then you have Islam, too.)

          • severalspeciesof

            This is really bad reasoning. For the most part it is circular. You cannot say that because a book says it is true (or an organization), that therefore that is the evidence that it is true. You haven't provided contemporary outside historical evidence. No one has.

          • severalspeciesof

            Oh, I see that Quine has said pretty much the same thing...

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            The evidence is logical, sev.

            The argument is quite solid, and depends upon no book, organization, or historical evidence whatever.

            Let's walk it through step by step.

            See if you can find any step which does not hold true:

            Whatever comes into being or goes out of being does not have to be; nonbeing is a real possibility.

            Suppose that nothing has to be; that is, that nonbeing is a real possibility for everything.

            Then right now nothing would exist. For

            If the universe began to exist, then all being must trace its origin to some past moment before which there existed—literally—nothing at all. But

            From nothing nothing comes. So

            The universe could not have begun.

            But suppose the universe never began. Then, for the infinitely long duration of cosmic history, all being had the built-in possibility not to be. But

            If in an infinite time that possibility was never realized, then it could not have been a real possibility at all. So

            There must exist something which has to exist, which cannot not exist. This sort of being is called necessary.

            Either this necessity belongs to the thing in itself or it is derived from another. If derived from another there must ultimately exist a being whose necessity is not derived, that is, an absolutely necessary being.

            This absolutely necessary being is God.

          • severalspeciesof

            What in the world has ANY of that have to do with Jesus rising from the dead?

          • physicistdave

            Rick deLano wrote:

            > If in an infinite time that possibility was never realized, then it could not have been a real possibility at all.

            The amusing thing is that I think you actually believe that statements like that are “rational” in the same sense that science and math are rational.

            And, I am quite certain that you will never choose to learn enough science and math to learn the error of your ways.

            You go, boy! You are my empirical proof of what Christianity really is.

          • physicistdave

            Rick,

            It occurs to me that, in accord with the principle of charity, someone should try briefly to explain to you why your argument is not a logical argument, rather than just being amused at your expense, even though I know you are not likely to be grateful for the effort.

            So, for example, let’s take your claim:
            > From nothing nothing comes.

            That is certainly not a theorem of first-order predicate logic. Nor is it an Aristotelian syllogism.

            It is certainly the case that, empirically, something does not come from nothing very often – it is, say, as rare as bodily Resurrections. But bodily Resurrections are, I am sure you will agree, not logically impossible and something coming from nothing does not violate the axioms of firs-order predicate logic either (of course, the problem is that “coming from” is a relation not intrinsically built in to logic, so that, logically speaking, that relation’s properties are wide open).

            And, the even bigger problem is that the universe is a rather different sort of “thing” than we commonly deal with, so, if our empirical experience vis a vis “nothing comes from nothing” does break down, it is precisely with such an unusual “thing” as the universe, that it might break down.

            Indeed, we know that this sort of thing happens in set theory: the set of all sets, the so-called set-theoretic universe, cannot exist inside the theory (this is a provable theorem, by the way: there does not exist a set U such that
            for all x, x is an element of U). If you do not believe this... well, check out the Burali-Forti paradox, the Cantor paradox, etc.

            So, the very idea of treating the universe as itself being an entity is known to fail in set theory, and is therefore doubly suspect in the real world.

            Or take your claim that I earlier lampooned:
            > If in an infinite time that possibility was never realized, then it could not have been a real possibility at all.

            I trust that you agree that it is possible that Rick deLano could have been an atheist, but that you also hope and expect that for all of the infinite time to come, this possibility will not be realized. This is a counter-example to your claim. (Yes, yes, I know all about actually-realized infinity vs. potential infinity, etc. Actual logical reasoning
            should not depend on a complex and highly debatable theory of infinity, which is, anyway, provably wrong just by using Zeno’s paradox.)

            Worse than that, though, it is not clear that “possible” really is meaningful outside of a particular set of formal constraints: e.g., it makes sense to say that perpetual-motion machines are impossible given Newton’s laws, i.e., within the formal constraints provided by Newton’s laws.

