Lenten reflections from CATHOLICISM, Week 5

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55 Responses to Lenten reflections from CATHOLICISM, Week 5

  1. Toadspittle says:

    With friends like this, who needs Toad?

    [This second video was deleted.]

    Still, as long as they all enjoy themselves…

    [Toad, if you are going to post heretical videos on CP&S, you will return to the ‘Moderation’ setting!]

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  2. GC says:

    Oh dear, that brought quite a few tears to the eyes. No, not you Toad. About St Edith Stein, a philosopher (right up your alley).

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  3. kathleen says:

    St. Edith Stein is one of my favourite saints too GC. Have you read her dissertation on the Holy Trinity? I think it is one of the most outstanding spiritual works, and surprisingly it is mostly unknown. (Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the book where I read it; it was one chapter in a compilation of her writings.)

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  4. kathleen says:

    Toad,
    I have seen this video of Michael Voris before, and I admit I was rather surprised at the time by Fr. Robert Barron’s* words about Hell. It is not actually strict Catholic teaching.
    Yet he says: “We have to accept the POSSIBILITY of Hell” – so in other words, he is not denying its existence. The hope that “everyone should be saved” is the charitable hope we should all have for our fellow men. However, as we have said before, this is not (unfortunately) a very realistic “hope”. God will always respect a person’s Free Will to reject Him till the bitter end of their lives.

    The thought of anyone, no matter how evil, being in Hell for all eternity is just so horrific and tragic it should make us double our efforts to pray and make sacrifices for all those in mortal sin who are on the road there. We should beg for the graces necessary to avoid Hell for ourselves, and for all grave sinners, to be converted before it is too late and to fling themselves on God’s loving Mercy.

    * Fr. Barron has done a lot of wonderful work for the Church, as his many videos, books and the CATHOLICISM series has shown. Pray for him and for his detractors.

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  5. Toadspittle says:

    Lovely ,Kathleen. Splendid bit of “snivelling, or grovelling,” , or something very like… going on here.
    Anyway, my position (which is, naturally, of no particular interest to hardly anyone else on here ) is that the entire idea of any human, no matter how apparently – or even actually – wicked – on Earth – EVER doing anything that would incur a “punishment” for all eternity – is an idiotic thought.
    And what’s more, If God were to “allow,” even lip service to such a hideous state of affairs (let alone as much as allow it) He would be a such monster that we should instantly and utterly repudiate the rascal.
    And rightly so.

    But I don’t think God is actually wicked and cruel.
    But then, I’m not sure He’s anything. But I don’t know. But, I’m fairly confident about what He’s not.

    …And we will put Kathleen down as a vote for Voris. Better hair.
    OK.

    “The thought of anyone, no matter how evil, being in Hell for all eternity is just so horrific and tragic it should make us double our efforts to pray and make sacrifices for all those in mortal sin who are on the road there.

    But, how – even remotely logically and or reasonably – can such a patently absurd state of affairs – going to eternal Hell – for non-eternal sins – ever happen, in a decent, reasonable, logical and sane world?

    It makes no sense! It is absurd!

    None of us could ever be remotely “‘bad” enough. Not Hitler, not even Toad.
    …Our sins, however “mortal” (even such undeniable horrors as eating bacon sandwiches on Fridays, for example, or missing Mass deliberately) surely don’t merit boiling in eternal oil, like kippers, until Kingdom Come, and even beyond that?

    On a personal note, it was suggested to me, by a priest in the 1950’s, that I might very well go to Hell, for all eternity, for doing a newspaper delivery round on a Sunday.(“Servile work”.)
    …What he was doing on a Sunday, himself, was not apposite, apparently.

    Work? Yes. Servile?
    No – in his case- just God and Father
    In my case, just me – and the News of the World, and the Observer.
    Well, OK. Here I am.
    Damned, very likely..

    Comments on one side of the paper, please.
    What a wonderful world.

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  6. kathleen says:

    “…And we will put Kathleen down as a vote for Voris. Better hair.”

    Nope. I have it on good grounds – it’s a wig! 😆

    Dear Toad, I just wish you would stop disfiguring (unintentionally, I hope) the “Face” of God. Your “fear of God” is out of all proportion. God is not just “good”; He is Goodness itself. He is Mercy and Love. He “punishes” no one – we punish ourselves by refusing Him and His Immense Love by our wrongdoing. He came to suffer and die to save us from our sins. He has “prepared a place” for us in Heaven – that is our true Home. If we slam the door on His invitation to “carry our cross and follow Him”, we are CHOOSING an existence far from the Beatific Vision. That is what Hell is all about – absence of God. Nothing is more painful than to be far from the One for Whom we were made.
    (But you know all this really, don’t you?)

    How I hope and pray that one day you will come to see how much God loves you.

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  7. Toadspittle says:

    “He “punishes” no one – we punish ourselves by refusing Him and His Immense Love by our wrongdoing.”

    …Can we get sent to Hell for deliberately missing Mass on Sunday, for example?
    If so, isn’t that a bit harsh? Eternal damnation?

    And…didn’t at least one of those peasant children to whom the Virgin occasionally appears – report that Mary told her outright, “God would punish sinners,” for something or other – can’t remember what, not saying enough rosaries, or suchlike, I suppose?
    …Do I remember that right?
    Kathleen will know, I know.

    “God will always respect a person’s Free Will to reject Him till the bitter end of their lives.”
    Nobody “rejects” God. It is impossible. What they do reject is the “idea” of God.
    Not the same thing at all.

    I love my dogs, and if they could talk, and tell me; “We hate you, and we want to go to Hell,” my answer would be, “You can hate me all you like, but you are not going to Hell, whether you want to, or not. It’s nasty there, and you wouldn’t enjoy it. You just don’t know what you are barking about. Now, shut up – and fetch that ball.”

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  8. kathleen says:

    Ah, but Toad, your beloved hounds do not have Free Will… unlike their master! 😉

    “Nobody “rejects” God. It is impossible. What they do reject is the “idea” of God.
    Not the same thing at all.”

