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Go to: Atheism is the true embrace of reality

Mariner's Avatar Jump to comment 77 by Mariner

Re Comment 61 & 74 by JHJ

First question, why do you say the catholic church could not have existed before Constantine? I gave a 2nd century quote from Ignatius of Antioch where he talks about the catholic church... just because the church was fragmented and persecuted before this point does not mean it couldn’t function as a consistent church with one leader. The pre Nicaea writings of those known as the Church Fathers demonstrate this comfortably.

Second I think you are confusing church teaching with a developing theology. The claim for consistency lies in the teaching, not in the undeveloped areas of theology which throughout the church's history have taken time to discuss and establish. The consistency when they are established is that none of them contradict previous declarations. The theology develops over time (as it still does today) because the depth of what the faith has to offer is constantly being unpacked. But the development does not contradict it only broadens and deepens.

What you have at the time of Christ is a church established by Him through Peter. The theology of the earliest church is best outlined through the letters of Paul, although not exclusively, and the Acts of the Apostles show the church practically at work. Where there is uncertainty or disagreement, voices come forth but always the decision is made (in Acts) by Peter because he has been given the keys to the kingdom. The apostles were scattered yes, but only geographically. Where is your evidence that the key players after Christ actually disagreed with each other on any fundamental doctrine?

Looking at one example, you previously made a big play on the uncertainty there was about the divinity of Christ and suggest that no-one could agree on this until Nicaea. But while Nicaea dealt with this issue because of Arius, it was he who was the exception and as the overwhelming conclusion of the council showed, little debate was needed to reject his claim. Christ’s divinity was part of the core teaching handed down. (That it rumbled on for another fifty years would obviously cause a lot of problems, but there was never any reversal of the council’s decision). As evidence that Christ’s divinity was the accepted teaching, you could looks at the gospels, which make the divinity of Christ clear. Or to quote some of the apparently dissenting voices you mentioned:

Clement of Alexandria: "The Word, then, the Christ, is the cause both of our ancient beginning-for he was in God-and of our well-being. And now this same Word has appeared as man. He alone is both God and man, and the source of all our good things" (Exhortation to the Greeks 1:7:1 [A.D. 190]).

Tertullian: "God alone is without sin. The only man who is without sin is Christ; for Christ is also God" (The Soul 41:3 [A.D. 210]).

Origen: "Although he was God, he took flesh; and having been made man, he remained what he was: God" (The Fundamental Doctrines 1:0:4 [A.D. 225]).

Going back to the point about teaching and developing theology, the authority of the church is crucial. It is the authority to decide what is true and not, given to Peter and subsequently handed down to each Bishop of Rome - Linus, Clement et al - that marks the teaching from developing theology. The practice of the Mass and delivery of the sacraments had been established. Belief in the life, death and resurrection of Christ was essential. The moral law inherited from the Jews and expanded in some ways by Jesus was the standard of life to be followed. The church was very much established.

I could run through your list of heresies: Donatists don't want to accept that priests who have led sinful lives (particularly those who had renounced Christ when under threat of death) can still administer the sacraments. That was not what the church had taught and so they formed a schism. Arius decided Jesus wasn't the Son of God - biggest problem for the church in its time, and so on. But the point is that these are all voices either going against what the church has already taught or voices who start out going against what is the accepted thinking and then after a decision is made where the church is going to on an issue, they maintain their objection – ultimately to no avail, The Arian controversy actual supports my argument because despite (at one point) most of the bishops in the church seeming to be on board or leaning towards it, the heresy was eventually rooted out and the church maintained its consistency of teaching.

To inverse the situation and place it is evolutionary terms, your argument seems to be saying that if Mr Dawkins employed someone who ultimately disagreed with his memes fantasy and proposed an opposing theory, that Mr Dawkins himself would be guilty of inconsistency in what he talked and wrote about. Like the meme theory that doesn’t make sense.

I like that you indicated by parentheses that the word "sin" must be interpolated into the Irenaeus passage. There were others who were nipping at this bud at the time, including Origen. But the concept did not acheive orthodoxy until Augustine.

