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← In Defense of Dawkins’s Reason Rally Speech

Cartomancer's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by Cartomancer

All this should really have been self-evident to the carping critics of Richard's speech. I suspect much of it was. But we all know that the inherent reasonableness of a statement is no barrier to the activities of the carping critic with a word count to fill by 5pm...

Though I will take this opportunity to point out that, technically, "transubstantiation" is not synonymous with "the eucharist". Technically "transubstantiation" is just one metaphysical explanation for the way in which the miracle of the eucharist is supposed to happen (albeit the officially prescribed catholic explanation from the first Lateran Council of 1215 onward). "Transubstantiation" means that the "substantial form" of the bread and wine is switched with that of the body and blood of christ while the "accidents" of the bread and wine remain (the look, shape, taste, texture and so forth). The two most prominent alternative explanations, which fought it out with transubstantiation during the twelfth century debates of Berengar, Roscelin, Abelard and ohers, were "consubstantiation" (which posits that whatever is on the altar ends up with both sets of substance together under the bread and wine accidents) and annihilationism (which posits that the miracle literally erases the bread and wine from existence, replacing them wholesale with flesh and blood that, conveniently, just happen to have all the accidents of that bread and that wine, but numerically distinct versions thereof).

So, technically, a catholic does not have to believe in the reality of transubstantiation. Technically all they have to believe is that the eucharist really happens and that it really is the body and blood literally there on the altar, rather than a symbolic or metaphorical ritual. They don't have to assent to a particular metaphysical explanation of how it happens (they can just leave it as a mystery), though if they do get into the analysis game and assent to one then they are generally required to assent to transubstantiation.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 12:44:30 UTC | #931881