    You are wrong there Toad. Unbelievable though it might seem to you, there really are those who do “reject God”. Not just the “idea” of God, but God Himself. (Look up at my previous comment ^ as to what that means.)
    If you have made evil your “god” (the Devil, IOW) the very idea of being in the Presence of the Love and Holiness of the One True God would be absolutely unbearable. This soul would prefer to be where he/she belongs i.e. in Hell !!

    Yes it is a terrible terrible thing to admit – no words can properly describe such horror – and therefore we can never repeat often enough how we should pray constantly for the conversion of sinners.
    “I say unto you that likewise there shall be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine just persons, who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7)

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  9. Toadspittle says:

    “This soul would prefer to be where he/she belongs i.e. in Hell !!”

    Oh, well – if what you are saying, Kathleen – is that some people would prefer to go Hell rather than to heaven. This despite the fact that we know virtually nothing about either place.
    However, if that is the case, then certainly such foolish people must be allowed to go where they will be happiest.
    Personally, I’d sooner go to Heaven. Sounds rather boring (Unamuno agrees) – but, at least, not actually painful.

    ….No word regarding the messages, from Mary to the semi-literate peasant children, re God’s threatened “punishments.”
    (Never appears to adults: Odd, that.)
    Did answering that bit slip your mind?

    Do you realise that, according to your analysis, in order to reject God, you’d have first to believe in Him? In which case, the only damned souls in Hell will be devout believers. No Dawkins! No agnostics!! Another excellent reason for not wanting to go there.
    (Not that I’d much care to spend eternity with Dickie, either.)

    LAST WORD: If I had the power to prevent anyone, (yes, Hitler, Stalin, Vlad the Impaler, or Dawkins even) who wanted to go to Hell, from doing so – I’d use it, regardless of whether or not they hated me for doing so.
    ….Wouldn’t you?

    Very important topic, I think.

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  10. Toadspittle says:

    “He (God) “punishes” no one – “

    That’s not what his Mother says.

    “When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is going to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.”

    …What on earth are we to believe?

    …Although I will ask, when, in history, did God not “punish the world” by means of war and famine, etc.?

    Had to look all this up. A shocking affront to Toad’s laziness.

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  11. Tom Fisher says:

    The strongest discernible influence on Kathleen’s remarks in this thread is the late great C.S. Lewis. It’s pleasingly ecumenical!

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  12. Tom Fisher says:

    Re the video, Michael Voris vs Hans Urs Von Balthasar is no contest at all.

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  13. Toadspittle says:

    “The strongest discernible influence on Kathleen’s remarks in this thread is the late great C.S. Lewis. It’s pleasingly ecumenical!”

    What a stimulating viewpoint, Tom.
    Protestant. Heretic. Probably toasting in Hell right now, if Voris is to be believed.
    Funny old world, innit? Both this one and the next, when you think about it.
    (Is it all right to call him, “Baldy Voris,” then? …I think so.)

    I promise I’m not intentionally disfiguring the Face of God, Kathleen. I don’t know if He’s got a face or not. Maybe He’s got three.
    Anyway, I’m assuming that, if I’m wrong about Him, He will forgive me because I’m ignorant and stupid, and so it’s not my fault. So I no longer “fear” Him, like I did when I was seven.
    …Because He’s a kind God. Though why I should think that, in the face of a mountain of contrary evidence, I can’t really imagine.

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  14. kathleen says:

    Toad, sorry, couldn’t get back to you yesterday…

    You say we know little about Heaven and Hell, but we have been told by the saints that if we could see Heaven whilst we were still here on Earth we would be so mesmerised with ecstasy, we would be unable to go on living. We have Our Lord’s promise of its wonders and joy “for those who love and serve God”, and that is enough.
    St. Paul tells us that “it is written, that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).
    And I hardly need to remind you of the horrific descriptions Our Blessed Lord gives us about Hell, do I? It simbolises the utter despair of those who, having refused His Love and Mercy to the bitter end, are unable to enjoy the Beatific Vision.

    Re Fatima, and Our Lady’s use of the word “punishment” for sins. Yes, if we understand the word to mean the natural consequence of breaking the Divine commandments, this could well be the correct translated word.
    What do you want Toad, to have your ‘cake’ and eat it at the same time? Can’t have it both ways! 😉
    If we sin willfully, we are choosing to separate ourselves from God. We should repent and turn back, or else we are choosing a path that leads eventually to Hell.

    Heaven’s election of children preferably (not exclusively) to impart messages and warnings can be explained by their obvious innocence and lack of guile, as compared to the cunningness and ability to deceive of many adults. Under the close scrutiny of the examiners little children would hardly be able to stick to a fabricated story, but the children of Fatima, Lourdes, La Sallette etc., never backed down from the truth of their heavenly visions.

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  15. Tom Fisher says:

    Anyway, I’m assuming that, if I’m wrong about Him, He will forgive me because I’m ignorant and stupid, and so it’s not my fault. So I no longer “fear” Him, like I did when I was seven.
    …Because He’s a kind God. Though why I should think that, in the face of a mountain of contrary evidence, I can’t really imagine.

    We shall all meet merrily in heaven hereafter, I have no doubt 🙂

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  16. Toadspittle says:

    “…but we have been told by the saints that if we could see Heaven whilst we were still here on Earth we would be so mesmerised with ecstasy, we would be unable to go on living. “

    …How do they know?
    I assume it did’t happen to them, or they wouldn’t be around to tell the rest of us.
    …And wouldn’t they be a teeny bit “biased”?

    “What do you want Toad, to have your ‘cake’ and eat it at the same time? Can’t have it both ways! ;-).”
    What cake? Pie in the sky? What I would like is a bit of clarity.
    First we are told God doesn’t punish us, and then we are told He does.
    Which is it?
    Is leprosy, or an earthquake, “punishment,” for breaking the Divine commandments, or for Original Sin? Or both? Or either? Or neither?

    (Not my business, but you don’t seem to get a lot of back-up from anyone on here.
    Neither do I, but I don’t expect it.)