Adam’s title, his inheritance was his sin. What else would it be? And so, my quote (and there are others if you want them) did demonstrate that Augustine did not invent original sin as you previously declared. And so what if the concept was not formalised until later – this is not inconsistency, this is a developing theology.

To look at it another way, if you take the current Catechism of the Catholic Church and look at a teaching and trace the history of that teaching you will not find in any previous declaration, or council, or in scripture itself (provided you look at scripture correctly, as a whole and not cherry pick) any contradiction to that teaching. This is the consistency. This is what John Henry Newman showed in his journey to Catholicism and detailed in his writings. And his starting point was not of one looking to be an apologist for the church, but someone seeking the truth of where dogma and doctrine had come from. He went back century by century and saw the consistent line all the way back to the beginning.

Regarding Constantine and the politics of the day, I am not saying that his motivations weren’t complex and opportunistic and that the piggybacking of the church onto the state machine wasn’t a poison chalice in many ways. Its just what happened and in some ways the church benefited from it and in other ways it lost something. But none of that affects the point of what I am arguing for.

As to summarizing the findings of the academics I cited, I respectfully decline. Get off you lazy Christian ass and find them yourself. And quit reading that Catholic crap--here we call that "Lying for Jesus."

And so you lose the argument by your contempt for the subject, your contempt for your opponent and your contempt for the legitimate source material that backs up my argument. You need to do some more research on how debates are conducted and understand that for example Mr Hitchens, does not stand up to his opponent and reference other writers or learned people without an indication of what they have said or what they mean. Nor would he shy away from questions about that source material as he would understand that if you bring it to the table you have to be prepared to explain it and defend it as your own. The laziness does not lie with me.

Comment 62 by NFT Mariner, comment 53 "The questions (sic) about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. Catechism of the Catholic Church 283" Mariner, comment 60 "The evidence is in the existence of the universe and life and human beings and the complete absence of any credible explanation from the scientific or other communities as to how that happened." Aren't you being a little inconsistent?

Got me! But still, no. There is no (alternative) credible explanation for how the universe started. There is plenty of splendidly enriching study of how it progressed after that start point, but then beyond that no credible explanation of how we went from no life to life. 0+0=1= no explanation. 1+1=2= Lots of explanation.

Comment 73 by Ignorant Amos But that is not accurate, there has not been one church consistent from the time of Christ, just because catholic doctrine says so, doesn't make it so. FFS the prefix "Roman" should tell you that it isn't the case Even today, the catholic church is made up of a number of traditions.

All of whom recognize the Pope as their spiritual leader and none of whom would have any practice or teaching within their particular rite that goes against Rome.

And I see Tyler has done his homework. I'll look forward to that one tomorrow. I am away for a bit so will get back to you next week. Regards.

Thu, 16 Jun 2011 23:46:15 UTC | #639425

Go to: Atheism is the true embrace of reality

Mariner's Avatar Jump to comment 71 by Mariner

Re Comment 70 - should have referenced Tyler, who it was aimed at. Response to JHJ coming later.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 20:21:22 UTC | #638993

Go to: Atheism is the true embrace of reality

Mariner's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by Mariner

No reply from the great and the good that were so sure of themselves?

To reiterate my argument, Paula Kirby's piece is well written but not conclusive. It is not logical to conclude that multiple positions on various Christian theological or moral issues equals no God, if it can be demonstrated that amongst those many positions there is one church that has maintained consistency on issues of morality and faith and that it has been in existence from the time of Christ and also that those other differing positions all come from people having rejected that same church and formed their own version of it. No one here has countered the logic of this argument and no-one has come up with any concrete examples of inconsistency in teaching.

I smell victory...

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 20:03:02 UTC | #638983

Go to: Atheism is the true embrace of reality

Mariner's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by Mariner

Comment 54 by Tyler Durden

Yes… why the bold on specific? I suspect a technical ‘aha’ is coming. Bring it on.

Comment 55 by God fearing Atheist The loony in a mental hospital can swear he is Napoleon. It doesn't make him Napoleon. It makes him a loon. Instead of providing evidence, you play work games. You are the one making extraordinary claims about sky fairies. How about stating exactly what your hypothesis is, and then coming up with the evidence. For instance, does your sky fairy grant wishes? If so, what is the spell, and do you think you could ask your sky fairy to regrow my aunt's amputated foot. Ta.

