Fulton Sheen answers Stephen Fry

In the comment thread of this post yesterday, CP&S’s “resident jester”, who goes by the name of Toadspittle (‘Toad’ for short) posted a link to an article by Henry McDonald in The Guardian that many people have found deeply shocking. It was entitled “Stephen Fry calls God an ‘evil, capricious, monstrous maniac'”, and includes a clip of an interview Ireland’s Gay Byrne was giving with Fry, in which Byrne asks Fry “what he would say to God if he died and had to confront him.” Fry responds with a tirade of insults and accusations. The revelation has been hastily responded to in another article in The Guardian, this time by Giles Fraser, under the heading: “I don’t believe in the God that Stephen Fry doesn’t believe in either”.

However, it is this blog (All Passing Things) that gives the best and most logical and Catholic response to Fry’s rage and rant, with the ending words of the great Ven. Fulton Sheen, that I have decided to re-post in its entirety here below.

_____________

This has been a very distressing week for those of us who thought that Irish people were past the days of thinking that a well fed aristocrat with a posh English accent was ipso facto in possession of some subjugating wisdom that would enlighten the Catholic serfs. But, such a colonial throwback could be seen on Gay Byrne’s most recent episode of the mind numbingly shallow series The Meaning of Life, which has to date featured intellectual giants like Enda Kenny and Bono.

 

15.-STEPHEN-FRY1

Turns out that a man who spent his life’s work undermining Catholicism is now considered by the average twenty something in Ireland to be the embodiment of it. Gay Byrne, a man who prides himself on having been socially successful in some imaginary spiritual tag team wrestle alongside Sinead O’Connor against what the latter has termed ‘. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

No you're right Facebook, Gay Byrne is God's go to guy

No you’re right Facebook, Gay Byrne is God’s go to guy

This week, Uncle Gay as his colleagues at RTE tell us that we apparently affectionately call him, aired an interview with none other than manic depressive Oscar Wilde imitator Stephen Fry. Fresh from ‘marrying’ a young fella, Fry declared his disdain for a non-existent entity with a passion for imaginary spirits not seen since Darius III must have cursed Ares for bestowing favour upon Alexander as he came through the Caspian gates. I thought since Stevie raised the standard of his conversation last night with his love of ‘the Greek gods’, it would be prudent to do the same here. Just don’t mention the rapes and pederasty of said polytheism.

One of the many admirable rapes from Greek mythology

One of the many admirable rapes from Greek mythology

But perhaps we can hope that Mr. Fry fulfils his Oscar Wilde spiel in his last moments, who knows, there might be a deathbed conversion to redeem him of his greatest sin, his overwhelming mediocrity in the face of unnerving pretence.

For anyone who didn’t see it, a quick summary of it would be that Fry gave us a ‘Leave Britney alone!’ meltdown in the form of a long-winded challenge to a God who he doesn’t believe in. The whole sorry affair was an antiquated pre-Aquinas return to well over a millennium ago, when men’s reactionary provocations against God were as simple as their diets. Fry plays the populist card to a theologically illiterate public, a youth incapable of thinking rationally about the universe outside of vines and pornography.

fishinabarrel

His frothing at the mouth about his imaginary adversary is provocative only to those who have never thought about faith, God or even life itself. Or perhaps even thought full stop. Had they done so and researched such questions, they would have seen how tired, how dated and how minuscule his arguments really are. So minuscule in fact that two of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century dismissed them with a passing comment and a small anecdote.
The first was G.K Chesterton who remarked:

People reject Original Sin as it is the only aspect of Christianity that is empirically proven.

If man is fallen, so too is his immortality, one that following the logical reasoning of Christianity, we would not say that God took from him and hence did not allot sickness upon him. Or any other suffering.

images-1

The second was a humorous story from The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who made light of the po-faced ridiculousness of existing serious enemies of the supposedly non-serious non-existent deities.

No one is born an atheist or a skeptic, one who doubts the possibility of ever discovering truth. These attitudes are made less by the way one thinks than by the way one lives. If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live. We suit our philosophy to our actions and that is bad.

Let me tell you the story of an atheist in London, England. I used to do considerable work in St. Patrick’s Parish, in Soho Square.

One Sunday morning I came into the front of the church to read Mass, and found a young lady standing in front of the communion rail haranguing the congregation. She was saying, “There is no God! There is too much evil in the world! Reason cannot transcend sense! It is impossible to conclude to His existence!” “Every night,” she said, “I go out to Hyde Park. I talk against God. I circulate England, Scotland and Wales with pamphlets denouncing a belief in the existence of God.”As I reached the communion rail, I said to her,

“Young lady, I am very happy to hear you say you believe in the existence of God”.

She said, ”You silly fool I said I don’t!”

I said, “I understood you to say just the contrary. Suppose I went out every night to Hyde Park and talked against twenty-footed ghosts and ten centaurs. Suppose I circulated England, Scotland and Wales, denouncing a belief in these ghosts and in these centaurs. What would happen to me?”

How dare Centaurs think that they can use arrows like that! - Stephen Fry (probably)

How dare Centaurs think that they can use arrows like that! – Stephen Fry (probably)

She said, “You would be crazy! They would lock you up!”

I said, “Do you not put God in the same category as these fantasies of the imagination? Why would I be crazy attacking them and you are not crazy attacking God?”

She said, “I don’t know. Why?”

I said, “Because when I attack these phantoms of the imagination, I am attacking something unreal, but when you attack God, you are attacking something as real as the thrust of a sword. Do you think we would have any such thing in the world as prohibition unless there was something to prohibit? Could there ever be anti-cigarette laws unless there were cigarettes? How can there be athe-ism unless there is something to atheate?”

She said, “I hate you!”

I said, “Now you’ve given the answer.”

Atheism is not a doctrine, it is a cry of wrath.There are two kinds of atheists. There are simple persons who have read a smattering of science and concede, probably, there is no God; but the other type of atheist is militant, such as the communist. They really do not deny the existence of God, they challenge God. It is the reality of God that saves them from insanity. It is the reality of God that gives them a real object against which they may vent their hate.

[ Thanks to All Passing Things.]

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172 Responses to Fulton Sheen answers Stephen Fry

  1. toadspittle says:

    A great honour indeed to be “officially” accepted as the CP&S Resident Court Jester.
    Very important role of keeping peoples’ feet firmly in the air. I suppose every family of our beloved “monarchs” has one somewhere, except perhaps, the Habsburgs, who didn’t need any extra jesters.
    And now, folks, those of you who haven’t done so far, be sure to watch The Abominable Fry “rant and rage,” and gnash his teeth while frothing at the mouth, tearing his hair, and filing his nails in impotent rage at God – and do so post haste!
    It is a truly revolting and degrading spectacle, and therefore one which you will be relieved you did not miss.

    http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/feb/01/stephen-fry-god-evil-maniac-irish-tv

    “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story,” says Saint Sinead. Very true, and also remember, There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” said P.T. Barnum.

  2. johnhenrycn says:

    Such a child.

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Fry, I mean.

  4. toadspittle says:

    Enfant Terrible, possibly, JH (Fry, that is.) Still, as the best Jeeves that ever was, or ever will be – we must cut him considerable slack.
    Though I fear his marriage will end in tears. But then, lots of marriages do.

  5. johnhenrycn says:

    You must be joking. Fry almost ruined Jeeves for me. Although, to be fair, I think any actor trying to impersonate Jeeves is doomed to fail miserably.

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    I think I have all of the Ionicus book covers for Wodehouse’s tales. What a wonderful artist he was. Both of them, that is. I can’t decide who is my favourite character. Jeeves, Mulliner or Psmith.

  7. toadspittle says:

    I do almost, somewhat, very much, rather see your point, JH.
    It’s impossible to reproduce Wodehouse’s words in the flesh.
    Nobody, not even the blessed Stephen, can literally “shimmer’ into a room.

  8. kathleen says:

    “Such a child”

    Indeed JH.
    Stephen Fry is behaving exactly like a naughty child who, when not able to get his/her own way, stamps their foot and wails, “I don’t love you anymore”.
    Except that children are innocent and still in the learning process… old Fry is a bit past that.😉 Must never give up hope that he may not still have a ‘Damascus experience’ one day though, and see the light. If only Fry knew how much the God Whose existence he pretends to deny (whatever he says to the contrary) loves him and yearns for his conversion. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”

    A friend has passed onto me another very thought-provoking link on the topic of this post “which covers a few more areas of contention”. From “Fr. Ed’s blog”:
    http://www.tunbridgewells-ordinariate.com/blog/?p=1032

  9. johnhenrycn says:

    Fry says there is no God, but for the purposes of argument, he also says that if God exists, He is a monster for allowing things like childhood diseases. But if we were to ask, also for the purposes of argument, what if God doesn’t exist? What does the atheist then say about childhood diseases? The atheist’s answer can only be that sh** happens, by which he must logically mean that there is, ultimately, no logic to the universe. Is that a philosophy for living? I think not. If the atheist says there is, ultimately, no logic to existence, what reason is there for living?