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  17. mkenny114 says:

    Seeing as C. S. Lewis has been mentioned, I thought it may be helpful if I posted a link to what he actually has to say about Hell:

    http://www.bestlibraryspot.com/fantasticfiction/The_Problem_of_Pain/14750.html

    Covers a lot of stuff that El Toad has been questioning. Not that this will necessarily convince of course, but it may help to clarify some things, particularly the nature of eternity and the doctrine of free will. For my part, I’m not quite sure why it is that God would allow us freedom of the will during this life (with all that that entails) and then usurp it in the next. Bearing in mind that a central assumption for this debate is that God exists and that there is an afterlife, I don’t know what point there would be in this life at all if we were all automatically transported to a state of blessedness, regardless of the choices we have made in this life, and the general ‘form’ of our soul developed over the course of a lifetime.

    Also, regarding the idea that to reject God we first have to believe in Him, this presupposes that those who don’t believe in God haven’t in some way actually rejected Him (which of course brings us back to the question of whether either agnosticism or atheism are really justified or not). There are many who claim not to believe in God based on the evidence available, whereas their choice is really because they resent the existence of a standard that their lives have to be conformed to. In each individual case, only God knows the truth of the matter, but it certainly seems clear that pleading ‘I don’t believe so I can’t be judged’ is not good enough in a lot of those cases. As I said though, only God knows to what extent any person has rejected Him (whether overtly or by rejecting Goodness and Truth in practice), and all stand under both His judgement and His mercy – we must always hope in the latter, but cannot ignore the former.

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  18. mkenny114 says:

    Also, re punishment, firstly it would be an affront to justice if people like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc did not receive some sort of retribution for their deeds. Nevertheless, I would contend that it is not so much the deeds themselves that lead to Hell, but the will that over time had become more and more turned away from the Good (and therefore from God) and turned inwards on themselves.

    In fact, one could say that these people only became capable of committing the terrible acts they did because of this prior distortion of the will – which distortion may have begun with small acts of dishonesty, negligence, omission of kindness, etc. It is when small acts of disobedience go unchecked that an individual soul becomes gradually desensitised to evil, and as this process progresses can become capable of great evil. Thus it is the disposition of the will (the turning away from God, as Kathleeen has mentioned in earlier comments) that is the primary reason that someone would end up in Hell, and the rationale for our saying that they effectively send themselves there.

    They receive punishment as a due consequence of their own deeds, which emerge naturally from a perverted will shaped by the free choices made during a lifetime. Ultimately some people will become incapable of either giving or receiving love, and thus the love of God becomes unbearable – something Kathleen also rightly mentioned.

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  19. Tom Fisher says:

    Bearing in mind that a central assumption for this debate is that God exists and that there is an afterlife, I don’t know what point there would be in this life at all if we were all automatically transported to a state of blessedness, regardless of the choices we have made in this life, and the general ‘form’ of our soul developed over the course of a lifetime.

    If you can’t see any point in this life without believing some people are damned, then that’s your own look out. But it’s a twisted and dark view of the world. Look to your conscience.

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  20. mkenny114 says:

    ‘If you can’t see any point in this life without believing some people are damned, then that’s your own look out. But it’s a twisted and dark view of the world. Look to your conscience.’

    I guess (as usual) I haven’t made myself clear enough here. What I meant was that it is hard to see what purpose there would be in us spending our earthly lives forming ourselves by making free choices, if the result of that exercise ultimately had no importance. I am not saying that life has no point unless we can believe some people are damned!

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  21. mkenny114 says:

    Another way of putting it might be that if we are all to end up in heaven regardless, why the need to go through this vale of soul-making in the first place – couldn’t we have just been created in a state of blessedness without all the trials of earthly existence? I would genuinely be interested in your answer to this question.

    More importantly though, I will say again that I do not desire the damnation of anyone, and I am a bit offended (as well as perplexed that you would draw that conclusion) at the intimation that this is the case.

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  22. Tom Fisher says:

    Well in response mkenny114, I would simply say, no one has suggested that the exercise of our free choices ultimately has no importance…

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  23. Tom Fisher says:

    Another way of putting it might be that if we are all to end up in heaven regardless, why the need to go through this vale of soul-making in the first place – couldn’t we have just been created in a state of blessedness without all the trials of earthly existence? I would genuinely be interested in your answer to this question.

    Isn’t this question ultimately about ‘why did God create anything at all, given that God is self-sufficient’? — But surely our faith teaches that God created the world because the freely chosen love between creator and created is the greatest good there can be. And this world is one where that choice can be truly free, God is not irresistibly imminent, but not impossible to discern either.
    To my mind the reason we are not created in a state of bliss is that our choice for God is a greater good

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  24. mkenny114 says:

    Thank you Tom for your reply.

    I see a bit more of where you are coming from now, but I still don’t see how this irons out the problems that true free will entails. For instance, you say:

    ‘To my mind the reason we are not created in a state of bliss is that our choice for God is a greater good’

    But this is the whole issue at hand is it not – our CHOICE for God. What if we choose the self over God? What if the will of a given individual becomes so turned in on itself that it cannot (or will not – at a certain point the distinction starts to blur) accept the love of God?

    If one then says that God will somehow trump this decision to love the self over and above anything else, then this begs the question as to why there was the need for the earthly process of free choosing which shapes our selves and forms our relationship with God. If, after deciding through a lifetime of decision-making that we prefer our own self to any of God’s created goods, let alone God Himself (who is indeed the greatest good), and then this self-orientation will ultimately be undone, what was the point of our growing into a relationship with God in the first place? Do you see what I mean?

    Again I would reiterate that nobody knows to what extent someone would have to become turned in on themselves to become beyond God’s love; my only point is that the issue of free-will here is a very real one, and needs to be addressed.

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  25. Tom Fisher says:

    mkenny114,

    Thanks for your reply, I think that you make a good a argument against easygoing ‘universalism’. I would tend to accept that the horror of damnation can’t be dismissed, or ruled out. My thinking on this issue is very much influenced by Hans Balthasar, 20th Century German theologian. — Hell cannot be denied by the Christian as a possibility. The structure of human freedom in the choice for God implies the possibility of the rejection of God. But the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross reaches into hell itself, and the Christian has grounds for hope, NOT certainty, but hope, that hell may prove empty.

