The Raving Theist

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Doing Battle, Spiritually

February 11, 2009 | 77 Comments

Christina Dunigan of Real Choice has for many years run one of the premiere pro-life blogs on the internet. A tireless critic of the abortion industry and a compassionate advocate for post-abortive women, her prolific posts are all carefully reasoned, meticulously researched and scientifically sourced. As an abortion historian, she is also the caretaker of The Cemetery of Choice, which chronicles tragic deaths caused by those “who bought into the idea that women and their unborn children are mortal enemies, and that abortion is a solution to women’s problems.”

This week, however, Christina turned her sights on pro-life rather than pro-choice misconduct. She has posted a Call to Action, asking her readers to prevail upon the Pro-Life Blogs aggregator to suspend its posting of headlines from Pro-Life News. Regrettably, Pro-Life News has been libelously disparaging good-faith legislative efforts to restrict abortion. For example, above a story about proposed state bills to require abortion clinics to offer or provide ultrasounds to pregnant women, Pro-Life News placed the headline “11 STATES CONSIDER MURDERING BABIES AFTER ULTRASOUND PICTURES ARE TAKEN” — with the subtitle “The Nazis also took pictures before killing Jews.”

There is, of course, a legitimate discussion to be had over whether and when pro-life efforts to limit abortion cross the line into impermissible participation in the practice. For now, suffice it to say that Pro-Life News’ deceptive approach does not remotely contribute to the debate. Christina is right that we must engage in a Christian “spiritual battle” against such rhetoric, recognizing that bearing false witness in the name of “life” serves someone other than God:

I might add that Satan is no doubt delighted to see you battle abortion as long as you do it by committing slander, bearing false witness, and puffing yourself up with the sin of Pride. And prolifers are very, very prone to this: to saying, “Yeah, I do this bad thing, but at least I’m not killing babies!” Well, for the most part, abortion is a very carnal sin. (Only the “Abortion as a Sacrifice to Artemis” types embrace it as a spiritual sin.) Fighting it by puffing yourself up with Pride is a spiritual sin. Which one was Jesus more likely to take a sinner to the woodshed over? He was far more gentle on the Woman Caught in Adultery than he was with the puffed-up religious leaders who congratulated themselves daily on how much more holy they were than the woman in question.

So please e-mail the moderator of Pro Life Blogs at prolifeblogs@gmail.com (or contact him or her through the contact form ) regarding Pro-life News’ counterproductive tactics.

Christina has also reproached herself for “not couching the battle regularly in spiritual terms, and in not calling Scriptures to play on a regular basis.” She does remedy that failing in the post, looking to God’s word for guidance. Please consider her analysis, and join her in prayerful reflection over how best to address the differences that may arise between our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Comments

77 Responses to “Doing Battle, Spiritually”

  1. Kamikaze189
    February 11th, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

    “11 STATES CONSIDER MURDERING BABIES AFTER ULTRASOUND PICTURES ARE TAKEN” — with the subtitle “The Nazis also took pictures before killing Jews.”

    They must’ve thought to themselves, “We’ve already accused them of murder. May as well get Godwin’s law involved too.”

    Also, technically, murder is illegal. If this were murder, they’d go to prison. You could still type, in all caps, “KILLING BABIES,” I suppose. Though, again, that definition of “baby” is at odds with most of society.

    I wonder if you consider that, if god is on your side, how come you’re losing this battle? Or any battle for that matter? With the basic theological assumptions, the high number of stillborns might give you an interesting starting point.

  2. Kelly Clark
    February 11th, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

    Hey, RT,

    Thanks for the post and the links.

    I think that many of us in the pro life battle (and it is a battle) are as guilty as the Pro-Life News guy. We get so caught up in the “we are right, they are wrong” mindset that we forget that our main task is to get each other — regardless of belief — into Heaven. Rather, we often concentrate on “Our Righteousness” instead of focusing on the salvation of all.

    God knows I’ve been guilty of this myself.

    Abortion, of course, is murder, and murder, of course, is a sin against God and our neighbor. The primary reason to fight abortion is to prevent each other from falling into sin…not to prove that we are somehow “better” than others.

    Thanks again.

  3. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    February 12th, 2009 @ 12:12 am

    “11 STATES CONSIDER MURDERING BABIES AFTER ULTRASOUND PICTURES ARE TAKEN”

    I honestly don’t understand the flaw. If a zygote is a baby, then they are murderers, picture or not.

    Furthermore, women on the pill are serial killers and should face the death penalty.

    Either you beleive it or you don’t.

  4. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 5:01 am

    VJ,

    At this point in time, abortion is homocide not murder, as murder is a legal term.

    But even if we go with the “murder” theme, you sentence someone according to their intent. Were they in their right mind? Did they know what they were doing was wrong? Did they commit the actual murder?

    Someone that kills someone in a fit of passion is judged differently than someone that kills another person during a robbery and they are judged differently than someone like Ted Bundy that kills for the thrill of killing.

    Murder
    Murder one
    Manslaughter
    etc.

    It is possible to criminalize something without making it “illegal”…like how they want to decriminalize pot. You could be fined, but not jailed.

    I’m not into “law” so I don’t know all the details, but you get my drift.

    Circumstances matter. No One that I know (barring the extremists in this article, and I have dealt with them many a time) wants to see woman given the death penalty for having abortions. We wouldn’t mind seeing abortionists given the death penalty, but not the woman. Woman have been lied to about what abortion is, and even in the Catholic church a sin is not considered “mortal” unless the person committing it understands that what they are doing is gravely wrong, and does it of their own volition…

  5. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 7:47 am

    There is a chilling discussion of the legal implications of FOCA over at Moral Accountability (www.moralaccountability.com/mission/the-legal-consequences-of-the-freedom-of-choice-act/#more-256), the blog started by Robert P. George (and others)less than a month ago to combat Obama’s assaults on laws protecting marriage and human life. Reading this and other posts does not fill me with optimism.

  6. Skeptimal
    February 12th, 2009 @ 10:03 am

    RA/RT said: “Christina has also reproached herself for “not couching the battle regularly in spiritual terms, and in not calling Scriptures to play on a regular basis.” She does remedy that failing in the post, looking to God’s word for guidance. Please consider her analysis, and join her in prayerful reflection over how best to address the differences that may arise between our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

    reproached, spiritual battle, God’s word for guidance, prayerful reflection, brothers and sisters in Christ…

    WOW. You’ve become fluent in Cristobabble in record time, RT. I didn’t realize they had “Rosetta Stone” for JesusSpeak.

  7. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 11:10 am

    Skep,

    You don’t really think RT woke up one morning and decided to “switch sides” do you? Obviously, he has given this much thought…I’m sure he has been talking to people for a loooooong time. He doesn’t strike me as someone that could be easily swayed…thoroughly swayed, yes, but not easily.

    Before he would embrace this completely radical line of thinking, I’m sure he immersed himself in it.

    And the terms aren’t exactly rocket science. EVERY Christian knows that we are in a spiritual battle. We have been since the fall, but it is especially so now.

    You ought to ask RT what these avenues are that he explored and how he came to the realization that he had it all wrong for so long. You might be surprised to find out that much of that superstitious mumbo jumbo? is really the product of some very rational thought and introspection.

    Then again, you might not. But before you accuse him of mindlessly echoing this Christian Jargon, you should think about what the words actually mean…what RT is trying to say.