    The reason for natural calamities, in the context of the Divine, may be (note: I do not presume to know the mind of God) because God gives us this world as a challenge, an opportunity to explore and to create, and thus to experience His glory. Who doubts that human life today is far less nasty, brutish and short than it was a century ago? Who doubts that we will, in the fullness of time, conquer things like cancer? People like Fry remind me of the childlike Eloi in Wells’s novel, The Time Machine, living in a world where there is no suffering, but where there is also no meaning to life beyond survival and pleasure. Personally, I prefer this world to that one.

  10. toadspittle says:

    Well, the detestable, “naughty,” unrepentant and petulant Fry doesn’t seem to be stamping his foot and wailing (metaphorically, of course) on the video, to me, Kathleen.
    Nor does he seem to be “ranting and raving” – just answering, in very good-humoured, and remarkably patient fashion, the questions posed by the gobsmacked and dopey old leprechaun.

    However, as we are all agreed on CP&S, people will see exactly what they want to see, no more, no less – and I include myself here, of course.
    Thus the miracles of Fatima, and the like, are born. The reaction to this video is merely another example.

    Possibly the non-commenting thumbs-downers on here can bring themselves to bear to look at the “shocking” video, and then, possibly, decide for themselves how the “Manic depressive Oscar Wilde imitator” really conducts himself.
    …Or possibly not. And what he actually says is immaterial.

    And the more thumbs-down it then gets, the more pleased we shall all be.
    (See, Tom Fisher? Thumbs-down are good!)

  11. toadspittle says:

    “If the atheist says there is, ultimately, no logic to existence, what reason is there for living?”
    Whatever reason we choose to give it.
    That’s Existentialism, that is.
    From art, to music, to helping others, to stamp-collecting, to “gay” sex, to the satisfaction of working on the scientific elimination of disease, to etc, etc,
    Oh and to dog-walking, loving and enjoying your wife and family*, and being a humble jester.
    But I don’t know. I’m an Agnostic.
    Maybe there simply is no reason.
    So then what do we do? Kill ourselves?
    Not me – not until after I see who wins the Champion Hurdle, at least.

    *Isn’t that one alone a reason worth living for, JH?
    If not, why not?

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    Love involves suffering. Otherwise it is mere affection, like what you experience with your canines.

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Would you die for a dog? I don’t ask whether you’d jump into an icy river to save a drowning dog, but rather would you consent to being killed to save a dog. How about if you had to choose between an itsy bitsy cute one year old child and a dog?

    As for your musings at 21:11: art, music and stamp collecting cannot, ultimately, be reasons for living, because they end when we die. If our existence is to have meaning, it must be because of something larger.

  14. Tom Fisher says:

    The commentators here are very interesting, especially Johnhenry, who raises searching questions. But the post itself, from ‘All Passing things’ simply didn’t respond to the interview — and as Toad pointed out it even misrepresented Fry’s comments as a ‘meltdown’. The post simply pours scorn on Stephen Fry, as they have every right to, but their stony silence in the face of the issues he raises is interesting to say the least.

    G.K. Chesterton would doubtless have much to say in response to Fry, but it’s unlikely he would have passed the whole problem of innocent suffering off as a consequence of original sin.

    How can there be athe-ism unless there is something to atheate?”

    Perhaps someone can explain Sheen’s point? I don’t agree with what I think he’s saying, but I might not be interpreting the question correctly

  15. toadspittle says:

    “Would you die for a dog? I don’t ask whether you’d jump into an icy river to save a drowning dog, but rather would you consent to being killed to save a dog. How about if you had to choose between an itsy bitsy cute one year old child and a dog?”
    As it’s clearly Dopey Questions Day on CP&S, let’s do it.
    “1:…would you consent to being killed to save a dog?”
    No. And there are several million people I wouldn’t consent to being killed to save. Probably including you, sadly. And certainly anyone from ISIS.
    “2: How about if you had to choose between an itsy bitsy cute one year old child and a dog?”
    I would save the child. Even if it was an itsy bitsy ugly, detestable, half-witted twelve year old clutching an “I-Pod.” Wouldn’t feel too happy about it, though.

    And you haven’t address my question that the love and pleasure you presumably have for your family might give even your life sufficient point?
    That’s clumsily put, but I think you can follow it.
    I do really love my dogs, far too much.
    As much as I love my wife and family? No.

    Tom, if you want an interesting take on the garbled “A-theist” nonsense here, which might help answer your question, try Sir Anthony Kenny’s “What I Believe,” it’s a slim volume, won’t take long to read – with two chapters headed :
    1: Why I am not a Theist
    2: Why I am not an Atheist.

  16. toadspittle says:

    ..Oh, and if you don’t believe loving animals can, and always does, involve suffering, JH – you are a happy, if deluded man. (make that happy, if deluded lawyer.)
    As Flaubert says, “To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.”

  17. toadspittle says:

    “..art, music and stamp collecting cannot, ultimately, be reasons for living, because they end when we die.”
    Do you think art and music ended when Mozart and Michelangelo died, JH? I suppose you do.

  18. Tom Fisher says:

    So, about Sheen’s story.

    The key passage is:

    “Young lady, I am very happy to hear you say you believe in the existence of God”.

    She said, ”You silly fool I said I don’t!”

    I said, “I understood you to say just the contrary. Suppose I went out every night to Hyde Park and talked against twenty-footed ghosts and ten centaurs. Suppose I circulated England, Scotland and Wales, denouncing a belief in these ghosts and in these centaurs. What would happen to me?”

    She said, “You would be crazy! They would lock you up!”

    I said, “Do you not put God in the same category as these fantasies of the imagination? Why would I be crazy attacking them and you are not crazy attacking God?”

    She said, “I don’t know. Why?”

    I said, “Because when I attack these phantoms of the imagination, I am attacking something unreal, but when you attack God, you are attacking something as real as the thrust of a sword. Do you think we would have any such thing in the world as prohibition unless there was something to prohibit? Could there ever be anti-cigarette laws unless there were cigarettes? How can there be athe-ism unless there is something to atheate?”

    The young lady was unable to give a sensible answer to his question, and turned out to be simply ‘rage-filled’. But surely a sensible answer presents itself?

    Sheen asked:

    “Do you not put God in the same category as these fantasies of the imagination? Why would I be crazy attacking them and you are not crazy attacking God?”

    The answer I think she should have given is:

    “Suppose that you went to Hyde Park and railed against the Aztec God Huitzilopochtli. This would be regarded as somewhat deranged. Yet it was not at all deranged when Spanish priests railed against the existence of Huitzilopochtli 450 years ago in Mexico. Why is this? — It is because 450 years in Mexico (unlike in 20th Century London) belief in Huitzilopochtli had great social importance. It was a belief that effected the behaviour of millions of people. And so it is that there is an active debate over the existence of God as understood by Christianity in 20th Century London. — It is a belief which has significant effects on society, unlike belief in twenty footed ghosts or centaurs. — If a society developed that did worship twenty footed ghosts, then I would be off to Hyde Park to rail against them. It is entirely fallacious to think that the vehemence with which I argue against ‘God’ should be taken as a tacit acknowledgement of his reality. It is the social effects of belief in God which dictate the contents of my rants”

    — I’m not an atheist, but that would have been the sensible atheist retort. Rather than “I don’t know”.

  19. JabbaPapa says:

    Love involves suffering. Otherwise it is mere affection, like what you experience with your canines.

    You’ve not met toad’s canines, and you are therefore unable to make any sort of pertinent comment regarding toad’s relationship with them …

  20. JabbaPapa says:

    that would have been the sensible atheist retort

    Trying to out-smug Fry ? Doubt you’ll succeed …

    … and I also doubt that Blessed Fulton Sheen wouldn’t have demolished your “argument” as easily as he did that poor hateful woman’s.

    Of course, the proper response to Fry’s trite objections would be more properly looked for in Aquinas or in the works of other such serious theologians and/or philosophers — but of course the presenter of so-called “IQ” prefers to simply reproduced the same tired old a-thinking atheist clichés, rather than do any actual, y’know, thinking about the problem of evil — a problem that’s not even restricted to theology in the first place !!!

  21. Tom Fisher says:

    Dear Jabba,

    If you think that it wouldn’t have been a legitimate response, explain why, don’t just sneer

  22. Tom Fisher says:

    Actually Jabba, enough of your arrogance. I engaged with Sheen’s argument, took it seriously, and offered a possible response to it. And it did address a flaw in his story as presented. To which you offer nothing but some trash about trying to ‘out-smug Fry’.

  23. toadspittle says:

    Basta with the bickering. As Official Court Jester I feel a little Fry story might raise a smile here – even on po-faced old CP&S.