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  26. mkenny114 says:

    Thanks again for your reply Tom.

    Yes, I think I’d agree with most of what you say here, and it is certainly the difficulty of denying the possibility of Hell that I am really getting at here – as you say, ‘the structure of human freedom in the choice for God implies the possibility of the rejection of God’. I think we are both in full agreement here.

    I also agree with what you say about the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross having a much greater reach than we can every possibly imagine, and I am aware of von Balthasar’s work in this area. The point at which I would probably part company with him though, is that I don’t think he does enough justice to the full scope of scriptural data on this topic (e.g.; citing 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Timothy 2:4 over and against John 17:12 etc). But then, when there are two ‘voices’ on any given article of the Faith, this is where the Magisterium comes in 🙂

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  27. kathleen says:

    Tom,

    I wasn’t sure what you meant by your remark at 7:28 by my comments being “ecumenical“! Thanks to Mike Kenny I can now read the link of C.S. Lewis’s words on Hell, which quite honestly I don’t remember reading before… so can hardly have drawn on them for my answers to Toad! (I thought that everything I’d said had been Catholic teaching on the doctrine of Hell.) However, Lewis was a very Catholic-hearted Christian IMHO, so no problem there. 🙂

    If you have a spare half hour, you might be interested in the discussion of Michael Voris with the amazingly resourceful Fr. Z, and respected priest Fr. Scanlon. They talk about the very same things we have all brought up here in the comments above.

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  28. Toadspittle says:

    Well, if it is a wig – it’s not a bad one.

    But back to more frivolous matters.

    1: Surely, at times, we must over-ride free will. For example we must stop other people using their free will to hurt themselves, or others. We prevent a child’s free will to run into a road. We prevent a rapist from exercising free will as he likes.
    This is why I would use my free will to prevent any human being going to Hell, if I could.
    Of course, I can’t do that. Not in my power. In God’s though. Apparently.

    2: “There are many who claim not to believe in God based on the evidence available, whereas their choice is really because they resent the existence of a standard that their lives have to be conformed to.” How do you know those people don’t mean exactly what they claim, Michael? Visions?
    3: “… re punishment, firstly it would be an affront to justice if people like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc did not receive some sort of retribution for their deeds.”
    Indeed it would, Michael, and it is a shame if they weren’t duly and severely punished. But ..for alleternity? That’s the big question here, which is never answered.
    4: Is it a mortal sin to deliberately miss Mass on Sundays? And what happens to those who die in mortal sin? Surely someone can answer that? (Forget the rest of it, if you like.)

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  29. kathleen says:

    OK Toad, seeing as how no one else has answered your question number 4, I’ll have a go.

    Yes, deliberately missing Mass on Sunday is usually a mortal sin. (There might be mitigating factors here that we won’t go into now.)
    By deliberately refusing to fulfill the third commandment, “Thou shalt keep holy the Lord’s day”, you are in effect saying that God is not first and foremost in my life, or simply, that I refuse to obey Your command and shall do what I want to do rather than honour and adore You. This is grave matter.

    Whether this one mortal sin would send someone to Hell or not, I cannot say, but if it were a one off thing, that seems highly unlikely. A person who has tried to lead a good life in every other way would hopefully be given the grace to repent from this sin at the moment of death. This is when we are told by the Church (and through the revelations to St. Faustina of the Divine Mercy) that there is an outpouring of grace for sinners to make their final choice for God, or to refuse Him.
    Unfortunately, deliberately refusing to attend Mass – IOW, conscientiously, willfully and knowingly doing so – is often a sign of a rotting away of all the other virtues too. It would not be the normal decision of a person who was striving to follow the Divine Law of God in every other way.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

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  30. mkenny114 says:

    G’Day Toad,

    In reply to your first three questions (as Kathleen has already provided a very good response to the fourth):

    1. Re free will, what I was really asking is whether it makes any sense for us to be given the full reign of our free will in this life only for it to be overridden in the next. If (for the sake of argument) one posits that the reason we are given free will now is so that we can grow into relationship with God and orient our souls towards the Good, then if, after a lifetime’s forming one’s soul in one way or another it doesn’t actually matter because those decisions will be overridden, what was the point in the initial exercise?

    2. I don’t know that any given individual doesn’t mean what they claim at all – but I am pretty certain that this is often the case, and that simply saying to God ‘there wasn’t enough proof’ (copyright Bertrand Russell) won’t necessarily cut the mustard if there were actually ulterior motives for not believing. Just to repeat though – no knowledge of the state of anyone’s soul has been given to me 🙂

    3. The question of punishment being eternal is certainly the biggest issue here I agree. If you take a look at the link I posted earlier on to C. S. Lewis’ thoughts on Hell though, he has some useful things to say about this – they may help or they may not, I don’t know, but I certainly found them helpful.

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  31. Toadspittle says:

    “…there wasn’t enough proof’ (copyright Bertrand Russell)” No need to copyright that, Michael, as Russell didn’t ever say it.
    What he did say, when asked what he’d reply if he found himself, after death, standing before God who asked him, “Why didn’t you believe in me, Bertie?”
    “I’d say, because you didn’t give me enough evidence,” was Russell’s answer.

    “Proof” and “Evidence” being two entirely separate things, amazingly enough; Like “Faith” and “Certainty” – or “Laurel” and “Hardy ” – or “Gin” and “Tonic.”
    You can’t have, “enough proof” of something (such as water boiling at 100% C, or that it’s raining outside, or that Socrates is mortal, or that earthquakes are the result of Original Sin) You can just have proof. (If there is any, of course.)
    It’s silly to say, “Yes, I agree that’s quite a lot of proof, but it’s not enough proof for me,” now isn’t it?

    (Pedantic old twit, Toad. But it matters.)