            But, try to work out a formulation of “possible,” “necessary,” etc. tout court, and, well, let’s just say there is no such formulation built into standard logic. Again, I am well aware that people have played such games in “modal logic,” in “possible-worlds” metaphysics, etc. but to put it mildly, such intellectual structures are certainly not obviously correct, nor are they available to the ordinary educated person (or, of course, to Aristotle or Aquinas). So, again to be diplomatic, if you are relying on such complex and highly debatable philosophical constructions, you are not presenting an argument that is very convincing: it is then at most as convincing as these highly controversial philosophical constructions – i.e., not very convincing at all.

            Similarly, you write:
            > Either this necessity belongs to the thing in itself or it is derived from another.

            Well... you can see how propositions derive their necessities from other propositions in certain systems of modal logic. But a “thing” deriving its necessity from “another”?

            You need a long detailed system of modal logic to even give sense to this, and that system is again certain to be controversial and debatable.

            I could go and on: I’ve been studying the foundations of logic for nearly fifty years and I therefore know a lot more than you about all this.

            But, the bottom line is that the logical constructions you would need to change your chain of assertions into an actual logical argument are even more provisional and controversial than the claims themselves.

            At any rate, this sort of hairsplitting logic has proven unfruitful in studying the real world – i.e., in math, science, critical history, etc. That does suggest that this whole way of approaching matters is probably unwise.

            I know, I know: you will launch a string of invective at me (contrary to Brandon’s posting rules, but he will of course let you get away with it, since you are his co-religionist) saying how ignorant I am, what a failure I am, how
            arrogant I am (although I make no presumption to creating a logical argument leading to or from God!), etc. And, of
            course, I have failed to see the roots of your argument in Aquinas, and I am unfit to lick Aquinas’ shoes, or whatever.

            As you wish.

            But, I do think I have shown here to any honest person that your proposed “argument” fails massively and in a way that you yourself certainly cannot repair, given your lack of knowledge of technical fields such as logic.

            Now, go ahead and flame me as you wish! You do seem to enjoy that.

            Dave

          • Michael Murray

            Thanks for that Dave. You should be beatified for patience! I've never got a grip on modal or very much logic at all. An embarrassing confession for a practicing pure mathematician!

          • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

            Here's a question. Is there such a "thing" as nothing for something to come from? And is it the position of modern physics that something comes from nothing? Lawrence Krauss, if I recall correctly, has been criticized for his book A Universe from Nothing for considering totally empty space as nothing. He acknowledges that it is not nothing, but that to people like Aquinas, it would be pretty close to what they meant by nothing. So from the viewpoint of contemporary cosmology, our universe came from what at one time might have been considered nothing, but modern cosmology doesn't consider the origin of our universe from the Big Bang to be the appearance of something from absolutely nothing (defined in some kind of philosophical sense of the absence of space, time, virtual particles, etc.).

            For a materialist, it seems to me the concept of absolute nothing would be meaningless. There is no such thing. And something can't really come from absolute nothing, but physics and cosmology don't claim that it ever did.

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            dave:

            Thanks for your charitable attempt; I am also motivated strictly by charity; that is, a human being is reduced to madness by means of inserting into his or her mind the proposition:

            "Something can come from nothing".

            The above statement is barking madness.

            To advance this proposition seriously is to make oneself into a madman, with whom further rational discourse were impossible.

            Now it doesn't matter if we qualify this, perhaps with:

            "It doesn't happen very often. Hardly at all, actually. Almost never. But every once in a while, just, sort of, highly unusually, out of............nothing........pops.....something."

            Now we need to be very clear, very precise here.

            This notion that, occasionally, not very often, in fact hardly at all, something pops out of nothing, is madness.

            This particular axiom of madness is the key to understanding modern atheism, both in terms of its impact upon the mind of the atheist, and also in terms of its impact upon upon the civilization which is unable to innoculate itself against the axiom of madness:

            "Something comes from nothing. Every once in a while".