    The wicked, perverted, fellow was being shown around Salt Lake City by a guide lady,
    “When Mormons die, they go to live with their whole families for all eternity,” she told him.
    What if they’ve been good?” asked Stephen.

  24. Tom Fisher says:

    Basta with the bickering

    Well yes. Perhaps. But. There are perfectly good reasons for regarding the argument laid out in narrative form by Sheen as inadequate. And Jabba’s dismissal without even an attempt at refutation was telling.

    And then he addressed himself to Stephen Fry’s comments:

    Of course, the proper response to Fry’s trite objections would be more properly looked for in Aquinas or in the works of other such serious theologians and/or philosophers —

    And here once again comes the sneer, the reference to an ‘authority’ and the refusal to actually offer any thoughts.

  25. kathleen says:

    @ Tom

    I think what the underlying point of Ven. Fulton Sheen’s story here, is that atheists (unlike agnostics, eh Toad?😉 ), demonstrate, on the whole, a bizarre hatred of an entity that they continuously deny exists. It just doesn’t make sense. Why bother, if you really and truly believe there is no Almighty and Ever-loving Creator of all existence, should you waste your short life on Earth to constantly battle and deride He Who is not there?? Sheen cleverly shows how perhaps the woman’s Atheism was not as A-theistic as she wanted to make out.

    Jabba makes a fair point too when he says that a proper rebuttal of Atheism would of course require going deeper into the argument, perhaps starting off with Aquinas’ ‘five ways’ that we posted links to on CP&S the other day.

    Yes Tom, you are right that there is much more that could be said to Fry about some of the issues he raises in that interview with Gay Byrne – most definitely the problem of suffering is the main one – and for that I posted the link in my comment yesterday (from Fr. Ed) that tackles that in a very well-reasoned way. It will always remain something of a mystery, i.e. why do innocent children etc. have to suffer so horribly?… but this is an important part of the whole contentious subject, and not included in the article, which was aimed more at the Atheism angle.

  26. Tom Fisher says:

    @ Kathleen,

    As always, your calm, fair, and thoughtful perspective has done us all some good. You keep us irritable types on the straight and narrow. Many thanks🙂

  27. JabbaPapa says:

    Oh dear —

    OK, for starters there are those who believe in ghosts, and there have been cultures and there are cultures where ghosts and/or ancestral spirits and so on are central to the culture.

    And as you are undoubtedly aware, centaurs similarly formed a part of the graeco-roman tradition of pagan religion.

    Do you imagine Blessed Fulton Sheen to have been ignorant of these facts when he mentioned ghosts and centaurs ?

    The archbishop addressed neither of these things — because they were not and they are not relevant to any current reality, neither at the time of his encounter with that seemingly ghastly woman, nor in the here and now of CP&S, nor in the here and now of Fry’s own ghastly rantings.

    Archbishop Sheen’s comments relating to the here and now of some actual beliefs held by actual people cannot be relevantly responded to by whichever references to some anachronistic speculations involving some theories that we have about the religious beliefs of an extinct religion.

    Blessed Fulton Sheen, instead, addressed the actual issue with clarity — in his response to a sad, aggressive denial of God — which most certainly was NOT provided with any sort of intellectual clarity nor any real intellectual content — he did not respond to the flawed contents of what the woman was ranting about, but instead he addressed the anger and the hatred that was motivating her deeply unpleasant behaviour ; and her “doubt[ing] the possibility of ever discovering truth” ; which is to say, that she was (quite clearly) convinced that her beliefs corresponded 1:1 with the truth — except that this belief of hers was completely dictated by the singular question of God ; which has been the singular question of every major religion in the world and its History ; so that God was quite obviously central to her beliefs.

    Archbishop Sheen responded in that conversation with references to ghosts and centaurs — now, whether you believe this was relevant or not is irrelevant ; because in fact the woman accepted those references as being pertinent to her conversation with him. You can’t just go back and rewrite the conversation to suit your own needs, simply because the Archbishop is no longer here among us to respond to your “contributions” to it.

    But you’ve completely missed the central point — the woman was NOT ranting on about ghosts or centaurs or Huitzilopochtli or anything else you might care to name — no, her beliefs were entirely centred on God. Just as Stephen Fry’s own similarly obnoxious comments were also entirely centred on God.

    Not ghosts ; not centaurs ; not Huitzilopochtli.

    —-

    It is entirely fallacious to think that the vehemence with which I argue against ‘God’ should be taken as a tacit acknowledgement of his reality

    It is exactly a tacit acknowledgement of the central importance of the question of God, as well as being exactly a tacit acknowledgement that the question of God is something that these ranters are emotionally and intellectually and cognitively involved with — contrary to whatever contents derived from History or from whichever deliberate make-believe of the mindlessly tedious Spaghetti Monster variety.

    It is the social effects of belief in God which dictate the contents of my rants

    You’ve clearly not properly read Blessed Fulton Sheen’s account with enough attention to detail —

    I said, “Do you not put God in the same category as these fantasies of the imagination? Why would I be crazy attacking them and you are not crazy attacking God?”

    … SNIP …

    She said, “I hate you!”

    I said, “Now you’ve given the answer.”

    It is not “the social effects of belief in God” which dictate the contents of such rants — it is hatred, pure and simple ; as all of us who have been subjected to such ranting in real life can only be starkly aware of.

    Interventions centred upon the social effects of belief in God would lead to VERY different outcomes either than the atheistic religious hatred of Fry and this woman and their ilk ; and they would certainly not be centred upon ghosts or centaurs or unicorns or pixies or flying spaghetti monsters or Huitzilopochtli or anything else not belonging to the hic et nunc of actual social effects in the real world, of actual belief in God in the real world, and of course to God Himself in the real world. They would instead lead to discussions about sociology, philosophy, comparative religions, politics, etc etc etc — NOT to hanging about the railings in front of churches or in smug talk show interviews to unprovokedly launch attacks upon God and His Religion.

    These are the real things that make those such as Fry and that woman so bitter and so angry and so hate-ful — because people simply do not get angry about that which they know to be unreal.

    Your comments regarding “Huitzilopochtli” are completely irrelevant to anything that is extant in actual reality.

  28. toadspittle says:

    I think, Kathleen, that what the frothing and raging atheists – like Fry and Co – are getting at, is not that they actually hate God, but that they hate the idea of Him, which they regard as erroneous, anyway. Then they say, “If God were to exist, he’d be horrible – but since He doesn’t, he isn’t.” So they are not really “angry” at God at all.
    As our mutual friend, H. Dumpty, put it, “That’s logic, that is.” Me? I have no idea.

  29. toadspittle says:

    “…the problem of suffering is the main one… … It will always remain something of a mystery,”
    Leading contender for Understatement Of The Year – and it’s only early February.
    Tip-top job, Kathleen!

    (Of course, there is no mystery about suffering. The mystery for believers is what God doesn’t do to palliate it.)

  30. Tom Fisher says:

    Oh my. Let’s focus on the point Bishop Sheen was trying to make. The woman who stood at (across Britain?) communion rails crying out Reason cannot transcend sense! It is impossible to conclude to His existence! is quite clearly a type, not an individual. Bishop Sheen wrote the story so that after some (minimal) questioning, the young woman cried out like a harpy that she hated him. Very nice. Forgetting ‘her’ however, he does make a twofold claim about atheism. Those claims are that atheism is inherently dependent upon the object of its denial*, and that the denial itself is born of hatred. Both these claims are very dubious. His illustration of his first point is partly vulnerable to the argument that vehemence may be socially contextual (Hence the fallacy of …’suppose I went to Hyde Park’). At a deeper level it is vulnerable to the question of whether or not the ‘question of God’ being central to human thought and history has any bearing on God’s existence. – One might argue it does not (It may simply be a fact about our species). As to the second point, which is that it is not skepticism but hatred that underlies atheism, I can’t comment, though I have my doubts.

    *One might make a further argument that Sheen doesn’t go into of course.

  31. Tom Fisher says:

    (Of course, there is no mystery about suffering. The mystery for believers is what God doesn’t do to palliate it.)

    And there’s one of those flashes of seriousness that so few people here notice from the “court jester”

  32. It never ceases to amaze me. Why do those lest qualified to comment on a subject are always the 1st and most vocal to do so.? Why do they think they have every right to sound off on a subject they know nothing about, and they try to speak with such authority.?
    Why would postmen for example, consider for a second they are qualified to give advice on brain surgery to a Brain Surgeon?

    Kathleen: thanks for your offer to correct my problems with the CP&S site. Nothing has happened so far.

  33. PS I refer here of course to Mr Fry

  34. Tom Fisher says:

    It’s good to be amazed Geoff, lets you know you’re alive as my Dad used to say

  35. toadspittle says:

    “It never ceases to amaze me. Why do those lest qualified to comment on a subject are always the 1st and most vocal to do so?”
    Hadn’t you better name a few names, Geoff?
    So we all know what, or whom, we are talking about?