  8. Skeptimal
    February 12th, 2009 @ 11:38 am

    MK said: “But before you accuse him of mindlessly echoing this Christian Jargon, you should think about what the words actually mean…what RT is trying to say.”

    Actually, I was teasing more than accusing, but I didn’t really make that clear. It was an observation more than anything else. We don’t know when he actually converted; we know only that until last year, he was posting as an atheist.

    “You ought to ask RT what these avenues are that he explored and how he came to the realization that he had it all wrong for so long.”

    Essentially, that’s what I was doing was asking. Again. Just to let him know I haven’t forgotten.

    “You might be surprised to find out that much of that superstitious mumbo jumbo is really the product of some very rational thought and introspection.”

    It isn’t. He’s had a “revelation,” and that’s fine. That’s how people always become religious. I just don’t want him claiming to be an example of an atheist who “thought their way” to Christianity.

    And he doesn’t owe me or anyone else an explanation. As long as he doesn’t claim he reasoned his way to faith.

    My original comment was more good-natured than it apparently sounded, though. I would think even RT would have to see some humor in the turnaround he’s made.

  9. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

    Skep,

    I promise the irony has not been missed.

    I would argue tho, that he very well might have, probably did, “reason” his way there…it is possible you know… ;)

  10. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    Well, actually, mk, he doesn’t *know* that it is possible! After all, if one is not oneself a believer and doesn’t know any up close and personally then why would one doubt what big media have told the country– that only poor, ignorant, uneducated, easily led folks are believers. Some atheists actually believe that stuff!

    Honestly, Skeptimal. It is far easier for me to believe that RT reasoned his way into than that he had a revelation. I don’t know anyone who claims to have had a revelation. I do know at least one person who used a whole lot of reason to get there– me.

  11. Skeptimal
    February 12th, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

    MK said: “I would argue tho, that he very well might have, probably did, “reason” his way there…it is possible you know… :)”

    I won’t rule out the possibility, MK, but I would respectfully assert that it isn’t likely. Faith-based reasoning is very different from skeptical reasoning. Faith requires that you believe, despite any evidence to the contrary. Skepticism allows you to postulate a theory while leaving the door open to its eventual demise. In order to adopt religion, you have to lay aside skepticism, and the only reason you’re going to do that is if you’ve decided you’d rather believe despite the evidence. By choosing your beliefs on preference rather than fact, you’ve jumped the tracks of logical reasoning. That’s what I’m talking about when I say that RT had to have had a “revelation.”

    Lily said: “After all, if one is not oneself a believer and doesn’t know any up close and personally then why would one doubt what big media have told the country– that only poor, ignorant, uneducated, easily led folks are believers.”

    I’ve actually known quite a few believers closely, and I can tell you that some of the most intelligent people I’ve known have believed in gods. If I had to guess, I would say that all who have commented on this blog since I’ve been visiting have been of higher than average intelligence.

    I don’t have much patience for those who dismiss others as “stupid.” The surest way to start acting stupid is to have too much confidence in your own intelligence.

  12. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

    Skep,

    I guess it depends on how you interpret the “evidence”. For myself, it seems much more reasonable to believe, takes a smaller leap of faith to accept, that there is some intelligent being that created all that we have, than it does to believe it all just happened.

    Butterfly wings. Evaporation, lightening for nitrogen, rain. The enormity of the universe. Gravity. LIFE. The brain. The difference between animals and humans. Miracles. Beauty. Natural Law. Bubbles. Love. Cells. Evil. The seasons.

    It’s all too complex, and everything works together in such perfect synchronicity, that I think the odds of it all happening randomly are much slimmer than the notion that some “one” is behind it.

    To me, it seems UNreasonable, IRrational, to think it all just “happened”. Nothing else has ever just happened. Evidence shows that EVERYTHING has a cause. To believe that LIFE did NOT have a “cause” seems impossible.

  13. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

    Skeptimal: You said: “Faith-based reasoning is very different from skeptical reasoning. Faith requires that you believe, despite any evidence to the contrary.”

    Faith requires no such thing. No, faith-based reasoning isn’t very different. Reasoning is reasoning. Logic is not malleable. Two propositions that contradict each other cannot both be correct for Christians but not for skeptics. It does not compute. I think we might need to think this one through a little further.

  14. nile
    February 12th, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

    mk You think an intelligent being must have created the complexity on earth.

    If your proposition is that a complex being must have a creator, then, who cretaed the intelligent being – as obviously it must be a complex entity as well.

  15. Skeptimal
    February 12th, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

    MK said: “It’s all too complex, and everything works together in such perfect synchronicity, that I think the odds of it all happening randomly are much slimmer than the notion that some “one” is behind it.”

    That reasoning is very familiar and understandable.
    I would imagine that even a lot of atheists could agree that your statement alone doesn’t require much in the way of faith.

    But you don’t stop there. You not only believe there *is* a god, you believe you know his name, that he was conceived in a miraculous way, that he was raised from the dead and physically floated into the sky. You believe he is still alive, that he is both god and human, and that he is one of three gods who are actually one god.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but somewhere along the way, you skipped a few steps in the logical process to come to this belief. And I don’t mean this as an attack, sincerely. Still, I stand by my point that it’s very unlikely that someone is going to reason their way from unbelief to faith in a god or gods.

  16. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

    Nile,

    Ahhh there’s the crux. But the idea that there is one uncaused cause is already a given. You haven’t come up with anything better…right?

  17. Skeptimal
    February 12th, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

    “faith-based reasoning isn’t very different. Reasoning is reasoning. Logic is not malleable.”

    The logical process is the same in faith-based reasoning, when you use logic. Frequently, however, faith-based reasoning suspends the need for logic. That’s what’s happening when you “take it on faith.”

  18. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

    Skeptimal, what is the source of your knowledge? How do you know that “[f]requently, however, faith-based reasoning suspends the need for logic.”

    Please, how about some evidence for your faith-based assertions?

  19. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

    Skep,

    Aren’t you taking the fact that the universe came from nowhere, on faith? What proof do you have that it just came into being out of nowhere? Where is your first cause?

  20. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

    Too funny Lily…we posted at exactly the same time, with the same question!

  21. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

    Nile– This assertion won’t work: “If your proposition is that a complex being must have a creator, then, who cretaed the intelligent being – as obviously it must be a complex entity as well.” God is not complex. God is simple. God *is*.(for a serious and mind-bogglingly scholarly discussion see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06612a.htm#IC scroll down to simplicity of God.)

    An infinite regress (who created the creator? Who created the creator of the creator, etc.) cannot explain anything.

    But to step back a bit–The existence or non-existence of any being or entity cannot be known a priori. The existence or non-existence of particular entities are synthetic truth claims, and thus can only be known a posteriori.

    The possible exception to this is God, who is postulated as the only necessary being. It is hard to escape the need for a necessary being, since if all beings are contingent (and thus could just as easily not have existed) then it’s hard to see how anything could exist. God must *be*. That is God must be the source of all existence. This is essentially the argument from contingency that Aquinas offered.

    Now this being is not (yet) identifiable with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So Skeptimal is partly right when he says mk skipped a few steps to make that identification. But, frankly, once the big hurdle is out of the way (the reasonable foundation for believing that there is a God), then one can lay out the evidence for Christianity and see whether or not it is compelling.

    (I hope this makes sense. I have been interrupted at least 5 times while trying to write it…)

  22. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

    Great minds, mk. Great minds! :)

  23. nile
    February 12th, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

    “Ahhh there’s the crux. But the idea that there is one uncaused cause is already a given. You haven’t come up with anything better…right?”