            It is true that the atheist has no alternative in the end, he must insist that something- not very often, hardly at all, but every once in a great while- something comes from nothing, take this away from the atheist and he has nothing left. Literally :-)

            So, since you are convinced in conscience that logic entitles you to insist that something comes from nothing, and since I am convinced in conscience that this is not only a falsehood, but is indeed a form of mental illness, we have established *our* predicates.

            We proceed from diametrically opposed *axioms*.

            You propose an axiom of madness:

            "Something comes from nothing".

            I propose an axiom of sanity:

            "Nothing comes from nothing."

            This is the actual point at issue between the theist and the atheist, in terms of the argument referenced.

            This is the whole ballgame.

            Thanks for playing.

            ******

            DAVE: "So, for example, let’s take your claim:

            > From nothing nothing comes.

            That is certainly not a theorem of first-order predicate logic. Nor is it an Aristotelian syllogism."

            >> These statements are both true.

            These statements are also both irrelevant.

            Predicate logic pertains to *things*.

            That is to say, there is no predicate logic which can produce something from nothing.

            To propose that there exists a predicate logic which can produce something from nothing is barking madness.

            Logic cannot operate on nothing.

            That is because from nothing nothing comes.

            *********

            DAVE: "It is certainly the case that, empirically, something does not come from nothing very often"

            >> No. That is incorrect. It is incorrect to say that "something does not come from nothing very often".

            That is barking madness.

            Here is the corrective:

            From nothing nothing comes.

            ***********

            DAVE: – it is, say, as rare as bodily Resurrections.

            >> No. This is also incorrect. Bodily Resurrections are quite rare, but they are not impossible per se.

            We have excellent evidence of at least one of these having actually occurred, empirically.

            But whether one accepts the empirical evidence as sufficient, or declines to accept it as sufficient, a Bodily Resurrection involves something coming from something.

            It is not, however unusual, something that involves barking madness, such as the axiom:

            "Something comes from nothing."

            **********

            DAVE: But bodily Resurrections are, I am sure you will agree, not logically impossible

            >> We do agree.

            DAVE: "and something coming from nothing does not violate the axioms of firs-order predicate logic either (of course, the problem is that “coming from” is a relation not intrinsically built in to logic, so that, logically speaking, that relation’s properties are wide open)."

            >> No. This is barking madness. The corrective is this:

            First order predicate logic is useless in the attempt to establish the axiom of madness:

            "Something comes from nothing."

            There is no predicate, no operation, of logic which can ever be employed to get something from nothing.

            DAVE:L “coming from” is a relation not intrinsically built in to logic, so that, logically speaking, that relation’s properties are wide open

            >> It is true that "coming from" is not a relation built into logic. This is because logic itself is impossible, once the axiom of madness is adopted:

            "Something comes from nothing".

            This axiom of madness is not intrinsic to logic, because it is the death of all logic, all reason, all science, all philosophy, all arithmetic............

            To propose that something comes from nothing- not very often, of course, just often enough to.....you know.......wiggle off the hook of the whole God thing......

            Is to propose that no logic, no science, no reason, can ever explain anything at all.

            No matter how logical, how scientific, how reasonable one might be, it will all be to no avail since something can just...pop up out of nothing, and turn 2 plus 2 into 5, or your first born son into a bowl of Count Chockula.

            This is an axiom of madness.

            It is profoundly evil to attempt to defend it; of course no rational person will ever adopt it, but what about the weak minded?

            Shameful.
            ********

            DAVE: And, the even bigger problem is that the universe is a rather different sort of “thing” than we commonly deal with,

            >> It is not in any way different in this exact respect:

            It is a thing.

            It is not a nothing.

            It is a something.

            Therefore it cannot have come from nothing.

            To propose that a thing comes from nothing is to barking madness.

            **************

            DAVE: so, if our empirical experience vis a vis “nothing comes from nothing” does break down, it is precisely with such an unusual “thing” as the universe, that it might break down.