  36. Tom Fisher says:

    Not fair Toad!

    Geoff said:

    PS I refer here of course to Mr Fry

  37. toadspittle says:

    Oops, Geoff, you have named him, in a postscript. Apologies.
    And it’s Fry!
    So it’s a question of, “Who the hell are you to talk abut God?”
    ..to which the reasonable answer is,
    “Who the hell do I have to be?”

    In fact, the only people who are allowed to talk about God are theologians. Like Geoff.

  38. JabbaPapa says:

    The woman … is quite clearly a type, not an individual

    ???

    No doubt you have oodles of evidence to support this curious allegation …

  39. 000rjbennett says:

    I may be alone in thinking this, but the article that Kathleen linked to (http://www.tunbridgewells-ordinariate.com/blog/?p=1032) is one of the most lucid and articulate refutations of the “Stephen Fry” sort of thinking that I have ever come across. The article’s author presents a long and compelling argument that can perhaps be summed up in the quoted statement of Pope Benedict XVI, in which he says that “the God of Christianity is one who himself suffered unfairly….”

  40. Adrian Meades (at home) says:

    The story about the atheist not a very poor example to use, isn’t it? Clearly this woman was a little bit disturbed, and easily confused. The reason people would think you were mad for denouncing belief in centaurs is that no one believes in centaurs.

  41. Adrian Meades (at home) says:

    “People reject Original Sin as it is the only aspect of Christianity that is empirically proven”
    How so?

  42. toadspittle says:

    “the God of Christianity is one who himself suffered unfairly….”

    Well He didn’t have to suffer – it was His choice – and He did put His name down for it.
    (In a manner of speaking.)

  43. GC says:

    Tom Fisher says: February 4, 2015 at 10:40
    And there’s one of those flashes of seriousness that so few people here notice from the “court jester”

    I’ve heard of old dogs and their apparent ineptitude for new tricks, but as for “toads” of ample years, it escapes me for the moment. But there does seem a close affinity.

  44. toadspittle says:

    Many thanks for the kindly thought, GC. I’d probably appreciate it even more, if I understood it.

    Do many people on here remember Bertrand Russell being asked the same question, more or less, as The Abominable Fry?
    A lady asked him, “Bertie, if you died, and found yourself face to face with God who asked you, ‘Why didn’t you believe in me?’ ..what would you say?”
    “I shall say, ‘Because you didn’t give me enough evidence.’ “ said Russell.
    Hmmm. Doesn’t really help, does it?

  45. GC says:

    Perhaps I should have just said “cracked record”, but I won’t. “Vinyl” instead of “record” I think they say these days.

  46. toadspittle says:

    Well, Mr. and Mr. Fry ought to be “over the moon” with the wedding present of gushing coverage and publicity we on CP&S have given Stephen’s frothing, spluttering, incoherent, rant, shouldn’t they?
    …But they probably won’t be. Newly-weds think only of each other.
    Only natural, I suppose. Bless them.

    I’m still pondering GC’s “cracked record” and “old dog” comments.
    Does she mean Toad geos on and on about a topic until we are all utterly sick of it?
    Topics like The Horrors of Vatican ll, of Abortion, of “Gay Marriage,” of the Mendacious and Biased Media?
    Surely not. We can’t get enough of them, can we?

  47. Adrian Meades says:

    “So minuscule in fact that two of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century dismissed them with a passing comment and a small anecdote”
    As I pointed out above, this anecdote is totally flawed as any kind of rebuttal, and I really can’t see how “Original Sin is the only aspect of Christianity that is empirically proven”.
    Stephen Fry may be a self indulgent, egotistical show off, but his arguments appear to be the more robust so far.

  48. JabbaPapa says:

    Stephen Fry may be a self indulgent, egotistical show off, but his arguments appear to be the more robust so far

    The only real point of his “argument” is the expression of his deep hatred for Religion and for God.

    Or what — did you miss the meaning of his characterisations of the Almighty ?

    Nothing else he said is original.

    1) Evil exists 2) Evils cause suffering 3) This is a scandal

    Well whoop-de-do, this is no more than a paraphrase of what the Church teaches about Evil.

    Did we REALLY need this Fry person to tell us that Evil causes suffering ? I mean — reading the first 3-4 pages of the Bible will tell you exactly the same, in a text thousands of years old.

    He strongly implies that the existence of evil justifies hatred of God — but analyse this below the surface : his hatred of God is therefore caused by Evil.

    This hatred is therefore intrinsically erroneous, because Truth cannot partake of Evil, notwithstanding that it is true that Evil exists.

  49. In the Summa Theologica, Part One, Question 2, Article 3, Reply to Objection 1, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “As Augustine says (Enchiridion xi): ‘Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.’ This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.”

    I’m sure that explanation would not satisfy Stephen Fry and some others, but it has in fact made sense to a large number of people over the centuries.

  50. Adrian Meades says:

    “but it has in fact made sense to a large number of people over the centuries”
    It may have appeared to make sense to many people, but to those who do not believe in such a God, it would make no sense at all.
    And Jabba; how can Stephen F hate God when he doesn’t believe that God exists? This is just silly.

  51. JabbaPapa says:

    How can Stephen F hate God when he doesn’t believe that God exists? This is just silly.

    He’s the one who came up with the hate speech, not me.

    Or what, do you think the words “evil, capricious, monstrous maniac” express anything other than hatred ?

  52. Adrian Meades says:

    Stephen Fry is clearly referring to what he thinks other people believe in, and not what he believes himself.

  53. JabbaPapa says:

    Stephen Fry is clearly referring to what he thinks other people believe in, and not what he believes himself

    This is irrelevant to the obvious existence of his hate speech.

  54. Adrian Meades says:

    But hardly irrelevant to some of your previous claims.

  55. JabbaPapa says:

    But hardly irrelevant to some of your previous claims

    Whatever Fry imagines as being the object of his hatred is irrelevant to the existence of this hatred towards that object.

    This hatred does not simply vanish away in a puff of smoke by making such a claim as you have.

    There is no such thing as an emotion without both a subject and an object ; Fry’s hatred is however quite blatantly extant, and it is clearly focussed upon what he refers to as God.

  56. johnhenrycn says:

    JabbaPapa, I don’t much care for the likes of Fry, but how can he accused of “hate speech” when he’s theorizing about something he doesn’t believe in? He’s not accusing Christians of being monsters, just their God who he dismisses as fictional. I think your namesake Jabba – the Hutt crimelord and gangster from the Starwars trilogy or quadrilogy or whatever – is a hateful monster, and so too Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, but for me, they’re imaginary beings, and I hope you won’t accuse me of “hate speech” for saying so. As for the concept of “hate speech” generally, my belief is that it is a thoroughly dangerous concept, from the point of view of civil rights, including freedom of religion, and therefore one to be eschewed subject to some extremely limited situations. As you very well know, “hate speech” prosecutions are increasingly being aimed at faithful Christians, and to dignify the very idea of “hate speech” is to play into the hands of the enemy.

  57. JabbaPapa says:

    jh, I understand your point — but a “hateful monster” is not the same thing as an “evil, capricious, monstrous maniac“.

    Hateful” is an objective epithet, whereas “evil” is a subjective one, and Fry’s other three words are just as emotionally charged.

    Besides, you’re dodging the context, which is that Fry was asked to describe what he would say to God “supposing that it was all real”.

    So that, face to face with God Himself, Fry would produce the hate speech in question.

    You’re wrong, BTW, about the repression of hate speech — it’s actually encouragement of religious or ethnic or etc hatred that is punishable ; certainly not the hatred itself, except naturally by the Almighty.

  58. Adrian Meades says:

    I wonder what you would like to say to Jabba the Hutt, if he was real, Jabba? But to speculate on such a thing would be pretty pointless, seeing as no one believes he is.
    What did you think about Fulton Sheen’s centaur analogy?

  59. johnhenrycn says:

    “…but a “hateful monster” is not the same thing as an “evil, capricious, monstrous maniac“.”

    JP: how about if I say that your namesake and Hannibal Lecter are evil, capricious, monstrous maniacs. Will THAT bring me within the ambit of your definition of “hate speech”?
    ___
    You then say that “it’s actually encouragement of religious or ethnic or etc hatred that is punishable”, by which you mean (I think it’s fair to say) that punishment of people espousing such views outside the privacy of their homes is justifiable. Where do you draw the line? Should that Florida preacher who advocated the burning of Muslim ‘holy’ books be subject to punishment? Was he encouraging religious hatred? I think a fair case could be made that he was. How about people who stand at your Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner quoting proscriptions against homosexual acts (as if that would ever be possible nowadays!) from Leviticus or St Paul’s Epistles, or who post comments on blogs advocating the re-criminalization of sodomy? Are they encouraging hatred of homos? Again, a fair case – a solid case – can be made that they are. How about people who are thrown in jail for peacefully protesting a woman’s right to choose abortion? Such protests are very anti-female and hateful in the minds of some, which is why people are indeed thrown in jail for them. THAT is exactly the legal atmosphere now ascendant and which you seem to like. Slippery slope and all that, friend.