    That there is one uncaused cause is faith, not philosophy. Uncaused cause is the problem, not subject of philosophy.I guess you need to come up with a better ‘given’.

  24. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

    No, it is not faith– it is logical necessity. An infinite regress cannot explain anything. However, we now know that the universe had a beginning. But whatever begins to exist must have a cause. What is the cause?

  25. nile
    February 12th, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

    “God is simple”

    Who says so? He is creator of such complexity. Plus He follows his creations to the most minute detail. He punishes and awards…etcccc..and etccc..

    Yours is pure faith. You say God is simple yet God is all-knowing; all-mighty; all-powerful. I think it would be better for theists not to argue on philosophical basis because they keep contradicting themselves. There was one philosopher – a believer – he/she (I don’t remember) said: I believe because I cannot prove! That was honest.

  26. nile
    February 12th, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    “It’s logical necessity”

    It’s not logical necessity. Aristo’s philosophy took matter as eternal; not created.

  27. nile
    February 12th, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

    Lily: Thanks for post 21; but I think we went through this with you before. I know all about the necessary being. It is what the muslim Avicenna claimed a century before Aquinas. You can check Avicenna’s birth date and Metaphysics, if you want proof. However, these proofs are not considered as valid any more. Plus, as you say, they don’t prove a prayer accepting God.

    I guess I shouldn’t have interfered again; but the subject just attracts me.

  28. James Stephenson
    February 12th, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

    “Either you beleive it or you don’t.”

    – UVJ

    U V Jane,

    You are lucky that most Christians don’t live in the black and white world that you seem to do.

    The Muslims do though, so as they gain power and influence in the West, you should be happy.

  29. Skeptimal
    February 12th, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

    MK Said: “Aren’t you taking the fact that the universe came from nowhere, on faith? What proof do you have that it just came into being out of nowhere? Where is your first cause?”

    I don’t see how the question is relevant. The issue we’re discussing is whether someone can reason their way to faith. I’ve conceded that it doesn’t take faith necessarily to believe that the universe was created.

    The answer, so you won’t think I’m dodging, is that I don’t have proof and never claimed to.

  30. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

    Nile, the problem you are having is that you don’t see that arguments about the nature of God are philosophical arguments and are argued on the basis of logic, not faith. I don’t know how to get past this with you. Do you really want to claim that Augustine, Aquinas, Abelard, Anselm, Ockham, et al didn’t know how to construct a logical argument???

    Do you want to claim that Plantinga, et al do not use logic to construct their arguments? You need to read up on what the philosophers have actually said about God’s nature before deciding that our belief in the simplicity of God’s nature is contradictory. That is a claim that you haven’t even begun to argue, much less prove. Allow me to help: (www.newadvent.org/cathen/06612a.htm#IC) I pointed you to this before. You really need to read it (or the topic of simplicity of God in the article on monotheism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) before you decide that we are not arguing “philosophically”.

    You said: Yours is pure faith. You say God is simple yet God is all-knowing; all-mighty; all-powerful. I think it would be better for theists not to argue on philosophical basis because they keep contradicting themselves. There was one philosopher – a believer – he/she (I don’t remember) said: I believe because I cannot prove! That was honest.”

    You are murdering Augustine there :) What he actually said was “crede, ut intelligas” believe so that you may know. Anselm also is famous for a version of it “credo ut intelligam” “I believe, so that I may know”. They were right but it helps if you read these statements in context.

    Do you understand that we cannot have certainty about much of anything? Almost all our knowledge is based on inductive reasoning.. Are you really willing to throw out history? Our beliefs about historical events are based on inductive reasoning. So is the law. Since history can’t be repeated, the knowledge of it can’t be considered “science” but it still uses the same inductive reasoning that science does.

    I am utterly at a loss to understand claims that we should not argue for our faith on a philosophical basis– we have been doing so for 2000 years! I am pretty sure we aren’t going to stop, either.

  31. Skeptimal
    February 12th, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

    “You not only believe there *is* a god, you believe you know his name, that he was conceived in a miraculous way, that he was raised from the dead and physically floated into the sky. You believe he is still alive, that he is both god and human, and that he is one of three gods who are actually one god.”

    As an addendum to my previous comment, do you disagree that reaching your current beliefs, with all the specific unlikelihoods, miracles, and supernatural causes, requires that you skip logical steps and believe because you prefer to? I don’t know of anyone who, without access to the doctrines of the church, would come to the conclusions you have come to.

  32. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

    “do you disagree that reaching your current beliefs, with all the specific unlikelihoods, miracles, and supernatural causes, requires that you skip logical steps and believe because you prefer to?”

    If that is addressed to me, Skeptimal, the answer is no.

    I suppose I can try to lay it out for you, if you like.

  33. nile
    February 12th, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

    “Do you really want to claim that Augustine, Aquinas, Abelard, Anselm, Ockham, et al didn’t know how to construct a logical argument???”

    Yes, exactly. They were not philosophers; they were theologians. Please do check Avicenna in Wikipedia. I said a century before, but actually he lived almost 200 years before Aquinas. His metaphysical doctrine (necessary being) is also explained there in Wikipedia. There are also Al-Kindi, Farabi, Averroes and others. Why am I stating all these muslim philosophers as examples? It is because I have studied them and they tell exactly the same things as your Christian references do. It is all Plato or Aristotle adapted to monotheism and it just doesn’t work!

  34. nile
    February 12th, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

    I have checked Stanford Encyclopedia about the simplicity of God. After the argument is explained, the following reservations are made:

    There are at least two problems with this argument, though. First, the doctrine of divine simplicity is highly controversial — not all theists accept it. Second, even if the doctrine is accepted, the most that may be required is that God’s essential (real) properties are either identical with each other or equivalent to each other. God also appears to have (real) contingent properties, however, and, if he does, these properties can’t be identical with or equivalent to his essential properties. For consider the property of being the ultimate cause of my existence or the property of knowing that I am the author of this entry. Since acting and knowing are paradigmatic cases of real properties, being the ultimate cause of my existence or knowing that I am the author of this entry would seem to be real properties of God. (Pace Thomas Aquinas and others who implausibly insist that they aren’t even though God really has them, that is, even though God really does stand in these relations to me.) But they are also contingent properties of God, since there are possible worlds in which God exists and doesn’t create me, and possible worlds in which God exists but doesn’t know that I am the author of this entry (because, for example, I never write it). Since God has his essential properties in every possible world in which he exists and does not have his contingent properties in every possible world in which he exists, his contingent properties can’t be identical with, or equivalent to, his essential properties. It follows that if H and non-H are real but contingent properties of two divine beings, they are neither identical with nor equivalent to D. The argument from simplicity thus fails because it leaves open the possibility that two gods could be distinguished by a difference in their real contingent properties.

  35. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 8:11 pm

    I am afraid we are going to have to agree to disagree, Nile. I am not up to trying to argue these matters in comment boxes and, when one considers how vast the literature on these questions is, I don’t think– no wait, I know that I cannot do the arguments justice.

    Suffice it to say that there is nothing that you or I can bring up that is new. These questions are not settled; there are plenty of thinkers who continue to tackle the question of the nature of God, good and evil and the whole litany of questions we all have. The arguments I have alluded to are compelling to me, as they have been to many over the centuries.