            >> But this is absurd. There is no difference between a universe, and a bowl of Count Chockula, in this exact respect:

            A universe is a thing.

            It is not nothing.

            A bowl of Count Chockula is a thing.

            It is not nothing.

            Therefore neither a universe, nor a bowl of Count Chockula, can just sort of....you know....pop into existence every once in a while.

            To propose the contrary is barking madness.
            ***********

            DAVE: Indeed, we know that this sort of thing happens in set theory:

            >> This is false. There is no operation of set theory which allows nothing to generate something.

            DAVE: the set of all sets, the so-called set-theoretic universe, cannot exist inside the theory (this is a provable theorem, by the way: there does not exist a set U such that for all x, x is an element of U). If you do not believe this... well, check out the Burali-Forti paradox, the Cantor paradox, etc.

            >> This is perfectly true.

            It is also completely irrelevant.

            DAVE: So, the very idea of treating the universe as itself being an entity is known to fail in set theory, and is therefore doubly suspect in the real world.

            >> Instead, the very idea of treating the universe as a set theoretic object is known to fail in set theoretic theory, as well as in the real universe, and so the ridiculous notion that reality is equal to a logical system comprised of sets is shown to be barking madness also.

            But we have known this since Godel.

            At this point, having established that the universe declines to obey your set theoretical logic (even your set theoretic logic tells you that much), and having established that your axiom of madness:

            "Something comes from nothing"

            Is not derivable from either predicate logic or set theoretical logic, nor can it be observed empirically, I believe we can take a moment to examine whether your fifty years of study of the foundations of logic might be of some assistance in examining the arguments by which your axiom of madness:

            "Something comes from nothing"

            Might be best triaged and quarantined.

          • http://bywayofbeauty.com/ Matthew Becklo

            Hey Rick - Please review the "Commenting Rules and Tips" section of Strange Notions, especially 3, 4, and 7. Comments like this, which run on far too long and needlessly attack or insult another's views (e.g., calling it "madness" no less than 19 times) will be deleted in the future. Thanks!

          • http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/ Rick DeLano

            You're welcome, Matthew!

            Thanks for the hospitality, I'll be moving along now.

            "Something comes from nothing"-

            I leave it to you to find a way to dialogue with that :-)

          • http://bywayofbeauty.com/ Matthew Becklo

            Hey Dave - FYI, I did warn Rick below to review our commenting rules. We are committed to fostering thoughtful, charitable dialogue, and will be unbiased in moderating comments. But please note that some of your statements in this thread are also not in keeping with our rules. Insulting, sarcastic comments and ad hominem attacks will be deleted, and could result in a ban from the site if they are persistent. Thanks!

          • Michael Murray

            From nothing nothing comes.

            No you've got the lyric wrong.

            Nothing comes from nothing
            Nothing ever could
            So somewhere in my youth or childhood
            I must have done something good

            She's a nun so she must be right.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            It appears you now advance the remarkable proposition that, while you admit the existence of the history, you wish to bar it from consideration on grounds that...well......on grounds that you don't like it, or something.

            Well, for something, watch this program that presents a Jewish view of the first century Jesus. There may be other views as well, but what I have not been given, by you or anyone else, is objective evidence in support of the assertion that what is portrayed in scripture of the supernatural life of Jesus, actually happened.

          • articulett

            I think it's much more odd to imagine a god being involved in such mind games or inventing a place of eternal torment.

          • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

            Articulett, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, it's grounded on two serious errors:

            1. You assume that if several religions have contradictory teachings on salvation, they must all be wrong. But could it be that one is correct and the others are not (or that they are at least partially wrong)?

            2. I'm not aware of anyone here--and certainly not Pope Francis or me--who has suggested Catholics "want" people to suffer eternal torment. Just the opposite is true: we want all to know the saving grace of Christ, which is why Catholics vigorously evangelize the world. Claiming otherwise is merely falling into the straw man fallacy.

          • articulett

            Actually it's you who have made serious errors in regard to what I have said.