You can’t take the personal experiences of millions of people and write them of as invalid just because they don’t fit into your worldview. As much as you’d like to class all religious experiences as a form of mental illness or delusion the proof of such a view is not there. Your conclusion (as I suspect is conclusion of the JHJeffrey’s academics below, although I’ll reserve judgement) is based on a presupposition that God does not exist. As that presupposition is very firmly in place all possible explanations for why these things happen are only viewed through that filter. So you find it impossible to accept that when people have these experiences they are anything but deluded.

Measuring how these experiences change the brain, or the body temperature or whatever do not mean anything. The physical effects are one thing but the real evidence – in changed lives – goes way beyond any comparison to some guy who thinks he’s Napoleon.

Your worldview is based on a series of assumptions. All worldviews are. There is no technical data or science experiment that can say ‘yep, there we go, the universe definitely came about by chance.’ You may be very strict in what you allow to become part of your perspective through rules about what science can show as fact, but the starting point – is an assumption. Therefore, any worldview that challenges your starting point, and says ‘why couldn’t it have been this way?’ you should treat with more respect.

Also mass delusion or mass hysteria are overused terms and conveniently bandied about to describe events or experiences that are not understood.

My hypothesis is that God exists and that he created us all and that Jesus came to die for us and save us. The evidence is in the existence of the universe and life and human beings and the complete absence of any credible explanation from the scientific or other communities as to how that happened and my complete openness to the idea that God is real and responsible. The evidence is also in history, in the very real experiences of millions of people - hundreds of whom I have met, talked to or listened to. It is also in my own personal experience of a changed life. It is also in the reality of the Catholic Church which by all human standards should never have sustained a 2000 year old existence given some of the people who have been in charge of it and given the hundreds of movements within it that have sought to change or break it, and in which there is a consistent, unbroken line of teaching and authority dating back to Christ. Those are just a few.

Finally, words are important because if we are not careful about which words we use then people are more likely to misunderstand or misinterpret them. I make no claim about a sky fairy. The continued mis-naming of what Christians call God or Jesus comes across as childish. It make it look like you are not actually addressing the argument as it stands but instead hope to undermine it simply by presenting it as something other than it actually is. I am talking about the creator. And if you want me to pray for your aunt I will.

Comment 56 by JHJEFFERY Just to restrict the study to pre-Catholic issues, the Gnostic Gospels almost uniformly contended that Jesus was a man and a teacher of "special or secret knowlege." There were, by admittedly faulty memory, about a dozen of these, In other words there were more disenfranchised gospels than were accepted after the Council of Niaea in 325 CE. The Manichees, who followed another of the many first century magicians, also recognized Christ as a prophet. As Christianity (quite slowly) spread after the death of its titular founder, its doctrines diverged as would be expected of an isolated species in evolution. By the time Christianity became legal and even approved (312 CE) Christians had differed as to whether Jesus was a man, a prophet, a messenger, the son of god, or god incarnate, and, if the latter, whether he was ensouled at his human birth or had always been divine.

"Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

The above is written by Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius was one of the first generation following the disciples. The church did not come into being in the mid-fourth century, it was there from the start. So there is no pre-catholic dogma. There were different voices within the church and the Manichean controversy is a good example of that – but those voices did not have authority, the church held onto authority very clearly and dismissed those voices that preached a gospel that diverged from the tradition passed down by the first disciples. Those versions never became dogma, they were just dissenting voices within the church. I understand why this is not on everyone’s radar, because the protestant Christian movement has a vested interest in saying much the same as you do. But if you study church history then it is quite clear there was only one established Christian Church in those early centuries (in fact right up until the end of the first millennium). Also the gnostic gospels were all written much later than the gospels selected for the Bible. The reason the Bible was authenticated was because too many false accounts were emerging.

Chastity of the priest caste was a middle-ages idea designed to prevent clergy from leaving their inheritance to heirs instead of to the church.