    The evidence for the truth of Christianity seems strong enough to me that I can weigh it and decide that it merits my assent. The fact that there can be no such thing as absolute certainty on the matter is just the nature of reality.

  36. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

    Skep,

    I wrote some of my posts before you but they went up after for some reason. So you have answered a question only to have me ask it again, except I didn’t. Does that make sense?

    I’ve conceded that it doesn’t take faith necessarily to believe that the universe was created.

    For some reason the second time I asked you this, you hadn’t answered yet, but your answer got sandwiched in there. The same thing happened to another comment. It’s hard to explain what I’m saying, but I didn’t ask you the same question after you answered it…

    I gotcha…we agree that it doesn’t take faith to believe that the universe was created.

    As to why I believe I know who this God is, to a degree, yes, this can be reasoned too.

    I can look at the writings from the Hebrews, the Jews, the Old Testament and I can see that it had a large number of different writers all telling a story with continuity. We don’t see that anywhere else. We have archeological proof that these places and incidents happened. Just the fact that the names of places like Israel and Palestine and Hebron are still called those things today. So we can see that these were accepted as truths.

    Was every word fact? Probably not, but it is the story of a particular group of people that actually spoke to God. I believe them about God for the same reason I believe any historical recording. I believe in Caesar, and Aristotle.

    Granted, no one claimed that Aristotle was speaking to God, but how do we know what went on in Moses time? If there is a God, and He is the God of Abraham, then why is it such a leap to believe that He conversed with people?

    I want to continue this, but I keep getting interrupted and I’m not doing this justice…I’ll try again later…

  37. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

    Oh my LORD! I just finished reading the last few comments (especially the New Advent ones) and I feel like I’ve been playing poker and have been betting on a pair of twos only to find out that you guys have a royal flush and a full house, aces high!

    Okay, I can admit when I’m out of my element. I thought Chesterton was heady!

    I guess all I can say is that I haven’t got a clue as to how the television works, but it does. So I am sure that someone knows. And I’ll just have to trust them.

    I can’t tell you why God is simple, or what is “nature” is, but I trust minds like Aquinas and Augustine. That which I do know, does not contradict reason, and in my estimation appears completely reasonable and logical.

    Of course I’m an idiot. Still…

  38. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

    No, you aren’t an idiot, mk. I trained as a medievalist so these guys I have named and their arguments were part of the bargain. Most of us come to faith in very different ways. We don’t believe in a set of propositions; we meet a person. This stuff is mainly useful for arguing with atheists and boring people senseless at parties.

  39. frustrated(mk)
    February 12th, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

    Lily,

    You are just being kind now…I would have to read and study for another thirty years just to work UP to being bored. My head still hurts from just those 4 paragraphs…

    contingent properties???? Essential properties????

    I am really interested tho, in what was meant my all Christian and Muslim arguments are really just Aristotle and Plato redone…why isn’t it possible that Aristotle and Plato got a lot of it right, but missed key elements. Like God? This happens today too, doesn’t it?

    People get the morals right, but for the wrong reasons?

  40. Lily
    February 12th, 2009 @ 10:16 pm

    mk, seriously, when I read you and see how you interact with others (Irreligious springs to mind)– when I see how incredibly kind, tactful, open and tolerant you are, I see Jesus. Knowing a lttle Aristotle doesn’t even come close to that. There are a number of you here (you all know who you are) who don’t just flap your gums (or pound a keyboard), you act. I need to do a whole lot less flapping and a whole lot more work!

  41. nile
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:01 am

    Lily: Fine. Agree to disagree. A few points though.

    1. Both Muslim and Christian philosophers did not MAKE philosophy but USED philosophy to explain their religious doctrines on philosophical basis.
    2. I have proved through my reference to Avicenna/Wikipedia that what you had called ‘pure myth’ about muslims philosophizing monotheism and carrying it to Europe was a fact.
    3.The Stanford Encyclopedia for the criticism of God being simple was a source you had suggested.

  42. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:12 am

    Lily,

    Lol…I’d like to do both!

    I’ll let you in on a secret tho. The only way to this internet thing can work is if you really and truly invest yourself in the people you interact with. I honestly, and I mean this, try to love each person I meet on these blogs. That’s why they’ve traveled hundreds of miles to come to my home.

    You can’t fake it. You really have to listen to them and grow to care for them. It’s not easy, because it can seem like you are talking to just words on a page. But every single one is a real person.

    I love finding out “who” everybody is. Like your cats. And that Nile is from Istanbul. Then when you start to get riled up you remember that you are talking to a friend.

    Another trick is look at who people could be if they “went back to the beginning”. If every good thing could shine through, and every bad thing be erased, who would they be? Almost EVERYONE ends up looking phenomenal when you do that.

    And the third thing is to remember the goal. The goal can never be to be right, for the sake of being right. The goal must always be to unveil the truth. To shine a light. Not to beat them at their game, but to be on the same team so everybody wins.

    And the last thing? This really is a secret, so shhhhhh…mums the word. As I get to know them I put their name on a slip of paper and place it in my wallet. Then at the consecration of every mass, I read them and mentally place them on the altar. I offer up all kinds of little things for them, and I let them enter my heart.
    I call them my “family”. There used to be a group of us over at Jill’s that would regularly say a novena for everyone…

    Everyone has the potential to be an RT turned RA. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And the ones that don’t? Well the seed has been planted, and I have become a better person for knowing them.

    I got into a bit of trouble at Jill’s because I especially loved the hardest “cases”…Carla can verify this. One guy in particular comes to mind. Everyone hates the guy. But I discovered that his mom had a number of abortions and actually wrote some well known papers on how she didn’t really want him (or his sibling), kind of like a Margaret Sanger, and I just kept picturing him as a little 4 year old boy that wanted desperately to crawl up into his mommy’s lap and have his hair stroked…be told he was a GOOD boy and that he was loved. After I left Jill’s I had to track him down on other sites and finally got him to come over to 2secondsfaster…He’s there now, and I can honestly say that I love him. He’s still as rotten as ever, but there is hope for my “little boy”. On a theology of the body post he wrote this:

    “I tell them: the pleasure of sex, which you do not know yet, comes from the memory of being helpless and cared-for as a baby, when love from parents equals life.”

    That’s all I needed to see to know that this man is worth my time… :)

  43. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:19 am

    BUT,

    I would be eternally grateful if you could explain what essential and contingent properties means, and also what Aristotle and Plato believed that Christians stole…

    It’s not that I can’t understand, it’s just that I never took a philosophy course and the terms are all knew to me.

    But I can’t shake the idea that if Truth is objective, Aristotle and Plato could have stumbled upon it just as easily as anyone. It’s right there. They wouldn’t have to recognize it for what it was, God’s Law, they would just have to recognize that it was true. See?

    So what did they believe? Obviously, I don’t mean EVERYTHING they believed, I’ll have to go back to school for that, but in general…

  44. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:35 am

    Nile,

    1. Both Muslim and Christian philosophers did not MAKE philosophy but USED philosophy to explain their religious doctrines on philosophical basis.

    But Aristotle and Plato did not MAKE Truth, they used philosophy to explain it…didn’t they? They DISCOVERED Truth. Or partial Truth. I mean, just the fact that they came to many of the same conclusions that the Christian faith teaches, is evidence of Objective Truth…to me at least.

    I have proved through my reference to Avicenna/Wikipedia that what you had called ‘pure myth’ about muslims philosophizing monotheism and carrying it to Europe was a fact.