            1. My actual posititon regarding #1 is that the invisible beings you believe in are as imaginary as the invisible beings you dismiss as myth. If there was evidence to show otherwise, scientists would be testing, refining, and honing that evidence.

            2. As such, anything anyone imagines about afterlives is full of crap. Your version of afterlives is no more likely to be true than the Muslim brand or reincarnation or Valhalla. I think people are crazy to imagine that a "loving" god will torture those who don't believe the right magic story-- however, clearly this is a successful meme for getting people to believe crazy things. Certainly no real loving being woud have any part in such a horrid manipulation.

            Believers want to believe that there is something good about believing the crazy things they do-- if they can't do that, they'll settle for imagining themselves morally suprior and saved for their beliefs-- while imagining that those who don't share them are damned. Scientologists, Mormons, Muslims, Pentacostals, and Jehovah's Witnesses evangelize too-- it doesn't make their magic stories true. It doesn't make their imagined afterlives any more real than yours.I don't care the reasons they or you tell YOURSELVES what your reasons for indoctrinating others are-- I care about what is true! You say you don't want peopleto go to hell-- but that seems to be the way you excuse yourself into manipulating others into belief-- as has been done to you-- as has been done to Muslims. Your arguments fail when they can be used just as well by those who think you are going to hell for your faith (Muslims think you are going to hell for worshiping Jesus as god-- the god of the old testament commanded others not to have any gods before him-- they could make the same argument you just made above except they'd inster "Allah" for Christ).

            In any case, I think it's very obvious that even if one religions magical story is"the truth"-- there is no way to separate it from the infinity of unfalsifiable competing lies (like a matrix scenario)-- if there was, then scientists would be refining that information. Yet every believer in the supernatural arrogantly imagines that they have figured out a way to do so-- and surprise-- their magical beliefs win! They worship a deity who endorses these head games and imagine themselves humble for doing so.

  • skbn113

    Hogwash.
    Baloney!
    More Catholic claptrap. It just never ends!

  • Mike

    Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NASB

    >> Note that Jesus was speaking to a "good" man, a very religious man but did NOT commend him for being "good" but told him the only way to heaven is to be born again.

    " And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NASB

    >> Peter addresses the Sanhedrin and other religious rulers and officials and does NOT commend them for being very religious and instead points to the ONLY way to salvation...faith in Christ!

    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 NASB

    >> Jesus did NOT say that He was one of many different ways (including being or doing "good"). He claimed to be the ONLY way to eternal life.

    I would urge ALL Roman Catholics to dust off their Bibles, ignore the Pope, and search God's Word to compare the clear teaching of Scripture to the false teachings of the R.C. church.

    Start by carefully and prayerfully reading the book of Romans!

    • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

      Mike,

      The standard Catholic response—and a pretty good one, I think—to the kind of thing you are saying here is that the Bible is a creation of the Church. So it is a little strange to urge people to ignore the Church and rely solely on the Bible. It was the Church that decided which works would be included in the canon and which works would be excluded. The Bible did not fall from heaven. It was created by the Church. What you are giving here is not "what the Bible says." It's a particular interpretation of the Bible using selected verses.

      • Mike

        David,

        I strongly disagree with your understanding of the origin of the Bible. It is God's Word, not a "creation of the Church"!

        The "standard Catholic response" is NOT a good one at all.

        I did not urge people to "ignore the Church" but rather to ignore the pope and instead do as the Bereans...search the Scriptures and compare what is being taught with what God has said!

        I understand the process of the canon of Scripture and I also affirm the inerrancy, infallibility and authority of God's Holy Word.
        I also understand the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture (being "God-breathed") and how the various translations interpret the original language.

        The verses I quoted speak very clearly to anyone who is willing and capable of using basic hermeneutic principles of interpretation.
        The reason I quoted from the NASB is precisely because it is a very accurate (although not in itself inerrant) translation.
        So, yes, the Scriptures I quoted above most certainly ARE "what the Bible says" as they are accurately translated from the original.
        I do agree that the phrase "born from above" is a better choice than "born again" but both are accurate statements right?
        This supposed discrepancy has little to nothing to do with my original assertions based on very clear passages of Scripture on the exclusivity of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!

        • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

          If you understand the process of the formation of the canon, then I don't see how you can not acknowledge that the Church decided what would be in the Bible. If people believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is because the Church selected certain writings, declared them to be inspired, and rejected others as not inspired.

          • garysvent

            Perhaps they included as they were led.

    • articulett

      Being "born again" sounds like reincarnation to me.

      • http://twitter.com/david_nickol David Nickol

        See the footnote below from the New American Bible to John 3:3 ("Jesus answered and said to him, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above'”). The NRSV also has "born from above" instead of "born again," and the NIV has "born again" but with a footnote saying, "The Greek for again also means from above; also in verse 7."

        [3:3] Born: see note on Jn 1:13. From above: the Greek adverb anōthen means both “from above” and “again.” Jesus means “from above” (see Jn 3:31) but Nicodemus misunderstands it as “again.” This misunderstanding serves as a springboard for further instruction.

        There is nothing whatsoever to do with reincarnation in the Christian concept of being born again—not even in the dictionary definition:

        1 : of, relating to, or being a Christian who has made a renewed or confirmed commitment of faith especially after an intense religious experience
        2 : having returned to or having newly adopted an activity, a conviction, or a persona especially with a proselytizing zeal {a born-again conservative}
        3 : newly restored, transformed, or revitalized : given a new life

  • larrycasey

    long answer for a yes or no question

  • physicistdave

    Everyone:

    I'm planning on leaving this site because of the grotesquely and intentionally biased moderation..

    Good luck to all the decent folks, here.

    I suggest everyone google "Rick deLano geocentrism": you will find it informative.

    Apparently, Rick was banned from Mark Shea's site, but the moderation here works a bit differently.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

      Sorry you are going, Dave. Thanks for your help.

    • Michael Murray

      Really sorry to hear that Dave your contributions have been excellent. But I can understand your frustration.

    • David Egan

      This is a huge loss and makes this site a lot less interesting. Please reconsider.

    • Susan

      Thanks for your contributions. It's a big loss.

  • physicistdave

    Matthew Becklo wrote to me (higher up in the thread):

    > But please note that some of your statements in this thread are also not in keeping with our rules. Insulting, sarcastic comments and ad hominem attacks will be deleted, and could result in a ban from the site if they are persistent.

    Y’know, Matt, I have never seen a supposedly moderated site where the moderation was as openly biased and one-sided as on this site.

    I, and other scientifically literate posters, have been repeatedly and bizarrely slimed by posters such as Rick deLano, Ted Seeber, Mark Neal, et al., and we have largely refrained from replying in kind.

    If we merely point out that someone’s post is “nonsense,” that counts as “ad hominem.” But, when Catholics engage in long-winded statements about how evil, incompetent, etc., we are, well, that’s fair game.

    Yet, you moderators are constantly warning us to be nice!

    Anyone who knows the history of the Catholic Church knows that this is indeed in accord with Tradition.

    It is you Christians who are supposed to "turn the other cheek," although I have yet in my life to find a Christian who actually does.

    I am not a Christian and I have no intention of "turning the other cheek."

    I will refrain, Matt, in accordance with the commenting rules, from using
    the words I would normally use to describe someone like you: let’s just say you
    are the sort of person with whom I do not voluntarily associate.

    You want to ban me. Do it. Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

    • http://bywayofbeauty.com/ Matthew Becklo

      Hey Dave - I'm sorry to hear it. Please note that lots of atheists with solid arguments are not warned because they don't say, e.g.: "a tool of Satan and a secret neo-pagan...is about the nicest thing I can think of to say about Catholics." I think you'd agree that such comments are in clear violation of our rules. And as someone who counts atheists among his intellectual heroes, I will do my best to spot and warn users of any world view who hurl insults like this. I hope you'll stick around, and help us sort through the hundreds of comments by flagging any violations. I'm fond of second (and third, fourth, etc.) chances and no, would rather not spend my free time warning and banning people from a site I think is really great. Thanks!