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  32. mkenny114 says:

    Dear Toad,

    Yes, sorry about that – I was paraphrasing Russell there (the ‘copyright’ was meant as a nod to him rather than a real affirmation that that was exactly what he said).

    But as you say, I should have chosen my words more carefully – there is a difference between ‘proof’ and ‘evidence’ and you are right – it does matter. Thank you for the clarification 🙂

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  33. Ponder Anew says:

    3. Whew. Eternity. I know, I never comment, but if I may, could I offer a little conversational healing balm? Here’s hoping it is accepted as such anyway. Here goes: “Eternity’ is definitely a mental struggle since time immemorial-pun intended, in that it is exactly this modern, “time” conception of eternity that plays with our heads and makes it a difficult concept.
    I find great solace in Aquinas’ perspectives. Here is a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia> Thomas Aquinas> Eternity. (sorry for the biased source , Toad, but Aquinas can give some clarity here).

    “Before Abraham was, I am.” Eternity, therefore, as predicated of God, does not mean indefinite duration in time — a meaning in which the term is sometimes used in other connections — but it means the total exclusion of the finiteness which time implies. We are obliged to use negative language in describing it, but in itself eternity is a positive perfection, and as such may be best defined in the words of Boethius as being “interminabilis vitae tota simul et perfecta possessio,” i.e. possession in full entirety and perfection of life without beginning, end, or succession.

    The eternity of God is a corollary from His self-existence and infinity. Time being a measure of finite existence, the infinite must transcend it. God, it is true, coexists with time, as He coexists with creatures, but He does not exist in time, so as to be subject to temporal relations: His self-existence is timeless. Yet the positive perfection expressed by duration as such, i.e. persistence and permanence of being, belongs to God and is truly predicated of Him, as when He is spoken of, for example, as “Him that is, and that was and that is to come” (Revelation 1:4); but the strictly temporal connotation of such predicates must always be corrected by recalling the true notion of eternity.”

    Oh well, the concept of eternity dovetails into Aquinas’ view of the immortality of the souI, sorry no time for that here, but alas, what I interpret Aquinas is saying, is that the condition of a soul in eternity, whatever that condition happens to be (in heavenly bliss or torment via exclusion from God) is entirely based on the free will decisions that soul made in its physical lifetime) has no conception of “time” as we understand it. The soul just IS and will be, as God IS and will be.

    Peace,

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  34. GC says:

    kathleen April 11, 2014 at 08:37 Yes, deliberately missing Mass on Sunday is usually a mortal sin.

    Surprise, surprise, kathleen, it’s only the fourth commandment, something apparently unknowable by toads.

    As for bacon sarnies, they are neither here nor there on any day of the week (at least since the Council of Jerusalem), another fact lost on toads, apparently. Perhaps toads could suggest another way for the faithful to recall the momentously bitter passion of our Lord; something perhaps as meaningful as what our bishops have devised since Vat2, such as forgoing the french fries at our McDonalds big mac Friday luncheon. Oh the pain.

    Like

  35. Toadspittle says:

    “The soul just IS and will be, as God IS and will be.”

    That’s as may be, Ponder Anewbut how do you know that?
    It’s a boring old question, but one we should all ask – any time anyone makes a categorical statement with which we have a problem. (or so I suggest.) I[d say the same to Dawkins.

    Michael, please excuse my rather ponderous and acerbic response above. Walkie problems, with originally sinful dogs, pissed me off a bit as I wrote it.
    I know you are certainly aware of these linguistic “subtleties,” and don’t need to be bashed over the head by the likes of me.

    What, however, is your answer to one of my, so far unanswerable, questions, “Without Original Sin, would nobody on earth have ever died in a TsunamI, an avalanche, a flood(!) or an outbreak of, say, malaria, or The Dreaded Lurgi?

    There are, I think, quite important implications here – as I’m confident you will agree.

    Like

  36. GC says:

    Toad, you may go round in circles of your own devising, if you wish, or of the devising of those who you have read in the cubicular reading room (or elsewhere). Doesn’t mean we all have to.

    Like

  37. Toadspittle says:

    Nobody ever suggested that you did, my dear GC.
    …The main thing is that we all enjoy ourselves during our brief spell in this Vale of Tears… you particularly.
    No disputing that, I suspect.

    Although the reference to “cublicular” reading rooms perplexes me a little – but then I am notoriously thick.
    A little illumination, possibly? All rooms are reading rooms to me. Mostly “cubish.”
    The smallest one as much as any, and where there is always a copy of Cyril’s “The Unquiet Grave,” at one’s elbow – to keep everyone occupied.

    Like

  38. GC says:

    And when the heart is once disposed to see,
    Then reason can unlock faith’s treasury.
    To rapt astonishment is then displayed
    A cosmic map Mercator never made.

    Not t’other way round. Well. mostly.

    Like

  39. kathleen says:

    GC says: “Surprise, surprise, kathleen, it’s only the fourth commandment, something apparently unknowable by toads.”

    Oops! “Unknowable” to silly K too it would seem, who called it the “third” commandment!
    Thanks for pointing this out dear friend – I shall amend my error toute suite. 😉

    Update: Have duly changed back GC… some 14 hours later!! Thanks for checking.

    Like

  40. Toadspittle says:

    I think I follow, in some curiously cublicular fashion, GC.
    You will put me right, if I do not:

    If the heart is not “disposed to see,” through the Catholic prism (or at least one of them) …then it does not see clearly at all.
    Is that correct?

    Like

  41. GC says:

    Dear kathleen, hold the horses. You may well be right!

    Like

  42. GC says:

    Yes, kathleen, it is the third according to the Catholic catechism. Please change back.

    I’m off to do public penance for my error.

    Like

  43. GC says:

    Dear Toad, it’s “Catholic prism or one of them” now, is it? What ever next?

    Like

  44. Toadspittle says:

    Well, GC, I begin to see interesting “schisms” forming among our sullenly muttering ranks: Bickering over priests facing this way and that; dissension over communion being given that way and this. Altar rails on…altar rails off..Gays in… Gays out. You know the sort of thing.