  60. JabbaPapa says:

    Where do you draw the line?

    I don’t — as I am not a Judge.

    THAT is exactly the legal atmosphere now ascendant and which you seem to like

    Whoever said anything about “liking” it ?

  61. johnhenrycn says:

    Jabba, re “hate speech”, you ask:
    “Whoever said anything about ‘liking’ it?”

    Jabba, in your last paragraph at 22:09 you seek to distinguish between “encouragement” of hatred and hatred “itself”. Some – not me of course – might conclude, therefore, that you approve of punishment for human conduct that encourages hatred against other people, such as burning the Koran, drawing cartoons of Mohammed, quoting biblical verses condemning sodomites to hell, protesting outside legal abortion clinics, writing blogs demanding that all illegal immigrant Gypsies be deported to Romania, etc… Otherwise, why make the distinction? So there’s the question: are the examples I give of so-called “hate speech” within the ambit of justifiably punishable offences in your view or not? And if not, what examples of “hate speech” can you mention that should be punishable? Should Stephen Fry, who you accuse of “hate speech” be made to occupy the same cell at Reading Gaol that Wilde once did? I see that one plan now being considered is to turn Reading into a theatre venue, so perhaps Fry wouldn’t mind.

  62. JabbaPapa says:

    Some – not me of course – might conclude, therefore, that you approve of punishment for human conduct that encourages hatred against other people

    I very simply described what the Law says, well in most Western Nations anyway.

    It’s not *me* making that distinction ; it’s the Law.

  63. toadspittle says:
    “A great honour indeed to be ‘officially’ accepted as the CP&S Resident Court Jester.
    Very important role of keeping peoples’ feet firmly in the air. I suppose every family of our beloved ‘monarchs’ has one somewhere, except perhaps, the Habsburgs, who didn’t need any extra jesters.”
    Officially on Behalf of the Canons and Knights of the HRM (Hapsburg Restoration/Holy Roman Movement), Thou Toadspittle art officially commissioned Court Jester of His Imperial and Royal Majesty, the Kaiser or, in interregnum, of the Imperial Vicar. Thou art required to Solemnly swear on the altar-stone of Stephansdom to bring laughter and lightheartedness to the Imperial and Royal court, knowing full well that should thou ever displease his Imperial and Royal Majesty or a member of his Imperial and Royal Family, thou shalt be subject to certain medieval tortures formally employed by the Spanish Inquisition (an institution of the Hapsburg family) because by thy unholy provocation thou hast brought on thyself the swift vengeance of Imperial and Royal Justice.
    Having Completed thy oath, thou wilt sing unaccompanied a perfect rendition of “Gott Erhalte,” after which thou will compose a significant number of Leberreim for the benefit of the court.

    This thou wilt do should thou accept the commission. Should thou refuse, then thou wilt be required to appear before the Kaiser in sackcloth and ashes, beg his Imperial and Royal Pardon, and leave with all due haste, never to enter a province that at any time constituted Hapsburg dominion ever again, on pain of the selfsame tortures mentioned above.

    AUSTRIAE EST IMPERARE ORBI UNIVERSO

  64. johnhenrycn says:

    Sigh…thought sockpuppetry was a bad memory from a past blogsite and nothing else…but now cometh another making moon eyes and fawning over the Hapsburgs, just after their chief gladiator has been given a dunce cap and a “time out”, as Kindergarten teachers say over here.

  65. johnhenrycn
    Can’t take a joke?

  66. Tom Fisher says:

    Oh come Johnhenry, he/she is just having a laugh🙂

  67. HE by the way Tom Fisher (:
    But my pseudonym is serious.
    And so is my motto: AUSTRIAE EST IMPERARE ORBI UNIVERSO!

    But so as to make this comment actually about the post; Please pray for the swift canonization of Fulton Sheen (we have yet to see his like again), and for the conversion of Stephen Fry.

  68. toadspittle says:

    (TOAD is condemned )“..never to enter a province that at any time constituted Hapsburg dominion ever again,”

    Can I have that in writing, and signed and stamped, please?

    Anyway, there’s no point in going to Vienna since Hitler got rid of the Jews.
    They were what made it great.
    Not the Habsburgs.

  69. Toad,
    So you refused. A selfie with the sackcloth and ashes will do.
    (I’m afraid Florida is on the list.)

  70. Roger says:

    There is no mystery in suffering because it is the consequence of the Fall. The knowledge of Good (Love because God is Love) and Evil (Hatred of God) is the consequence of Original Sin. The Incarnation (25th March that is 9 months before Christmas and why Christmas is 25th December). The Word Made Flesh. This marriage between Flesh and God.
    Christ through His mystical Body overcame pagan Rome through Love, the Cross and prayer.
    Christ did not yet restore Man to the Paradise State instead we are to cloth ourselves in Christ (Sacraments) which is what the Saints did. At some moment Christ will come again (CREED) to judge the living and the End. The Last Judgment.
    Sin and Man’s Sin is the reason for the loss of Paradise. However we have through Christ the Promise that we will enter Heaven through Our Lord.
    St Bernadette was told NOT in this Life BUT the next!
    Sin is the reason for the suffering and sorrow of this world.
    Heaven or Hell its the individuals choice (free Will). Do not blame God for the consequence of Sin on Creation.

  71. Centurion13 says:

    I thought C. S. Lewis sorted out the issue of why there is suffering and still a loving God in his book ‘The Problem of Pain’?

  72. toadspittle says:

    In my view, Centurion13, Lewis signally failed to do so.
    But then he was an avowed Protestant, so he wouldn’t really know.
    I’m glad Centurion13 (shouldn’t that be XIII?)resurrected the topic, because I’ve been wondering, given all the hoop-la over Fry’s frothing denunciation,

    why someone Catholic didn’t have the idea of bringing out a video simply refuting one by one the points Fry made. (5 million hits, last time I heard.)
    But maybe they did, and I missed it.
    In which case maybe someone could re-run it on CP&S?

  73. Centurion13 says:

    Would you please elaborate on two things:

    1) Why you think Lewis signally failed to do so and
    2) What his being a follower of the Church of England has to do with it,

    I was under the strong impression he presented a ‘mere Christianity’, devoid of bias towards one sect or another. And as it happens, I just finished re-reading ‘The Problem of Pain’ last week.

    I should very much like to hear your views.

  74. GC says:

    Comment deleted by author

  75. Tom Fisher says:

    I thought C. S. Lewis sorted out the issue of why there is suffering and still a loving God in his book ‘The Problem of Pain’?

    C.S. Lewis never claimed to have finally settled the issue. He set out to think rationally about it within the Christian worldview — and in doing so wrote an excellent and thought provoking book. As C.S. Lewis was well aware, people will be discussing the problem of pain centuries from now.

  76. johnhenrycn says:

    Lewis was an “avowed” Protestant, eh? The man who converted to Christianity largely under the influence of J.R.R. Tolkein? The man who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia?

    I’d say his heart was in Rome, despite having never signed on the dotted line.

  77. johnhenrycn says:

    oops… Sorry, I should have mentioned that my last comment was in reply to Toad at 09:57. Shooting from the hip is more Jabba’s style than mine.

  78. Tom Fisher says:

    It caused Tolkien much regret JH that Lewis never converted to Catholicism. “Avowed” might sound a little strong. But Lewis was certainly Protestant by background, temperament, and belief, and practice.

  79. Tom Fisher says:

    Though this from 1945 does put it pretty bluntly:

    The Roman Church where it differs from this universal tradition and specially from apostolic Christianity I reject. Thus their theology about the Blessed Virgin Mary I reject because it seems utterly foreign to the New Testament; where indeed the words “Blessed is the womb that bore thee” receive a rejoinder pointing in exactly the opposite direction. Their papalism seems equally foreign to the attitude of St. Paul toward St. Peter in the epistles. The doctrine of Transubstantiation insists on defining in a way which the New Testament seems to me not to countenance. In a word, the whole set-up of modern Romanism seems to me to be as much a provincial or local variation from the central, ancient tradition as any particular Protestant sect is. I must therefore reject their claim: though this, of course, does not mean rejecting particular things they say.

  80. johnhenrycn says:

    Tom Fisher: I’ll see your good rebuttal and raise you one:

    “It would certainly be inaccurate, and therefore unfair to the truth, to describe Lewis as a Catholic. There is also little doubt that Lewis would have considered the description unfair. On the other hand, there are grounds for considering him a quasi or crypto-Catholic…He held many beliefs that were far more Catholic than Protestant. To give but a few examples of this quasi-Catholicism: he described the Eucharist as the “blessed sacrament” and seemed to believe in the Real Presence (though not apparently in transubstantiation); he went to auricular confession, an extremely eccentric practice for an Anglican; he opposed the ordination of women in the Anglican church on the grounds that the priest at the altar is in persona Christi; and, last but not least, he professed not only a belief in purgatory but a belief that he was destined to go there!”