    Now be patient with me…I just read that entire article on Avicenna and don’t get what you are saying. (I think I understood the article by the way)…could you explain what you are saying here?

  45. nile
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:37 am

    mk: As I mentioned in post 41, The simplicity of God article in Stanford Encyclopedia was what Lily had suggested to me so that I should learn about it. I read the article and at the end, I saw that it included a criticism as well. I just posted the criticism part. If you just read the same article, you will know about essential and contingent properties and why God cannot be simple.

    Will come back to Aristo later.

  46. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:47 am

    Skep,

    As an addendum to my previous comment, do you disagree that reaching your current beliefs, with all the specific unlikelihoods, miracles, and supernatural causes, requires that you skip logical steps and believe because you prefer to? I don’t know of anyone who, without access to the doctrines of the church, would come to the conclusions you have come to.

    Which doctrines do you mean? Are you including scripture? Because protestants are not familiar with church doctrine and have come to their conclusions based on scripture alone. Any one that believes in any faith whatsoever, including Greek Mythology, Baal, Moloch, the Aztecs, come to the same conclusions. That there is something “other” that explains the unexplainable. Sometimes they’ve gotten it right, sometimes not.

    But it seems to me that the “unexplainable” has been around as long as man has, and that every generation has come to the same conclusions…there is something “else”.

    you mention miracles…a while back I posted on some of the “miracles” of our time…how do you explain them? How do you explain Pio’s stigmata or the Virgin appearing to Muslims in Egypt…with a million eyewitnesses? How do you explain a bleeding host? To me, the only “logical” conclusion is that something we don’t understand is at work. So what is it? Why the Virgin and not Cleopatra? Why a host and not a taco?

  47. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:51 am

    Nile,

    I admit that I read the article while the kids were still up and it gave me a headache. So essential properties are like the soul…that which makes us human as opposed to animal. Our ability to reason, to be self aware…

    Contingent is our bodies? He’s saying that our souls could exist without our bodies, but our bodies could not exist without our souls? And that while our bodies can be explained scientifically our souls cannot?

    Have I gotten any of that right?

  48. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 7:00 am

    Nile/Lily,

    And that while we must get our “soul” from somewhere/someone an infinite being must always have had it? Because by definition, if he got it from somewhere he would no longer be “infinite”? And if we didn’t get it from somewhere, we would be infinite?

    It’s like I can almost grasp it…but not quite.

  49. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 7:06 am

    Nile/Lily,

    And that unless we have a physical being, we don’t have the faculties to know that we exist?

    Like my soul could exist, but unless it marries my mind, my brain, my soul has no way of knowing that it exists?

    Only the Infinite Being is capable of knowing it exists, without benefit of a brain/body/mind because the minute it has a brain/body/mind it ceases to be infinite?

    And that nobody else would be capable of knowing, comprehending this infinite being, unless it was created BY the infinite being and given the faculties to “experience” it?

    Didn’t Lewis say something like this? That the soul contains the body, the body does not contain the soul?

  50. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 7:08 am

    And isn’t this what we mean when we say created in the “imiage” of God? That we are given what He has so that we can comprehend Him? Not the body part, but the rational part?

    Isn’t this basically what the word “Logos” means?

  51. UnspeakablyViolentJane
    February 13th, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    mk, I know that there are degrees of illegality, but why would you want to. As I mentioned before, they always tell you that conception occurs when you take the pill. It’s like the speech the stewardess gives you before take off – most women could mouth the words if only they could stay awake. So given that we KNOW that we are killing a fertilized egg – an entity that you feel should be granted person hood – why wouldn’t you charge them with first degree murder?

    If you really beleive…

  52. Lily
    February 13th, 2009 @ 9:19 am

    mk– those are fabulous questions. I am not sure I am capable of ansswering them coherently. Let me start ith the last and I will try to speak to the others after I have a chance to think about them and organize my thoughts.

    I have always understood “created in the image of God to mean that we have some share in his nature such that our creativity, ability to love, sense of justice, etc. are poor but real reflections of Him. I think you are right that that is how we are able to “know” him. As far as the soul is concerned, we Christians understand that human beings are ‘embodied souls’ Body and soul so intimately and fundamentally bound that the composite is what makes us human. Soul without body is a ghost, body without soul is a cadaver. The Catechism is worth rereading on this point (para. 362ff)

  53. Skeptimal
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:04 am

    MK said: “Any one that believes in any faith whatsoever, including Greek Mythology, Baal, Moloch, the Aztecs, come to the same conclusions. That there is something “other” that explains the unexplainable.”

    This is the “god of the gaps” idea that I’ve mentioned before. It makes sense that all people, finding themselves in a universe for which they lack understanding, would contrive gods to fill in those gaps. Our minds naturally look for patterns, and if we don’t see a real pattern, we’ll make one up. That’s why so many people see the “Mars face” when they look at that picture from the Martian satellite.

    And maybe they’re right on the existence of a supreme being. Still, if our question is whether someone can reason their way to Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or…, I maintain that it is highly unlikely, if not impossible. At some point, you have to jump the tracks of logic and “take it on faith.”

    “Which doctrines do you mean? Are you including scripture? Because protestants are not familiar with church doctrine and have come to their conclusions based on scripture alone.”

    There would be no protestants but for the Catholic church, so even the offshoots have their roots in the teachings of the church. Further, protestants who use the Bible as a proof text have started with a faith-based assumption that the Bible is the inerrant word of Jehovah-Jesus. An objective person reading the Bible recognizes it for what it is: a fascinating historical record of the evolving beliefs of a segment of mankind. Only those who are already believers can view it as a sacred text.

  54. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    Jane,

    If you really beleive…

    Because I agree with the law and my church…there are degrees of culpability…Intent and amount of the understanding of the crime matter.

    Fines? Yes. Perhaps in time, when abortion has been illegal for years, stiffer penalties could be imposed.

    But right now 2 generations of women have been taught to believe that it isn’t wrong. I don’t think you can just expect them to see it simply because we say so.

    Putting toothpaste back in the tube and all that. But give it another 2 generations, and it might be a different story.

  55. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:22 am

    Skep,

    Our minds naturally look for patterns, and if we don’t see a real pattern, we’ll make one up.

    Yes, but our minds look for patterns because there ARE patterns. This only gives credence to the idea that there is a pattern bigger than the obvious.

    We see patterns in nature, in ourselves, in natural law…it can only make sense if we follow this theory. There ARE patterns. It’s a “law”. Therefore, it follows logically that there is an ultimate “pattern maker”.

    If not, it would be the only time that there wasn’t. That goes against everything that we know.

    So if we know that there are patterns, and natural laws, and that everything has a cause, yet we deny that there must be a causeless cause, then we are left with nothing…no meaning to the patterns.

    Take the rain idea. It might be possible that water evaporated and came back down without a cause, but what are the odds that lightening would happen, creating nitrogen filled water, and that plants thrive on nitrogen?

    Even if you reverse it and say that plants thrive as a result of the lightening/rain first…you haven’t explained why those plants have exactly the qualities that animals need to live…

    It’s just too complex. And it always follows “laws”. Those laws keep it running like a clock. Without those laws it would be chaos. But it isn’t chaos. It’s more like art.

    And one of those patterns is that everything has a cause.

    To dismiss this, is to dismiss all of our understanding of nature. Either everything has a cause or it doesn’t.