      • Dcn Harbey Santiago

        As the one to whom this little ditty was directed, I have to say this type of statement just tells me this person is not interested in respectful interactions, which just made me ignore any other of their comments. In my mind he was already gone.

        "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
        Deacon Harbey Santiago

      • gwen saul

        Oh good, are you the person to whom we should direct our complaints about rude commentary? Because I'd like to say that the response to my post from awhile back (Jennifer Fulwilers post) by someone calling themselves Daniel McGiffin was in really poor taste:

        "Nothing you said was substantial. Nothing you said moved the
        conversation forward. Nothing you said was productive. Everything you
        said was tainted with misplaced vitriol and bile"

        It's probably too late, but I'm really sorry to see physicist Dave go but I understand completely the reasons why he felt compelled to leave.

        • http://backroomcatholic.com/ Daniel McGiffin

          Hi gwen!

          I'm a little disappointed to only see a partial quote here. While my post was a little hot-headed, what I did was point out the stunning litany of fallacies you made, attacking Jennifer personally, which is against the commenting policy.

          Furthermore, I actually agreed with your anger and outrage, only taking issue with you being outraged at Jennifer, as opposed to the perpetrators.

          I'm sorry if I caused you undue discomfort.

  • Cindy S.

    You are the only person who explained the Popes statement in such a way that made sense to me! Thank you so much for writing this article for those of us who were shocked and confused by this. There have been so many malicious comments in the media which made Catholics look like ignorant pagans. We already have to defend our Faith and certainly didn't need more controversy.
    I blame the Huffington Post for their outrageous headline but I also must question why Pope Francis said this in the manner he did. I feel it was very irresponsible of him to make this statement knowing that the media wolves as well as the AntiCatholic people would twist his words into something blasphemous.
    If Catholics themselves did not understand his meaning, most of us anyway, how could the rest of society?
    I have been arguing all week with Haters who just wait for our Church to mess up.
    Anyway, again thank you & God Bless You. Good Work.

  • Nessie

    Redemption is what we can receive and anyone can receive the redemption - as it was said, Jesus died for us to ALL be redeemed. The distinction is that *salvation* is when a person - any person - chooses to accept that redemption. The pope is clarifying that we should all do good, regardless. But this does not mean that atheists will accept their salvation through Christ who redeems us all.

  • Brad Armstrong

    “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.” - C.S. Lewis

  • David

    I just looked up the synonyms for redemption. guess what? One of them is salvation the other is ransom.

    • Leila Miller

      A theological definition? Can you show me the link?

      • David

        Google was my source. Google is a religion, so I think that counts as a theological definition.

  • Bryan Richards

    So basically the pope says we can be good, but god will still punish us. This is why god, if he is real, is an asshat.

    • Mjanestar

      Yeah, under their theology god is an asshat. And they can control you through your fear of eternal damnation. But people are waking up and seeing that there is nothing to redeem, there is just life and journey and outcomes.

  • Casper Rigsby

    The flaw in this thinking is that the bible teaches that god made all things perfectly, but that "evil" arose all on its own. Now, everyone keeps.talking about "original sin" and doing so referring to the "fall" of Adam... but you all seem to overlook the TRUE source of "evil" which was the "fall" of Lucifer. An angel made PERFECTLY by god who was found to have iniquity in his heart. But how is that possible if he was made PERFECTLY? This "iniquity" had to come from someone or somewhere else. Since god is supposedly the creator of all things, he must also be the source of this "iniquity", because something PERFECT can't CHOOSE to fail but must be CORRUPTED by an outside source. Just as a fruit is "perfect" when it's ripe but then rots when "corrupted" by oxidation and time. It's a matter of causality and if god is the SOURCE of all things as you claim, then he is also the CAUSE of all things as well, including "evil", pain, hatred, and death. All these are HIS failure, NOT OURS. Alternatively, as an Atheist I believe there is no such thing as "sin", only poor choices that can harm others or ourselves. The only "redemption" that can be had is to actually repay those debts in a physical sense and try to right the wrongs we've done. No one can repay that debt for you. You bought it, so you pay the bills.