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=3085

    As for his belief in Purgatory, that is most definitely the case, and in fact, it was from reading the last book he wrote before he died, Letters to Malcolm, which dealt (inter alia) with Purgatory, that I, then also a crypto-Catholic, became a real one, albeit not a terribly good one😉

    We will never know where he would have ended up (religion-wise) had he not died in ’63 (the same day that “real” Catholic, Jack Kennedy, was assassinated), just one week shy of his 65th birthday, which is a very young age, even for a smoker like Lewis, or an ex-smoker like me, who will reach that milestone exactly 21 days from today.

    You might like to take a look at this amusing book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Between-Heaven-Hell-Somewhere-Kennedy/dp/083083480X

    Happy St Patrick’s Day, TF!!

  81. johnhenrycn says:

    …22 days, actually. I failed arithmetic in Kindergarten.

  82. johnhenrycn says:

    … but why does my birthday always have to be during Lent? So unfair.

  83. Tom Fisher says:

    …22 days, actually. I failed arithmetic in Kindergarten.

    You had me worried there for a second, especially since it’s after midday and I haven’t yet darkened the doorstep of either church or pub!

  84. Centurion13 says:

    @Tom Fisher: Good point. I will rephrase it: “I thought that Lewis had explained it (the problem of pain in a world we think is ruled by a God who is good) to my own satisfaction, and therefore presumed this was so for many others. I am surprised to hear there are people who do not accept his explanations, as logical and consistent as these explanations seem to be. Are there others in the offing?”

  85. toadspittle says:

    Well, you splendid chaps don’t really need Toad here (or anywhere, in fact) do you?
    I confess I’d have to re-read Jack on Pain, Centurion13, in order to properly address your perfectly reasonable request – and I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so, right now.
    In which case, I’d have been been wiser to say nothing in the first place. Agreed.
    (Except could I possibly be merely a Quasi, or Crypto, Toad?)
    I like the sound of the book mentioned. Will try to get hold of it. Huxley also went to his reward on the same fateful day, as we all know. That “proves” there must be “…somefink in it,” dunnit?

  86. toadspittle says:

    “…and (Lewis) seemed to believe in the Real Presence (though not apparently in transubstantiation)”
    \What do they mean, “seemed to believe”?
    Anyway mere pettifoggery concerning a man whose “…heart was in Rome,” while his head and digestive organs, were – well – someplace else.

  87. toadspittle says:

    I feel somewhat conscience-stricken about my lazy and sloppy reply above to Centurion13, so, I’ve dug up a representative bit of Lewis, from “Mere Christianity” to demonstrate my opinion, as best I can.

    “A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic —on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

    Here Lewis, either deliberately or unknowingly, fails to see two other (both rather more likely, in my opinion) options:

    Moderator writes: Two deleted sentences. We won’t tolerate heretical and blasphemous statements on CP&S. Kindly rephrase your remarks.

  88. kathleen says:

    Oops – Toad appears to be in trouble again! (^)

    On the subject of C.S. Lewis never becoming a Catholic, in my mind one of the most amazing testimonies is from H. Lyman Stebbins, an admirer of Lewis’ who was wanting to convert to Catholicism but one small curiosity held him back: How could such an outstanding thinker as Lewis not have become a Catholic himself? It was Lewis’ reasons for not becoming a Catholic that finally converted him!! As reported in ‘Catholic World Report‘:

    “H. Lyman Stebbins, founder of Catholics United for the Faith, was converted to Catholicism as a direct result of his correspondence with Lewis during the closing months of World War II. Stebbins had been given a gift of The Screwtape Letters for Christmas in 1942. “All at once,” his wife wrote many years later, “a light went on in him and over the dull landscape of his life …. That book, which obviously made a deep impression on him, opened the enormous C.S. Lewis door. He started reading all his books and was enthralled.”(7) It was, therefore, as a devotee or disciple of Lewis that Stebbins was emboldened to write to his mentor in April 1945: “I wrote to C.S. Lewis and got a fascinating and interesting reply. That letter of Lewis practically put me into the Church …. [Lewis] summoned all that he could dream up to say as an argument against my becoming a Roman Catholic and there was no substance in any of it.””

    Perhaps some people might also remember this post on CP&S from 2013 on C.S. Lewis:

    https://catholicismpure.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/c-s-lewis-on-this-day-50-years-ago/

  89. toadspittle says:

    Toad’s natural element is trouble, Kathleen. Eats it up like pumpkin pie.

    What I said was mere surmise, not heresy or blasphemy. Possibly not even true.
    But there is paranoia at work here, and interested parties will just have to guess at what it said.
    Fine.
    And, no matter which way we slice it, the idea the Lewis was a Crypto-Quasi Catholic stubbornly remains baloney.
    And ultimately, what does it matter? He was a Christian. Like Luther. And Calvin. And the Rev. Ian Paisley. And the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Surely that’s good enough?

  90. toadspittle says:

    …But, on a moment’s reflection, removing part of my comment like that isn’t “fine,” at all. It’s disgraceful cowardice, and suppression of ideas, on someone’s part. What I said was not insulting, obscene, or vulgar. Lewis would, I’m confident, have had his own answer.
    To be fair, it’s the first – and as far as I know – only time any comment has been censored simply for its intellectual (for want of a better word) content. Certainly for one of mine.

    It bodes very ill indeed for CP&S’s reputation as the World’s Finest Blog.
    I can only hope others on here insist on the moderator reinstating what I wrote, so they can confidently pick holes in it, as no doubt they would have..

  91. kathleen says:

    You have been asked to “rephrase” your remarks Toad – nothing more. Do that and they will be accepted. You have written many comments that go totally against Catholic Doctrine and yet they have been printed on here to allow for them be refuted by others as and when necessary. But if you write opposing ideas in such a way that they appear “blasphemous and heretical”, what can you expect? This is, after all, a CATHOLIC blog.🙂

  92. Centurion13 says:

    @toadspittle: I have no idea what the original statements were, but must admit I have never seen a comment struck for being heretical or blasphemous – with an addendum to that effect! I disagree with your opinion that the act was cowardly – it seems to me that handling it that way in public took guts. Most moderators would simply delete the offending post and PM the author with a warning. The atheist echo chambers out there would add insult as well, or even ban your IP (Materialist heresy must be very upsetting!).

    As you are the only one who has (thus far) commented on my own post, I look forward to your rephrasing.

  93. toadspittle says:

    I regret I can see no way of re-phrasing what I originally said in a fashion that would suit the somewhat narrow standards of the moderators, Centurion13.

    Heresy is heresy, after all. Or so it seems.

    The irony is, I was not casting heretical aspersions – on either Christ or the Church.
    I willingly admit to casting aspersions on C.S. (alias “Anglican Jack”) Lewis, and his logic.
    which, in my opinion, is faulty.
    And if we can’t cast aspersions on Protestant gobshites* here on CP&S, a fine, upstanding organ of Popery – where can we do it?
    And what is the world coming to?

    *Toad is re-reading “At Swim-Two-Birds.” Magnificently funny. Highly recommended.

  94. Tom Fisher says:

    Strange goings on while I slept! I was lucky enough to read Toad’s initial remarks Centurion, so I do know what he said.

    It was a critique of the famous “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord” argument. However much we may agree with the conclusion that Jesus is Lord, this particular argument does not work. As has been frequently pointed out by Christian and non-Christian alike. N.T. Wright, Christian apologist and fan of C.S.Lewis put it well when he said it doesn’t work as history, and it backfires dangerously when historical critics question his reading of the Gospels

    The reason it doesn’t work is that it artificially limits the choices available to us. A person prior to arriving at belief (so there is no question of heresy or blasphemy, nor was there in Toad’s remarks) would also have to consider the possibility that Jesus had been misreported in the available sources. (Which is the position of most contemporary non-Christian N.T. scholarship).

    For the argument (purely on it’s own merits) to shift a person from non-believer to believer it can’t simply take it for granted that we have direct access to the exact words and beliefs of Jesus in the gospels. The common quip is that the actual choices are “Lunatic, Liar, Lord, or Legendary Accretions to the original material”

  95. JabbaPapa says:

    I was not casting heretical aspersions

    I cannot comment, Toad, on words of yours that I have not seen — but in general terms, no faithfully Catholic forum can possibly permit, knowingly, any actually heretical and/or blasphemous statements to be present on its website, utterly regardless of whether the author of those statements deliberately intended such heresy or blasphemy, or not.

    This is because it is mortally sinful to publish any heresy or blasphemy, which is inclusive of heresies or blasphemies written by any third parties, including via responses in such comboxes as these.