    A new “Reformation” may be on the way, with two varieties of Catholics at the end of it all.
    Including possibly, during the process – some hanging, drawing and quartering, and a bit of burning at the stake as well – as a sideline.

    Just like the Good Old Days.

    …But then, it may equally be not.

    Still, it’s all fun, isn’t it? And that’s the main thing.

    Like

  45. kathleen says:

    @ Ponder Anew

    Thank you for that interesting quote from the great St. Thomas – it’s one of the best around on the subject.

    That should help some of Toad’s troubles in getting his head around the concept of “Eternity”, (which is not to say that any of us still living in time can ever really understand it). Problem is, will he read it and take it in?
    Or will he put his hands over his ears, close his eyes and scream “I can’t hear you! I can’t see you!”

    Now where did I hear something like that before? 😉

    Like

  46. mkenny114 says:

    Good morning Toad,

    First of all, no problem re the earlier response (though your apology is also accepted of course). As I said, any acerbic-ness(?) aside, the distinction you made was a valid one, and worth pointing out – one can never have too much clarity 🙂

    As for your question regarding Original Sin and earthquakes, etc, I would have to say first that the Church does allow a fair amount of interpretative leeway on how it is human sin impacts the rest of the creation. The second important point though, is that the sin of Adam is only said to have brought about death to humans (c.f.; Romans 5) – so one does not have to believe that before the Fall there was no animal death. In fact, Thomas Aquinas has this to say on the matter (ST i, Q96, Article 1):

    ‘In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man’s sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon. Nor does Bede’s gloss on Genesis 1:30, say that trees and herbs were given as food to all animals and birds, but to some. Thus there would have been a natural antipathy between some animals.’

    Now, having said this, it is also clear that there is an intimate relationship between mankind and the rest of the creation, insofar as we are said to have lordship over it and have a responsibility to exercise that lordship wisely. It also seems clear (c.f.; Romans 8) that our acting out of step with what God wants for us has a knock-on effect to our relationship with the creation. We are not in harmony with ourselves because we are not in harmony with God, and this disharmony reverberates out into our relationships with one another and the rest of nature. So, although animal death and competition isn’t necessarily due to Original Sin, our Fall has certainly made things worse.

    Now, as for natural disasters, here I think it is difficult to see how, in a material universe existing in space and time, these sort of things can be avoided at all – it is necessarily the case that in time things will grow and change, and also that there will be conflict when different material things take up the same place at the same time. It is very difficult to see how God could have made a material universe in space and time, operating according to regular laws of motion, etc without such conflict occurring.

    The laws of nature and the ordered, (mostly) predictable interactions of matter are precisely the things that make the world capable of investigation – it is the same intelligibility and regularity of the creation and its laws that both enable us to grow in knowledge and make us susceptible to some of its consequences. So, one could apply the same principles that Aquinas does to the animal kingdom to the natural world as a whole, and not see it as being directly influenced by the Fall.

    However, this, as I said at the start, is not the only possible view of things, and one could also hold for example that given the profoundly representative role Adam played (we were all ‘in’ Adam) and his/our deep connection with the rest of the natural world as stewards of it, there was a retrospective effect of the Fall on the rest of the creation.

    Hope (some at least) of this helps.

    Like

  47. Toadspittle says:

    “So, one could apply the same principles that Aquinas does to the animal kingdom to the natural world as a whole, and not see it as being directly influenced by the Fall.”

    Blimey! .. Crikey! Yipee!…I’ve got an answer at last! And, as a bonus…

    “So, although animal death and competition isn’t necessarily due to Original Sin, our Fall has certainly made things worse.”</i.

    Exactly how has it “made things worse,” Michael? You somehow don’t tell us.
    If a tiger could kill a man before Original Sin, as you agree – what more could it do afterwards that was “worse”? Kill him more nastily than before?
    If man could theoretically catch malaria fatally before The Fall, how could he catch it any worse afterwards?

    “Now, as for natural disasters, here I think it is difficult to see how, in a material universe existing in space and time, these sort of things can be avoided at all – it is necessarily the case that in time things will grow and change, and also that there will be conflict when different material things take up the same place at the same time. It is very difficult to see how God could have made a material universe in space and time, operating according to regular laws of motion, etc without such conflict occurring.”

    …very “difficult to see,” indeed, Michael. Just about “impossible,” I’d say, though it’s not a word I frequently use. I assume you can’t see it, either.
    So, I take it that you willingly agree that Adam might very easily have been killed by a tiger, or an a earthquake, caused by the shifting of tectonic plates, before Original Sin came and spoiled it all?

    If so, how did the sorry state of affairs get any worse?

    Honest (naturally!) of Kathleen to allow that even she cannot get her head around “eternity” scarcely more satisfactorily than a toad can.

    Does she, then, agree with Michael that the natural world was not influenced by The Fall?
    Of course I don’t think it was, not for a moment. Perhaps none of us on here do?

    Rank Heresy to think so, I’d have thought, myself, (Yes, but then I’m only a heretical toad – I know.)

    But what a good, and fruitful, discussion…And what a nice chap Michael is.

    Like

  48. mkenny114 says:

    Dear Toad,

    First of all I would remind you that what I laid out earlier was presented as one amongst many possible interpretations of what happened – it is not the only one, just the one I thought might be most amenable to you 🙂

    What I meant by Original Sin having made things worse was with reference to OUR relationship with the creation. Before the Fall our spirit was in right relationship with our physical faculties, and we were in a relationship of propriety and order with the rest of the animal kingdom – so, although it would still have been natural for tigers to attack and eat their prey, we would have been able to exercise control over these other animals, similar to the way in which St. Francis of Assissi (and other saints) were said to have been able to do so.

    As for disease, I am willing to remain fairly agnostic about that (I’m sure you’ll like my using that word too!) but personally lean towards this being part of the way in which our relationship with the creation has become impaired. Actually, the Catechism has a passage that sums up my position pretty nicely:

    ‘The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”. Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.’ (Section 400).