Celibacy for priests is a discipline as opposed to a doctrine. Thus – if this is your point – it is not actually an issue about faith and morals but something to church requires priests to accept at the moment. There are exceptions and in theory, it could change again. You say the reason this discipline was introduced was financial – I would be interested in learning your source for that assessment. My understanding is that the reason was (as is today) that the demands of priestly life – i.e. long hours, unsociable hours, moving from place to place – are not fitting for family life and that the grace received from the sacrifice of celibacy will help the priest in the daily battle that is his job. Idealistic huh?

More--there's so much more!--The trinity is not in the Bible. It was invented by two Gregorys and a Basil (or vice versa) in the late fourth century.

Yes the doctrine of Trinity is not in the Bible. Although in Matthew 28:19, Jesus instructs the apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Which is pretty clear that something that sounds a lot like the Trinity is being talked about. The precise understanding of what the Trinity is (three divine persons in one divine being) was there from early on and what you are misunderstanding is that when there is a council making a declaration about some aspect of the faith, it is not the first time that issue is being invented or even understood, it often means that other voices have started to say something contrary and the church has felt the need to clarify what the teaching is so people don’t get confused. Whether you mean to make a point of criticism about a teaching not being in the Bible, them that’s an argument to throw at sola-scriptura protestants, but not catholics as the teaching on the reality of faith comes from tradition and the Bible.

Original sin was invented by Augustine.

Original sin was not invented by Augustine, he is just famous for writing a lot about it. If you understand what the church says about original sin (i.e. that it is the stain of Adam’s sin passed on throughout all people, making us naturally inclined to commit sins ourselves (rather than the idea that a new born child has done something sinful or that original sin is sex – both of which are common fallacies) then you can see from the following early 2nd century quote that it predated Augustine by some time.

"But this man . . . is Adam, if the truth be told, the first-formed man. . . . We, however, are all from him; and as we are from him, we have inherited his title [of sin]" (Iranaeus Against Heresies 3:23:2 [inter A.D. 180-190]).'

Saint Bellarmine, BTW, was sainted primarily because he had G. Bruno burned alive for his heresy of heliocentrism (as Galileo, more famously was not burned). The Church now embraces heliocentrism, evolution, and other concepts which it originally opposed.

That may be your opinion but I think there was much more the Bellarmine than that. And Bruno’s heresy went far and wide. If it had just been his views on heliocentrism then he would have got away with it – as Galileo did. It is important to note that in these favourite cases, the churches opposition to heliocentrism at the time was based on the fact that it could not be proved. Copernicus had said it already but put it forward only as a theory. It was Galileo’s insistence that it was a fact that got him into trouble. The church has never opposed evolution – see my quote to Tyler above (from the Catechism).

Lets forget about the burning of witches.

Let’s, because the Catholic Church never really got involved in that. It was more of a Protestant thing.

Enough? Do you really know the history of your religion?

Not nearly and at the very least more than you do.

Please note the double standard. You have accused me of not reading some detailed academic source for the idea that the religious experience is just a psychological phenomenon, and therefore not doing my homework – but then present a list of inaccurate statements about how certain church teachings came to be. I have clarified them for you but by your standard I should have just given you list of books to read.

Summarise the findings of your academics and I will engage.

Sun, 12 Jun 2011 20:57:06 UTC | #637689

Go to: Atheism is the true embrace of reality

Mariner's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by Mariner

Comment 48 by God fearing Atheist Now change your story to "children" and "Father Christmas". Millions of children see the evidence for FC - presents. When they grow up they get another explanation - parents. If they continue to believe in FC when they are 32, in their own home, and with their own kids, they are in for a shock. So what "presents" do you get from your god that cannot be explained by your belief in god being a mass delusion?

What viewpoints do you have that can’t be explained by an unconscious determination not to believe in God because of the problems it might cause you?

I thought that one loaded question deserved another.

Comment 49 by ConnedCatholic So are you one of us or one of them?

One of us or one of them… there’s an interesting choice of words. I suppose the labels are always necessary before you start herding ‘them’ into the railway carriages.

Comment 50 by Tony d You said personal testimony was your best evidence for the existence of God.