  96. JabbaPapa says:

    the possibility that Jesus had been misreported in the available sources. (Which is the position of most contemporary non-Christian N.T. scholarship)

    There is not a jot of material evidence to support that position — indeed, every single piece of new material evidence that has been discovered since that theory was first posited has supported the exact opposite position — there is no philological evidence at all of what you suggest.

    There has, in fact, been a recent discovery of a fragment of papyrus recycled as a mummy wrapping (AKA a burial shroud) that has been identified as part of a 1st century copy of the Gospel of Mark.

  97. The Raven says:

    Well, Toad, you originally propounded what you considered were two valid options – that Our Lord was mistaken (but having acted on his mistake to the very limit of his life, wouldn’t that have made made him fall within Lewis’s category of “lunatic”?) or that he was misreported (what evidence do you have that would furnish a reasonable doubt that the New Testament accounts are in any way untruthful?).

  98. johnhenrycn says:

    Kathleen has linked an earlier 2013 CP&S piece about C.S. Lewis, and I see that I posted a comment there stating that I did not read his Letters to Malcolm until after converting to Catholicism, whereas above I say that I read it before converting. I think my 2013 comment must be the correct one. Nothing turns upon the point, but I thought I should acknowledge my error in recollection. He was a great man and a good Christian, and we are fortunate for his life.

  99. johnhenrycn says:

    Jabba at 18:41 – Interesting. Can you provide a link? Hopefully there will be more substance to this piece of parchment than there was to the James Ossuary a few years ago.

  100. Tom Fisher says:

    There is not a jot of material evidence to support that position

    I agree. That’s not the point. The problem is with the structure of Lewis’ argument

  101. toadspittle says:

    “…that Our Lord was mistaken (but having acted on his mistake to the very limit of his life, wouldn’t that have made made him fall within Lewis’s category of “lunatic”?
    In my opinion, Raven – no. After all, until quite recently, practically everyone believed the the sun went round the earth. Were they all lunatics? No. Could someone have died defending that mistaken belief? Quite possibly. Don’t know.
    And Jabba, I’m not suggesting the the biblical accounts of Christ are inaccurate. Way beyond my smattering of ignorance.
    Just that it’s a possibility which should be considered. And often is, in fact.
    What “evidence” do I have, Raven? None. Never said I did.
    The real point is, that Jack the Prod doesn’t consider any other options than the two he posits.
    At least, that how Toad sees it. Who very well may be wrong.

    What a splendid discussion, though! Two cheers for censorship!

  102. toadspittle says:

    We’ve gotten well off the point now, though, which is – who’s going to make a video refuting Fry, (remember him?) point by point? Or shall we just leave him in “command of the field”?

  103. johnhenrycn says:

    Why bother? As if it’s important to refute Fry. Or you. I wish you and him well; but life’s too short to spend more time talking about God with either of you. A complete waste of time, actually.

  104. Centurion13 says:

    @toadspittle: you wrote:

    “I willingly admit to casting aspersions on C.S. (alias “Anglican Jack”) Lewis, and his logic.
    which, in my opinion, is faulty.”

    Could you, in terms not considered heretical, elaborate on *why* you think Lewis’s logic is faulty? I would like to know that as well, as I have not found his logic at all faulty (though he did mis-speak a time or two).

    Also, would you please address the two questions I originally asked you? I find ‘The Problem of Pain’ explains to my satisfaction the presence of pain in a world ruled by a loving God. Why does it not do the same for you? And why would Lewis’s own adherence to the Church of England be an issue as regards the problem of pain as explained by Lewis himself?

    Thank you.

  105. toadspittle says:

    OK, Centurion13.
    I shall have to re-read the book, of course. Which, if I remember rightly, is mercifully not very long. And I have a copy on hand.
    Although, in a simple but effective fashion, Fry in the now-notorious video, puts the pertinent issues clearly enough to satisfy most unaligned folk.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/stephen-fry-on-gay-byrne-staunch-atheist-explains-what-he-would-say-if-he-was-confronted-by-god-30952841.html

    Of course, Fry has made his mind up – for now at least.
    I think what many believe, (including myself) is that Lewis is asking the question (Why pain?) to people who are already convinced a benevolent God exists.
    So, not much use to the Frys and Toads of this world, really. And as pain undoubtedly exists , and is a result of original sin – (isn’t it?) why do innocent animals have to suffer it?
    …But we shall see, on reading.

  106. Tom Fisher says:

    There has, in fact, been a recent discovery of a fragment of papyrus recycled as a mummy wrapping (AKA a burial shroud) that has been identified as part of a 1st century copy of the Gospel of Mark.

    Jabba, if this discovery is confirmed as a 1st century fragment of Mark then it will be exceptionally good news, and take us closer to the earliest copies than we have yet come. I’m not sure why you mentioned it though, since no one seriously questions that Mark was written in the 1st century. 2nd century dates have long ago been shown to be implausible.

  107. The Raven says:

    Toad

    There is a whole world of difference between delusion and mistake: chucking yourself into a volcano because you think that you’re a god, like Empedocles – delusion; unintentionally killing yourself through eating death-caps in the belief that they are ceps – mistake.

    (As far as I know, no-one has gone to their deaths for geocentrism and the main practical application of astronomy, terrestrial navigation, is agnostic as to whether we live in a geocentric or heliocentric universe).

    You can argue that e NT is inaccurate, but by doing so you are putting the cart of your own scepticism before the horse of the available evidence.

  108. Tom Fisher says:

    You can argue that e NT is inaccurate, but by doing so you are putting the cart of your own scepticism before the horse of the available evidence.

    Sorry Raven, I know you’re addressing someone else. But I commented on this too:

    The Gospels may well record the words and deeds of Jesus with perfect fidelity. — But the argument put forward by C.S. Lewis was addressed to non-believers. So the a priori position of the person who has never heard of Christianity is agnosticism as to the fidelity of the texts. In other words the Jesus of the gospels may be (from the non believers perspective) a lunatic, liar, Lord, or someone about whom legendary stories have been written. The reason C.S. Lewis’ argument doesn’t work is that he neglected the last option. — There is no need whatsoever to argue against the historicity of the N.T. (as a Christian I accept it, but Toad doesn’t) — the problem is the structural flaw in Lewis’ argument. — The gospels don’t give the unmediated access to Jesus needed to decide between the 4 options.

  109. toadspittle says:

    Tom has got me bang to rights, Raven.
    I’m glad you brought this up again, because after putting forward the geocentric argument, it struck me that Protestant martyrs, some 300, or so in Mary’s reign, I’m told – are an even better case. Yes, they were prepared to die for what you and I regard as an error. But does that make them lunatics? To Catholics, maybe it does. Not to me. I wouldn’t die for it, myself. But, then nobody’s asking me to.
    For all I know, yet again (sigh) the Gospels may be the Gospel truth. I don’t know. So I don’t, and can’t, claim them to be inaccurate.
    On the other hand they may be a pack of lies. Impossible to “prove” either way.
    Maybe they – like a lot of things – are actually a bit of both.

  110. toadspittle says:

    “Why bother? As if it’s important to refute Fry.”

    Well said, JH. A truly pragmatic statement. Let Fry say what he likes. He will anyway, and we can’t stop him by jailing him or beheading him for blasphemy – or by ripping out his tongue, as they did with Bruno.

  111. The Raven says:

    Hello Tom,

    I’m sorry that I skipped over your earlier comment. I haven’t read this particular book of Lewis’s, but wouldn’t the argument that the NT was untruthful fall within the category of “liar” already posited by Lewis?

  112. The Raven says:

    Toad,

    The Protestants who suffered were like the individual eating the death-cap, which they’d mistaken for a tasty bolete; they weren’t acting under a delusion about their own nature.

  113. Tom Fisher says:

    wouldn’t the argument that the NT was untruthful fall within the category of “liar” already posited by Lewis?

    No I don’t think it would fall within the “liar” category. For example, if any particular act by Jesus happened to be exaggerated after the fact, and the exaggerated version was incorporated into Mark’s Gospel, we wouldn’t blame Jesus for that.

  114. toadspittle says:

    Is it a fact that we don’t even know with any confidence the year in which Christ was born?
    If this is so, well.. I’ll leave it at that.
    I also gather Ex Pope Benedict said Christ wasn’t born in a stable. So, I assume it’s all right to believe He wasn’t. But other bits must be believed? Right?

  115. kathleen says:

    Toad and Tom,

    “But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

    When we pray the Creed, we say: “I believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”.
    Our Faith is based on the witness and testimony of the Apostles (and their immediate followers) who have brought the words of Jesus faithfully down to us in the writings in the books we call the New Testament through the Catholic Church.
    These Apostles lived with Jesus and witnessed first hand His Life, Miracles, Death and Resurrection etc., and then after 40 days His Ascension into Heaven. They realised their mission to “go and teach all Nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” came from God Himself. They suffered unspeakably horrific persecution (and deaths) to fulfill Jesus’ command to them. Nothing in this world could stop them; they knew life on Earth was no more than preparation for Life with God in Eternity; they knew in Whom they had put their trust… and thousands of followers, seeing the miracles and goodness of these chosen men, embraced the faith they knew to be truly from God.