    As for earthquakes etc, yes I think they would have gone on as they do now, but would add that in and of themselves things like earthquakes and volcanoes are morally neutral – they are not intrinsically evil. If there is nobody about in the case of an eruption (for example) most people’s reaction tends to be one of awe rather than moral revulsion. This doesn’t make the problems that occur when we build settlements near fault lines etc any easier to bear – I am just saying that these things are not evil in and of themselves.

    Hope this helps to clarify a bit, and glad you are enjoying the discussion 🙂

    Like

  49. Ponder Anew says:

    “The soul just IS and will be, as God IS and will be.

    That’s as may be, Ponder Anew – but how do you know that?”

    I was watching a former chef on one of the food channels; she worked in a supper club like they used to have in the Midwest US. I don’t know if they still have those out there.

    She created- are you ready for this? A GLORIFIED hash brown cake. No kidding, this is her name for it, and it lives up to its name. Made in an iron skillet with luscious butter and covered with charred peppers. Blows your socks off. The end result looked certainly miles beyond the ordinary, hurry up and no wait, frozen bagged hashbrowns that are constantly on the verge of freezer burn in our fridges.

    Any-who, what’s the point? The point is Aquinas’ fourth proof for the existence of God: The argument for the gradation of being. By the way, there are 5 proofs.

    The argument goes thus: We note in the world that there is a gradation to be found in things. Some things are better quality or worse than other things, for example. Are we not always looking for better, more improved, and dare I say it, excellent qualities in things? You know, the better car, iphone, the best hamburger, the most interesting (and charitable) blog forums, the most reverent liturgies. My good vanilla latte at McDonald’s may be topped by better and more superior lattes, and I will keep looking for them.

    So Aquinas reasons that, given that we have the conception of grades of ‘good,’ best and better, and less than, inferior to etc., in things (and there may be minute qualities in between these we have not sensed). The upshot is this: there must be a final, par excellent source of all excellence and Good, and this we call God.

    One more thing, I remember for those who chronically refuse God’s goodness, we can always go preach to fish like St Anthony of Padua.

    Keep asking, Toad. All the best- or should I say, All the Excellence!

    Like

  50. Toadspittle says:

    “The upshot is this: there must be a final, par excellent source of all excellence and Good, and this we call God.”
    In other words, Ponder, because degrees of imperfection are perceived to exist, (subjective though they may be – I wouldn’t touch a “latte” with the end of my hiking pole) ultimate perfection must also exist.
    …Not necessarily. It is a fallacious inference. Because we strive, and succeed, in constructing more energy-efficient devices, doesn’t mean that we will ever make one that is completely
    energy-efficient. Ever.

    Michael, I will quote your illustrious namesake, Anthony, rather than answer directly for myself: “…If the struggle for existence had been going on for aeons before humans evolved, it is impossible to accept that it was man’s first disobedience and the fruit of the forbidden tree that first brought death into the world.”
    Not much to argue about there, I fear.

    “…so, although it would still have been natural for tigers to attack and eat their prey, we would have been able to exercise control over these other animals, similar to the way in which St. Francis of Assisi (and other saints) were said to have been able to do so.”

    What a muddle we can get in. “Nice tiger, please stop eating me. Be reasonable, now.
    Well, say Grace first, at least.” And some saints are “…said to have been able to do it,” eh? You will excuse me if I doubt that.
    A tiger that didn’t eat people – Fall or not – is not a tiger. It is a big pussy cat.
    Could “some saints talk” to tectonic plates – and prevent Tsunamis? Talk to mosquitoes and stop getting malaria?

    “…visible creation (after The Fall) has become alien and hostile to man. “
    Suppose it always was? How would the world have looked back then? Like it does now? (minus lattes, of course.)

    Like

  51. mkenny114 says:

    Good afternoon Toad,

    The quote from my good relative Anthony doesn’t really have much bearing on what I’ve said here as I have already mentioned that it was human death that was affected by the Fall. If one wants to see humans as ‘just another animal’ in a continuous line of development from our predecessors with no great evolutionary shift involved as we move towards mankind then fine, but given that we’ve been down this road before I think it’s probably best to put all that to one side for the time being. The point is though that I do indeed see humans as departing in significant ways from that ‘developmental arc’ and on that basis I think it is reasonable to see us as being (originally at least) exempt from the cycle of competition and death one sees in the rest of the animal kingdom.

    As for humans being able to control animals (even ones as fierce as tigers), I don’t think it’s that unreasonable, given that humans have and do domesticate animals of all sorts (animals which of course were wild in the first instance – like the wolf – but which we were able to subdue). There are also many examples of humans exercising a similar control over lions, tigers and the like, to the point that those animals no longer pose a threat to their human ‘trainers’ but still retain their wildness. If this is possible for fallen men to achieve, it is certainly not unreasonable to suppose that unfallen humanity would have been able to do this to a greater degree.

    As for tectonic plates, I already said that that was (to my mind) a separate issue unaffected by the Fall, so no need to envision saints talking to them. Disease though, one can see as something that feeds on processes of disintegration and disharmony (such as exhibited in the Fall) – a contemporary example of this is how our lifestyles contribute to the increase of diseases in our society. Things like malaria on the other hand are not what one would call necessary aspects of the natural world, in fact they are usually seen as somewhat parasitic – it is fairly easy to imagine a world where things change and develop but that things like malaria do not emerge because man and his environment are in harmony with one another (the situation I outlined in an earlier reply). You may not see this as fitting in with the way the world was before man came on the scene, but it does nothing to contradict that picture (a picture, lest we forget, which could change in the future) – it is perfectly possible to imagine animals existing without disease in the world, and there is no evidence that I know of to suggest otherwise.

    Before I go, I would like to make a quick observation on the ‘degrees of perfection’ debate. I think the example that we continue to make more energy-efficient devices yet may not make one that is completely energy-efficient is missing the point slightly. Aquinas’ five ways are meant to illustrate that we reason about the world (wrt causality, contingency, etc – and in this case perfection) all the time, that it is very logical to do so, and that it would be intellectually dishonest to stop at a certain point just because we don’t like the conclusion. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing necessarily, but that this is what Aquinas is saying – why trust the chain of causality or contingency for all other processes of inference and deduction, but distrust it when it leads to a final cause or ground of being?