I actually presented as an example of evidence not necessarily the best. I think the historical evidence is just as compelling, As is the simple conundrum that something cannot come from nothing. I could go on…

Next time you two are having a chat why not ask God why he doesn't speak to everyone else and put a stop to all religious disputes?

He’s trying to speak to everyone right now. But are they listening? Freewill. Pride. Bad catechesis. Religious wolves in sheep’s clothing. Atheists too. All sorts of voices out there competing for our attention. People get confused.

If he doesn't fancy that why not ask him to suggest to the Pope ,at a quite moment perhaps when he is taking a crap in his solid gold toilet, why he doesn't sell half the treasure held in the Vatican and give the money raised to the poor?

The church already does more for the poor than any other institution in the world. And as we all should know, throwing money at a problem isn’t always the best solution. If the Vatican sold all its art then what? In terms of actually making a difference it would be a drop in the ocean. It would be like you giving up your life’s work and standing alone penniless with nothing to pass onto your children just so someone else can eat for a few months. Money is a factor but people are the solution.

You could also ask zombie Jesus, if them biscuits really do magically transform into his flesh during mass why he feels the need to be eaten?

Jesus is very much alive. There’s no magic involved and I’m sure he doesn’t ‘need’ to be eaten. Aside from that you’re spot on.

Comment 51 by Tyler Durden What is the teaching of the catholic church with regard to (a) slavery, (b) idolatry, (c) homosexuality, and (d) evolution?. Please cite the specific source from which you reference these teachings.

It could be entrapment…

But I’ll give it a go.

Slavery “The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason – selfish or ideological, commercial or totalitarian – lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard to their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit. St Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave ‘no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, as a beloved brother… both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 2414

Note that the teaching against slavery started as an individual response, exhorting those Christians involved in it to change their attitude rather than the church mounting a campaign to get slavery abolished. It wouldn’t have had the teeth or power to do so and such grass roots political campaigns are a relatively modern phenomena. Obviously William Wilberforce was a committed Christian.

Idolatry "Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry when he honours and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons, power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money etc. An idolater is someone who transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God." Catechism of the Catholic Church 2113-4 (selected, as its rather long)

Do not fall into the trap of thinking statues and paintings are idols. They are simply images and there is a difference. Idolatry is not about the ‘thing’ but about an individual’s attitude towards that ‘thing.’

Homosexuality "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms throughout the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, Tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine and effective sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition. For most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. … Homosexual persons are called to chastity."
Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357-9

Evolution "The questions about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers." Catechism of the Catholic Church 283

Note that evolution isn't specifically mentioned because its nothing to do with faith or morals. The above actually comes from a section in the catechism about creation. The acceptance or non-acceptance of evolutionary theory as fact is up to to individuals.

Comment 52 by JHJEFFERY Have you met the Catholic Church that resides here on planet Earth? Do you know anything at all about its history. No one who does could possibly make such a ridiculous statement. Cathollc dogma, even and especially pre-Catholic dogma varied from time to time and place to place on a massive scale.

Outrage at my claim does not constitute a counter claim. I am interested to know what ‘pre-Catholic dogma’ is. Can you give me an example?

Psychologists who study the religious conversion experience have identified the factors conducive to such an experience and can predict which people will have them. The actually physical manifestation of the Jesus epiphany is esophogeal spasms.

So which people do they say will have them? I want to know if I'm in the target category. What sort of success rates have they had with these predictions? And if someone has a religious experience but no esophogeal spasm, what then? It all sounds a bit thin and hokey but if you can expand I'm open to persausion.

Here are some of the studies that will tell you why you had your Jesus encounter: Adler, Theodore R. Sarbin and Nathan. "Self-Reconstituting Process: A Preliminary Report." The Psychoanalytic Review 57 (1979): 599-616. etc. The articles referenced are available on line for a small fee, or, if you are near a college, may be accessed free.

So, for me to investigate your counter argument you want me to either pay a fee or go to a college and look up a load of academic citations. Are you serious? Please make your own arguments or do not bother.

Sun, 12 Jun 2011 00:39:13 UTC | #637364

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