    Sure, people might fill in those gaps and call it god, but what they are really doing, is recognizing that there must be a cause. Call it god, God, the Other, the Force, The Unknown…it exists. And they/we recognize it. We believe that we have been given “clues” to help us understand a bit about “it”…And it follows that it would be a “being” because only something with a “mind” could do what it has done. See?

  56. Skeptimal
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:23 am

    MK said: “you mention miracles…a while back I posted on some of the “miracles” of our time…how do you explain them? How do you explain Pio’s stigmata or the Virgin appearing to Muslims in Egypt…with a million eyewitnesses? How do you explain a bleeding host? To me, the only “logical” conclusion is that something we don’t understand is at work.”

    I’m not familiar with all of the miracles you mention here, and without looking into them in depth, I would not be able to do justice to an explanation of them.

    I can speak generally, though, about the types of events you speak of. Our imaginations are powerful things, and our minds often work against us in evaluating miracles. Eyewitness accounts are one of the least reliable sources of information. Crowds are also susceptible to a kind of persuasive groupthink, that can alter perceptions of what is occurring. This is how the fake faith healers and psychics get away with so much *Some* of the bleeding statue miracles have been evaluated by skeptics, and chemical explanations (and sometimes well-meaning fraud) have been found.

    Catholicism is not the only modern religion which sees miracles and unexplained events, although my personal opinion is that the Church is the most dignified. The Mormon church is based on the lies of a 19th-century illiterate pedophile and crook. To this day, that religion continues to grow despite the staggering lack of ANY evidence for the veracity of its scriptures. Why would people follow this? Because they’d rather have a pattern, even one that makes no sense, than to live with uncertainty.

    The church of scientology embraces the imaginative fabrications of an egomaniacal (and mediocre) science fiction writer. They actually believe they have superpowers, even though they’ve never seen them in action.

    I don’t think I need to get into the bizarre groupthink available from Mohammed’s followers.

    In light of these ever-present examples, it only makes sense to assume that all of these miraculous claims are unreal unless someone provides extraordinary evidence.

  57. nile
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:41 am

    Lily and mk: God doesn’t seem to be simple, does He?

  58. nile
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:53 am

    About how false belief and miracles occur, I am posting here this extract which I had posted elsewhere.

    I want to quote below from Gershom Scholem’s Sabbatai Sevi, The Mystical Messiah (1626-1676) For those who don’t know, Sevi is the famous pseudo-messiah of kabbalism who lived in Smyrna, Turkey and whose ideas swept all of Europe , Africa and Middle East with millions of believers in the 17th century. Even after he was caught and imprisoned by the Ottoman authorities, his followers continued believing in him up to this day.

    This is a description of mass prophecy in Smyrna and I am posting it to show how easy it is for people to be persuaded into false belief.
    Imagine, just how recently – only in the 17th century – such a phenomenon could have taken place.

    “..Smyrna was in a festive mood, and the believers moved in a dizzy whirl of legends, miracles and revelations. Abraham Yakhini, who was in Smyrna at the time, well summed up the mood of the period when, a few years later, he spoke of “those blessed days.” The transition from mere factual reality to the transfigured reality of the heart, that is, to legend, was rapid. Collective enthusiasm quickly surrounded events with a halo. Tales of the appearance of a pillar of fire and similar miraculous signs became indubitable facts. The people of Smyrna saw miracles and heard prophecies, providing the best possible illustration of Renan’s remark about infectious character of visions. It is enough for one member of a group sharing the same beliefs to claim to have seen or heard a supernatural manifestation, and the others too will see and hear it. Hardly had the report arrived from Aleppo that Elijah had appeared in the Old Synagogue there, and Elijah walked the streets of Smyrna. Dozens, even hundreds had seen him: he was the anonymous beggar asking for alms, as well as the invisible guest at every banquet. Solomon Cemona, one of the wealthiest Jews in Smyrna, had invited friends to a great feast. One of the guests, his gaze falling on the shining brass plates hanging on the wall, started from his seat and, bowing deeply, exclaimed: “Arise brethren and behold the prophet Elijah”-and all rose, bowed and beheld Elijah. …..A Dutch merchant writing early in April …described the scene (another scene) : ‘At that time..more than two hundred prophets and prophetesses upon whom there fell a mighty trembling so that they swooned. In this state they exclaimed that Sabbatai ?evi was the messiah and king of Israel who would lead his people safely to the Holy Land…”

    Isn’t it easy to guess how Moses’ or Muhammed’s revelations/visions convinced those around them – a few thousand years before this incident? And can’t we make a projection to present time whereby people think they have been witnesses to miracles.

  59. Lily
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:55 am

    Actually, ordinary evidence will do. Evidence is evidence. It is hard to imagine what extraordinary would amount to.

    In any case while a certain due skepticism is appropriate when faced with claims of miracles, it is simply wrong to rule them impossible, as so many atheists do (I am not saying that you do. I am speaking in general). Really, the most the scientific community can say about miracles is that some event has no known natural cause. It cannot say that this particular event had a supernatural cause because the supernatural is outside of the realm of science which is limited to explaining things that are natural and repeatable.

    So any demand for scientific proof (which I suppose is what you mean by evidence) that a miracle has occurred is really one that can never be met. But this doesn’t show that there are no miracles or that there is no supernatural. It simply shows that science has limits.

    Of course, your larger point is pretty well on target. There are a lot of bogus claims and instances of claims that can be attributed to mass hysteria or, simply, deception on the part of someone “performing” the miracle. It is good to keep that in mind.

  60. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:57 am

    There would be no protestants but for the Catholic church, so even the offshoots have their roots in the teachings of the church. Further, protestants who use the Bible as a proof text have started with a faith-based assumption that the Bible is the inerrant word of Jehovah-Jesus. An objective person reading the Bible recognizes it for what it is: a fascinating historical record of the evolving beliefs of a segment of mankind. Only those who are already believers can view it as a sacred text.

    But your original comment was that no one would come up with this if they hadn’t read the doctrines. I’m saying, not only would they, but they have. Whether it was the Jews, the Muslims, The Hindus, the Pagans of Rome…they all came to the conclusion that there is something greater and that it is to be appeased. You’re saying that this is just coincidence? You’re saying that this common idea was just a fluke? Because, again, I think that takes a greater leap than believing that they were all correct…the details might be wrong, but I think they were “recognizing” something that was already there…not making something up to explain what wasn’t there.

    If you are talking about the Christian faith in particular, well those documents only came about because people claim that they had actual knowledge of God. They met Him, spoke to Him. Not to His prophet, not by staring at the stars, but by actual contact with Him.

    He revealed Himself to us. This is why Judaism, Islam and Christianity all have the same God. The one that made Himself known. That’s pretty much the only God that has survived. Buddhism doesn’t adhere to a belief in a Supreme Being and neither does Hinduism nor paganism.

    The entities that Hindus and Pagans believe in have never revealed themselves. I can understand why you would think these faiths are man made, but God and Jesus have shown themselves.

  61. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 10:57 am

    There would be no protestants but for the Catholic church

    lol…don’t say that to a protestant!

  62. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 11:00 am

    To this day, that religion continues to grow despite the staggering lack of ANY evidence for the veracity of its scriptures. Why would people follow this? Because they’d rather have a pattern, even one that makes no sense, than to live with uncertainty.