    Like

  52. Toadspittle says:

    “I think it is reasonable to see us as being (originally at least) exempt from the cycle of competition and death one sees in the rest of the animal kingdom.”

    On that, Michael – you and I will just have to plain old disagree. It seems absurdly and utterly unreasonable to me.
    We were not, are not, and never will be – exempt from the cycle of competition and death that comprises life on this dismal planet. (Made for us specifically by God, who loves us, each and all.)

    “..why trust the chain of causality or contingency for all other processes of inference and deduction, but distrust it when it leads to a final cause or ground of being?

    Well, because it doesn’t necessarily lead to “a final cause.” It may appear to indicate such an outcome, but we just don’t know, and maybe never will.

    We can all say, “Ultimately, this and that…” but that doesn’t make it so. Maybe the chain is endless. Maybe the chain, if followed, turns out to be connected with itself in a big loop?
    We don’t know if “perfection” exists, and we probably wouldn’t recognise it if we saw it, as we have no yardstick. We are as ignorant of perfection as we are of infinity.
    Even Kathleen is. (I think.)

    “…a contemporary example of this is how our lifestyles contribute to the increase of diseases in our society.”
    What “lifestyles,” in the good old days, led to leprosy, Michael?
    And do they still? Are there more diseases today caused by “lifestyles” than there were back then?
    I suppose you might say rickets, malnutrition and tuberculosis were caused by “lifestyles.” If you like.
    All a result of Original Sin in your book. Serves us all right, really.
    Even those of us without Herod’s Evil.

    “..it is perfectly possible to imagine animals existing without disease in the world, and there is no evidence that I know of to suggest otherwise. “

    And it would be equally pointless to imagine such a thing, wouldn’t it? It is perfectly possible to imagine a world in which there are no tigers, for example – or no snow – or no America. None of these things are “necessary,” surely?
    And such speculation is equally pointless, I suggest.

    Like

  53. mkenny114 says:

    Good day to you Toad,

    First off, just to let you know, I will be trying to spend as much of Holy Week away from the ‘blogosphere’ as I can, so if I don’t reply to any subsequent replies that is why.

    Anyway, I certainly agree that it is fair to say we will just have to agree to disagree on human exemption from all manner of things yes – all I was trying to suggest really is that is perfectly possible (both logically and given the evidence that is actually available to us) to imagine such a thing. Obviously the reasons I hold to the views I do are not based solely on such arguments (adherence to the truths of the Faith is, as both Newman and ‘Old Gil’ saw very well, often due to a process wherein various different arguments, evidences, etc complement one another and finally ‘click’ into place as a whole), so I think all I can do is make the case that a particular teaching, such as this one, is at least possible. The rest depends upon one’s existing presuppositions about what the world is like.

    When I mentioned lifestyles leading to disease, this was meant as a means of illustrating how it often occurs nowadays, again to show how this could well have been the case in previous ages. Also, I don’t meant to suggest that when an individual contracts a disease, that it is necessarily due to THEIR lifestyle – it is unfortunately the case that the way a given society or culture lives in general (whether this be actual patterns of behaviour or what we choose to put into our systems), will have consequences for all the people living in that group. Of course, individual lifestyle choices do often contribute to contractions of different conditions as well, but that wasn’t really my focus – it was the more the fact that the way we live and interact with our environment and one another, does have an impact on that environment and on our health. As for what combination of things may have led to leprosy (or anything else for that matter) I don’t know – a web of causality going back that far would be nigh on impossible to ‘unpick’. But yes, I do believe that the number of diseases have increased (steadily, exponentially, who knows) since ‘the good old days’. Again, my case here is only that this is possible – I certainly don’t expect you to accept it wholesale!

    As to whether the chain of causality or contingency doesn’t necessarily lead to a final cause or source of all being, my point (and St. Thomas’) is that given the amount of trust we place in these things ordinarily, one would indeed expect them to indicate such an outcome. These are basic principles that we use all the time and trust completely in every other case, so to say that as soon as they lead to an ultimate or generative principle we can no longer trust those principles seems rather odd to say the least.

    If the chain is endless, for example, then where does the principle of cause and effect gain its initial momentum. If it is connected with itself in a big loop, then one still needs to explain how the loop got going in the first place. These explanations are based on theorising which would be thrown out of court immediately should they be applied in the ‘real’ world. And if we are to say (as some do) that these principles of logic that we find so useful are really only provisional and have no actual, abiding foundation in reality, then a.) this makes much of our thinking life a nonsense, and b.) why should we continue to trust them at all?

    That we are ignorant of things like perfection and eternity – not infinity; this is a different thing, as good ole’ CSL points out in the link I posted earlier; these distinctions are important remember 🙂 – is not really the point either. The point is that we know that certain qualities exist (be it goodness, or truth for example), and intuitively recognise that these things must have a foundation in something greater than our limited and imperfect understandings of them. We speak of goodness and know that there must be such a thing as the Good, or all our talk of goodness loses its meaning and degenerates into mere opinion; the same with Truth.

    St. Thomas’ five ways are thus not ‘proof’, because as you have said before, one cannot have such a thing in these matters – you will never get a piece of paper with a series of equations on it, finally ending in the statement ‘QED, God exists.’ What the five ways (and other arguments) do offer however are very compelling reasons, given the way we commonly think about reality, to think that the existence of God is not only possible but very probable – if you like, they are arguments against agnosticism!

    Anyway, I shall head off for now. I hope you have a jolly good Holy Week and shall chat again sometime in the future no doubt, so ‘see’ you then 🙂

    Like

  54. Toadspittle says:

    Well said, Michael. A self-inflicted abstention from bloviation for a few days, on my part – to contemplate the enormity of my depravity – might be beneficial.
    Certainly would for everyone else. We shall see.
    Wishing someone a “Happy Good Friday,” seems inappropriate, somehow. So I won’t.

    Like

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