  • Jane Martin

    Yes it is true that Jesus died for all mankind. However, it doesn't stop there. We are all lost in sin and cannot save ourselves. Only by being united with Christ's perfect life can we become good in God's sight. For scripture says in Ephesians 2:3 "we were, by nature, objects of wrath". This is caused by our rejection of Christ. Acts 4: 12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." To take it a step further Romans 10: 9-13 sums it up by saying that "If you confess with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." We must embrace Christ as our savior. To make a generalized statement that all are saved through Jesus's blood, whether you believe in him or not, is a sin against the Holy Spirit. That is the unforgiveable sin described in Matthew 12:3-37 by Jesus himself.
    Ephesians 2:8 goes on to say "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God - not by works, so that no one can boast. " Faith and belief in Christ comes only from the Holy Spirit.

  • MikeSr

    The concept of a sacrifice to end all future sacrifices in a time when human sacrifice was still in practice is a great and valuable contribution to the evolution of civilization.

    In my mind this equates with the parable of an eye for eye as an evolutionary step forward in the development of eliminating undue retribution by a person with power over another without power. The sometime literal determination of this parable has led to many situations of ongoing strife, usually led by an illiterate or not thoughtful person. The example immediately to mind is the Hatfield and McCoy feud, now after more than decades, finally brought to a close.

    The principle which comes to my mind from Pope Francis' remark, coupled with his already historical outreach to all; is the individual needs to determine whether the ever-increasing and frequently very difficult evolution of kindness to our fellow humans, is spiritually led by a guiding force or a random causative.

    I believe in a guiding force. Whether this force is attuned to each individual or not.

  • jomat

    "John said to Jesus,
    “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
    and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
    Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
    There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
    who can at the same time speak ill of me.
    For whoever is not against us is for us.”"

    This person who did cast out demon was not an unbeliever. He did it in JESUS' name, which means he was a believer. But an atheist is in contradiction to the Lord and His Word. He is an unbeliever and therefore he has no eternal life. He has to repent, accept Jesus as his Savior, and then and then only he could be redeemed.

  • jomat

    "At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us. The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.” — (CCC, 605)

    What you say is true. Yes, Christ died for the whole world. But there is a difference between Jesus dying and the sinners accepting that gift of salvation. Jesus did what He had to do to redeem mankind. But man has to receive it and show it in his life by repenting and bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. If the atheists, drug addicts, drunkards, smokers, thieves, homosexuals, harlots, wife-beaters, murderers, etc. continue to be in their same old sin without repenting, then there is only one hope for them--eternal damnation in the Lake of fire. To escape a burning fire, one has to use the fire-escape and accept the rescuing hand of the firemen extended to them. Christ here is that "Fire-Escape" and or the rescuing "Fireman." If these people stay in the fire [of their sinful life] all the while saying "Jesus died for all," there is no salvation. They are not redeemed until they accept that redemption and change their old way of life. Christ is "Jacob's Ladder." Come on, get on it, escape the fire and reach heaven. And that is the only way.

  • BIGFOOT

    All have been Redeemed. But not all will be saved.

    “ And when I am lifted up from the earth, I
    shall draw all men do myself” John 12:31-32.

    So, Yes. All, have been Redeemed by the Redeemer. But the Redeemer is also the Judge.

    “I tell you most solemnly, the hour will come-in fact, it is here already-when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it, will live. For the Father, who is the source of Life, has made the Son, the source of life, and because he is the Son of Man, has appointed him, supreme judge." John
    5:26-28.

    As the Judge of Man, he only sets free to the Kingdom of the Father, those who do the will of the Father:

    “ Its not anyone who says to me “Lord, Lord “ who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in Heaven” Mathew 7: 21-22