    You see???? You’ve just used logic to eliminate one of the worlds religions…This is what I mean by you can reason your way to accepting the Catholic Church as Truth IF you already accept that there IS an uncaused cause…

  63. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 11:02 am

    Lily and mk: God doesn’t seem to be simple, does He?

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think the word “simple” here means “easy” or noncomplex. I think it means that He doesn’t have separate parts like we do. He’s not a body AND a soul…He’s a bodyandasoul…see? complex as in accident and substance as opposed to simple, just substance.

  64. Lily
    February 13th, 2009 @ 11:05 am

    Say again? God does seem to be simple. I don’t know what you think has been demonstrated that would point to something else. God cannot have properties. God *is*. That is, ultimately what is meant by simplicity.

    God is a simple being or substance excluding every kind of composition, physical or metaphysical. Physical or real composition is either substantial or accidental — substantial, if the being in question consists of two or more substantial principles, forming parts of a composite whole, as man for example, consists of body and soul; accidental, if the being in question, although simple in its substance (as is the human soul), is capable of possessing accidental perfections (like the actual thoughts and volition of man’s soul) not necessarily identical with its substance. Now it is clear that an infinite being cannot be substantially composite, for this would mean that infinity is made up of the union or addition of finite parts — a plain contradiction in terms. Nor can accidental composition be attributed to the infinite since even this would imply a capacity for increased perfection, which the very notion of the infinite excludes. There is not, therefore, and cannot be any physical or real composition in God. (From the paragraph on the simplicity of God to which I have previously pointed: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06612a.htm) This article still expresses Catholic understanding, though, of course, there are likely to be individual Catholics and other Christians who disagree with some parts of it).

  65. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 11:05 am

    Nile,

    Isn’t it easy to guess how Moses’ or Muhammed’s revelations/visions convinced those around them – a few thousand years before this incident? And can’t we make a projection to present time whereby people think they have been witnesses to miracles.

    Absolutely,
    BUT, you’ll notice that “Smyrna” didn’t last for 6,000 years, getting stronger and stronger…

    If you accept the Catholic Teaching, thereby accepting the Christian God, you must also accept satan and his crew.

    Which means that if God is Truth, satan is lies. It would only stand to reason that he would lie, lie, lie, deceive, deceive, deceive, divert, divert, divert….

    It makes perfect sense that he would lead people in false directions…anything to keep them from seeing the Truth.

  66. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 11:11 am

    Nile,

    The miracle I posted on was one that took place in Egypt.

    Our Lady appeared on top of a coptic church for weeks. Millions of people saw her. The first to see her were Muslims. She was photographed, videoed and newspapers wrote about the incident. She wasn’t vague, like when she is seen on a window or a taco…she moved. Prayed. Beckoned to the people.

    Or Fatima, were thousands of people saw her and the miracle of the sun. And Saint Lucia was given secrets that came to pass. With remarkable detail. Not vague like newspaper horoscopes. Or Rwanda, where she appeared to 7 teenagers and described the genocide that took place there in incredible detail 10 years before it happened…

    These are the types of miracles I am speaking about.

    Some statues bleed and it is fraud. No doubt. But some cannot be explained. Over and over, when a host bleeds, or a statue or a crucifix…they scientifically test the blood and it is always type AB positive. Many times it is found to come from heart tissue.

    Or the Tilma of Our Lady in Guadalupe. It hangs there today and no one knows what the material is. Or what the colors are…

    How do we explain these?

  67. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 11:12 am

    Nile,

    I’ve actually posted on all of these apparitions on my blog. If you go there and click on the side bar “Our Lady/Apparitions” you can see a lot of them easily…

    2secondsfaster.com

  68. Skeptimal
    February 13th, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

    MK said: “they all came to the conclusion that there is something greater and that it is to be appeased. You’re saying that this is just coincidence? You’re saying that this common idea was just a fluke?”

    I’m saying the fact they all came to that conclusion doesn’t prove anything. They all came to the conclusion the sun and move moved over the flat earth, too.

    And there’s a long way from there to Islam, Buddhism, or Christianity.

    “You see???? You’ve just used logic to eliminate one of the worlds religions…This is what I mean by you can reason your way to accepting the Catholic Church as Truth IF you already accept that there IS an uncaused cause…”

    It seems likely that there *was* an uncaused cause, but that may have been the universe itself. And even were to to stipulate that there were a supreme being, it does not follow that that being is *any* of the gods men and women have worshipped.

    You and I probably agree that *most* of the gods were fictions created by men to explain what they didn’t understand. That makes you an atheist in all of those other religions. As Michael Shermer (I think) puts it, I only believe in one less god than you do.

  69. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

    Skep,

    True they were wrong about the actions of the sun, yet they were also right about a lot of it. They knew that it was important. They knew that it was warm. They marked their days by it. They grew their food with it. To me this is like getting the fact that there is a God right, but missing some of the “finer points”. They didn’t have the tools to be able to know that the sun didn’t revolve around us. But they recognized that it existed. In time, as they were able to understand it better, they found that they revolved around it, but they also confirmed that they were right about the rest of it.

    My point is that misunderstanding the sun did not negate the reality of the sun. All those people saw the sun and knew “some things” about the sun. When they discovered that they were wrong, the sun didn’t disappear. It was still there and is still there today waiting to be understood even more.

    God revealed Himself to us in bits and pieces too. The fact that everyone believed in one version or another tells us that they must have been seeing something. Not that they weren’t seeing anything, but that they were misunderstanding what they were seeing. The flaw was theirs not God’s or the sun’s.

    While I believe that the Catholic Church comes closest to the Truth, I by no means think she knows EVERYTHING there is to know. And in time, as God reveals Himself to us more and more, She will come to understand Him better.

    We now KNOW that we revolve around the sun. We many KNOW who God is one day. Until then, we must be satisfied with knowing that He exists and that our understanding of Him is imperfect. But our lack of understanding does not negate His existence any more than a lack of understanding negated the sun’s existence.

  70. Lily
    February 13th, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

    Skeptimal, This was aimed at mk but I can’t resist commenting on it:

    You and I probably agree that *most* of the gods were fictions created by men to explain what they didn’t understand. That makes you an atheist in all of those other religions. As Michael Shermer (I think) puts it, I only believe in one less god than you do.

    I don’t think many of us would agree with this. There is only one God and he has revealed himself to all men in his creation. We don’t think all those other religions are 100% wrong. Where they agree with Christianity they are right. Where they disagree, they are wrong (in our understanding). But their Gods are not “fictions” but attempts to describe someone/something real.

  71. nile
    February 13th, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

    “BUT, you’ll notice that “Smyrna” didn’t last for 6,000 years, getting stronger and stronger…”

    Well, Islam is getting stronger and stronger. On the other hand, Egyptian Sumerian and Hitite cultures lasted 8-10.000 years. Do Islam and the religions of these cultures deserve being called True?

    I totally agree with the phrase “I only beleive in one less God”. Richard Dawkins used it in his God Delusion but I don’t know if he originated the term.

  72. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

    Nile,

    I don’t know anything about Sumeriean or Hitite (tho I’ll go right now and look it up) but as for Islam. They believe in the same God that I do. So yeah, I’d say they got a LOT right. They have much wrong, but they have more right than the Hindus. So I wouldn’t eliminate (believe in one less god) on their account, or I’d be eliminating my own God…

    Now to see what a Sumerian and a Hitite are…

  73. frustrated(mk)
    February 13th, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

    Okay,

    Yes. As Lily said, and as I have said, if there is a Supreme being then all religions are attempting to understand Him. Lily is right, that some parts of their faith are correct and some are incorrect.

    There are also demons posing as gods, but I don’t know enough about these religions to say whether or not they were duped by demons, or were just victims of misunderstanding.

    God is God. If a person does not “know” my God, but truly attempts to do what is right to the best of his or her ability, then it is to God’s credit. He accepts that.

    All Good is of God. Nothing bad or evil is of God. ANY faith that teaches Good, does so in his name even if they don’t realize it…any faith that teaches evil, even if they use HIS name, does not do it in His name, even if they think they are…

    Does that make sense?

    God is Good.

    All Good comes from God and goes back to Him.

    No evil is from God.

    No evil can be done in His name.

  74. nile
    February 14th, 2009 @ 3:31 am

    mk post 73

    I’m afraid you’re saying that God didn’t care about humankind until Abraham/Moses came. That involves some hundred thousand years, if we think that earliest fossil of a human kind goes back about a few hundred thousand years. And how many years is it since we have Moses? Say, about 5000 years. You see, the Abrahamic God is very very new.

    When I try to understand religions from a very wide perspective, that is taking into consideration the history of our world and the diversity of beliefs, then I ask myself: Why was it Gods and not the God before? If God had not revealed Himself to those societies, then when He revealed himself to Moses, why should the heathen be considered demonic and punished, killed? That sounds very absurd to me.

    And you say that God is good. From what we see here on earth there is both good and evil. If good is from God, who creates evil? If you say Satan, why can’t an all-powerful being cope with Satan? Why does He want to torture us here in this world to give us eternal happiness in another world? I mean, our time in this world is so short! He could have just skipped this world and create His utopia/heaven whereby everything worked acording to the decisions and management of an all-good Being. I repeat. Why need the torture on this earth which is a very very SHORT time compared to heaven/hell?

    WHO CREATES EVIL AND WHY CAN’T OR DOESN’T GOD STOP IT?
    (I am not asking these questions expecting answers. We have talked over them many times. I just used capital letters to think it over. It DOES seem absurd.

    BTW Sumerian is the Mesopotamian (where Iraq is; between the rivers Euphrates and Tigre – Oh I don’t know if I got the English right)culture which influenced Judaism and Islam. Jews had been sent to exile in Mesopotamia and OT includes many of the Mesopotamian myths. As far as I remember – many years passed since I studied these – a few of the 10 commandments, the myth of Noah’s flood and the myth of creation is also present in the earlier Mesopotamian culture – not exactly the same, but in very similar ways. On the other hand, Egyptian culture has lent its understanding of afterlife to Abrahamic religions.

    If you are interested, you can read Mircea Eliade’s A History of Religious Ideas. He is the world famous authority on history of religions. He just explains phenomenologically; he doesn’t bring judgement but when I read these three volumes and saw all the archetypal understandings of religion throughout the world, I was really dismayed. I said: We are one variety/species of animal kingdom who display similar characteristics and that’s all there is to it. However, I said, if this is the fact, I want to accept it as truth rather than delude myself with some great Being watching over me and an afterlife.

  75. frustrated(mk)
    February 14th, 2009 @ 6:39 am

    I don’t see that God didn’t reveal Himself until Abraham.
    My understanding is that from the creation of the first man, He has had some sort of relationship with him.

    How many years of our faith history went unwritten. We know that MAN began recording his own relationship with God 6,000 years ago, but we have NO idea what that relationship was prior to that.

    Who knows how long before that the Cains and Abels were alive.

    History and recorded history are two different things.

    While I believe that the bible was inspired and indeed does give us an idea of how our salvation history took place, by no means do I believe that it is a factual documentary of what happened. Does a day mean a day? Does a year mean a year? Did God really wipe out entire nations? Did Adam and Eve really wear fig leafs? Were there really “fruit” trees that were forbidden? How much was allegory and how much was actual?

    We have no idea what or who people worshiped before this. We find a cave drawing or a rock formation and assume all sorts of stuff, but really the only thing we can KNOW is that early man liked to draw and play with rocks. You don’t accept WRITTEN testitmony, but you’re willing to postulate entire religions based on cave drawings?

    I’ve already conceded that man worshiped what he knew. The sun, animals, the planets. He used his imagination to fill in the blanks. Much like we do now.

    And I didn’t say that all religions that aren’t Christian came from satan. I said that some came from satan, some came from our imaginations, some came as close to the truth as possible given the time period.

    God’s revealing Himself to us has been a long and ongoing process. To get from point A (the creation of man) to point B (The Catholic Church as we know it today) was a long and arduous journey. Even with all we know, many still don’t believe. Yet, He continues to reveal Himself to us today.

    a few of the 10 commandments, the myth of Noah’s flood and the myth of creation is also present in the earlier Mesopotamian culture – not exactly the same, but in very similar ways. On the other hand, Egyptian culture has lent its understanding of afterlife to Abrahamic religions.

    Again, I don’t see the point here. We have no idea of when Noah’s flood took place and if it really covered the entire world or just Noah’s part of it. I’m sure there were many floods throughout history. Why does it have to be that we stole the idea of afterlife from the Egyptians? Why can’t it just be true that man has always had an understanding that there is life after death, and both the Egyptians and the Israelites acted on this knowledge. Just because someone does something first, it doesn’t mean that anyone that does it afterwards “stole” it from them.

    Did the Aztecs steal Sun worship from the Egyptians also? Or was there something about the sun that inspired awe? Did the Israelites steal the idea of life after death, or does death lead one to ask questions about it’s meaning?

    Did the second guy that ate food, do it because he stole the idea from the first guy that ate food? Did the second guy that decided taking from your neighbor was wrong, only come to that conclusion because the first guy did?

    If something is true, real, it can be discovered. Sometimes it’s discovered in two places at once…Asperger’s and Autism. Man’s brain is wired to go in a certain direction, so it would make sense that, independently, he has come to some of the same conclusions. The stars were there for all to see. Floods have happened since the beginning of time. Lightening, hurricanes, planets, life, birth, death, time…the odds are that there would be similar interpretations of these phenomena wherever there was man, don’t you think?

  76. nile
    February 14th, 2009 @ 7:13 am

    mk I did mention that after reading Eliade, I felt that whatever went on was just characteristic of the human species -say like bees making their homes or bears giving design to sticks.

    The only difference between you and me is that I find all this awe created by the human mind whereas you assume some intelligence.

    Why I think it was created by the human mind is due to the explanations of religions which I find conflicting both literally and in relation to science, and archeaological discoveries which are more than a cave with pictures – there are written tablets from Egypt, Mesopotamia, from the Orient like Bhagavad Gita, Veda’s, Upanishads etc. – but which a theist never accepts. Whereas I want to base my knowledge on history of religions, the theist always tries to find layers of meaning in sacred texts beyond what is literally said.

    So, as one of my theist muslim professors said:: “We hope and live that one day everybody will see we were right!” Until afterlife – if there is one – I don’t think this issue can be settled.

  77. Imanita
    December 12th, 2012 @ 1:54 am

    I have stumbled acorss your blog – don’t remember exactly how – but I just want to say thanks for sharing your stories with us! I also read the previous comment here, and I am also with Melaleuca, so I went back and read the article about you in the Feb. 2011 edition! I am so impressed and inspired by your faithfulness and your desire to follow God’s call in your lives. I also have a passion for missions and really enjoyed your post on STM.God bless you!

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