    Just think about it for a minute; how could the Apostles have “lied” or “exaggerated” what they knew was a command from the Son of God Himself. (Lying is sinful and goes against the eighth commandment; would they have sunk to what they knew were falsehoods after their Lord had spoken so severely about the consequences of willful sin?)
    This same Jesus, Who fulfilled all the prophesies in the ancient writings about the awaited Messiah, Whose teaching was spoken “with authority” and Whose amazing miracles He performed to demonstrate the truth of His Divinity, had promised the Holy Spirit to His Apostles to give them the courage and ‘fire’ within to inspire them to do extraordinary deeds and spread the Faith to the far ends of the [known] world. “He that believes in me, the works that I do he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do” Jesus said to them.

    And so they did in many ways. Not by the sword, but by love and faithful witness to Christ and His teaching, they passed the True Faith on within the framework of the Church Christ had “built” on Peter and them, His Apostles (bishops), to keep the message pure and free from heresy, so that we, 2.000 years later, “may [still] have life, and have it abundantly.”

  116. toadspittle says:

    Well, I can’t – obviously – answer for Tom. And suspect he won’t care to be lumped with me.

    But again – how did Luke get hold of the story about Christ and Satan’s encounter in the desert?
    Is it a stupid question?
    If so, why?

  117. toadspittle says:

    “These Apostles lived with Jesus and witnessed first hand His Life, Miracles, Death and Resurrection etc., “

    …and yet nobody even asked Him what year he was born in, so I gather.
    Am I right on that? Maybe not. I will be told.
    What about the famous census that is not mentioned anywhere else in official Roman history except the NT, (or so I believe) and – remarkably – expected everyone to go back to where they were born.
    Imagine the effect of that today.
    (Yawn. That was then, Toad.)

  118. Tom Fisher says:

    Kathleen,

    The – whole – point – of – what – I’m – saying – is – that – C.S Lewis’ – argument – doesn’t – consider – an – option – that – a – NON-BELIEVER – would – have – to – consider-..(the accuracy of the gospels)

    That is why that particular argument is internally inadequate.

    I’m – not – arguing – that – the N.T – is – not – accurate.

    I can’t spell it out more clearly than that.

  119. kathleen says:

    @ Tom

    I know you were referring to non-believers and not yourself – I had read what you had said above.
    But I was simply stating that the argument for these non-believers (not you personally) to understand why we Christians do believe that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind, has been brought down to us by the testimony and the writings of His followers, the Apostles. The outstanding witness, miracles, feats and final excruciating painful martyrdoms of all of them* in those early years after Pentecost, would just not have been possible if it were (as Toad suggests) a lie or a myth.

    * We know that only St. John the Evangelist died a natural death.

  120. kathleen says:

    @ Toad

    It appears there were some miscalculations of the year of Our Saviour’s Birth, and that He was most likely born somewhere between the years 1 and 7 B.C. See here: http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/in-what-year-was-christ-actually-born.html

    The date and month of His Birth are nonetheless accurately celebrated on 25th December. See here: http://taylormarshall.com/2012/12/yes-christ-was-really-born-on-december.html

    (P.S. Toad, do you really need me to do your homework for you?😉 )

  121. Toad,
    “…and yet nobody even asked Him what year he was born in, so I gather.
    Am I right on that? Maybe not. I will be told.”
    The Gospel writers were writing biographies without the convenience of the modern dating system or that of unlimited space. The dates of were not theological importance, and as we cannot know for certain. However, you have not read that Christ was about thirty in the Sixteenth year of the Reign of Tiberius? Could you not calculate from that? And in any case, we cannot even find out in certainty the date of Julius Caesar’s birth with certainty in spite of the historical documents about him and keep in mind that Dionysius Exiguus might have been right after all.

    “What about the famous census that is not mentioned anywhere else in official Roman history except the NT, (or so I believe) and – remarkably – expected everyone to go back to where they were born.”
    With Caesar Augustus’ reign began the reform of the Roman Revenue system, describe here in this passage from wikipedia, “The measures of taxation in the reign of Augustus were determined by population census, with fixed quotas for each province.[225] Citizens of Rome and Italy paid indirect taxes, while direct taxes were exacted from the provinces.[225] [225 Bunson, Matthew. (1994). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. New York: Facts on File Inc. ISBN 978-0-8160-3182-5]
    Not everyone was required to go back to where they were born, only the inhabitants of the province of Palestine by the order of the Roman Governor.

  122. Kathleen,
    Because of the calender reforms, I believe the dates of March 25 and December 25 might be accurately rendered April 3 and January 6.

  123. Centurion13 says:

    @Tom Fisher: You wrote:

    “…In other words the Jesus of the gospels may be (from the non believers perspective) a lunatic, liar, Lord, or someone about whom legendary stories have been written. The reason C.S. Lewis’ argument doesn’t work is that he neglected the last option.”

    I believe, though I do not have the text in front of me, that Lewis refuted the idea that the story of Jesus, as found in the various Gospels (?), was legend. The structure of the story, the depth of detail in some instances, the presence of unconnected detail in others, and the *lack* of detail in still other instances, pretty much put the kibosh on that idea. In short, to Lewis, who was steeped in legends, the story of Christ as a whole wasn’t *good* enough to be a legend.

    Comments?

  124. johnhenrycn says:

    “Comments?” asks Centurion:
    I’ve only been following this thread in a lackadaisical way (too much pond life on it don’t you know) but it did make me wonder this morning whilst shaving if there are any sayings attributed to Jesus which are contradictory. I think we can find some metaphorical ones ( in the parables perhaps) that are seemingly so, but without Googling, I can’t think offhand of any blunt literal sayings of Jesus that are.

  125. Centurion13 says:

    This is what I am getting at.

    First, a bit from Wikipedia:

    “Larry Hurtado, who argues that the followers of Jesus within a very short period developed an exceedingly high level of devotional reverence to Jesus, at the same time rejects the view that Jesus made a claim to messiahship or divinity to his disciples during his life as “naive and ahistorical”.”

    And now the source of the statement I last made here:

    http://orthodox-web.tripod.com/papers/fern_seed.html

    Lewis warned, in essence, that traveling down this road was not only an error, it was one that would ruin the Anglican Church in the end. I recall reading also his piece on Priestesses in the Church and must admit that all he spoke has, indeed, come to pass. I believe he said that one of two things would occur: the churchgoer would either become an atheist or a Roman Catholic.

    Has this not been what is happening? And he warned us fifty or sixty years ago. This is not something that sprung upon us. I have been out, briefly, on the web and have seen supporters of the Trilemma, their critics, the arguments for and against, and must conclude that Lewis’s trilemma was aimed at an audience that was chiefly made up of Believers. After all, if you will not accept the accounts in the Bible, why would you call yourself a Christian?

    I guess my confusion is this: these arguments and their rebuttals appear to have been around for a long, long time. Surely at one point or another the issues, or at least some of them, will have been decided in favor of reason and evidence, experience and faith. The constant raising of issues which have, at least in my eyes, been laid to rest half a century ago is puzzling. It’s as though someone came along to a discussion of, say, Voyager’s fly-by of Saturn and raised an objection based on Ptolemy’s epicycles.

  126. Centurion13 says:

    @johnhenrycn: I can think of only one instance: Lewis commented on that as well in his piece “The World’s Last Night”.

    “Say what you like” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Chris-
    tians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done” And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”

    It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are In heaven, neither the Son, but the Father’ The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side. That they stood thus in the mouth of Jesus himself, and were not merely placed thus by the reporter, we surely need not doubt. Unless the reporter were perfectly honest he would never have recorded the confession of ignorance at all; he could have had no motive for doing so except a desire to tell the whole truth. And unless later copyists were equally honest they would never have preserved the (apparently) mistaken prediction about “this generation** after the passage of time had shown the (apparent) mistake. This passage (Mark 13:30-32) and the cry “Why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) together make up the strongest proof that the New Testament is historically reliable. The evangelists have the first great characteristic of honest witnesses: they mention facts which are, at first sight, damaging to their main contention.

    The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be. For a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance.

  127. toadspittle says:

    “To believe in the Incarnation, to believe that he is God, makes it hard to understand how he could be ignorant; but also makes it certain that, if he said he could be ignorant, then ignorant he could really be. For a God who can be ignorant is less baffling than a God who falsely professes ignorance.”

    ..but baffling, nonetheless.
    All too baffling for a thick old toad.
    …But I love the final sentence there.
    Centurion, I’ve ransacked the house looking for “Problem of Pain.” No luck. I begin to suspect a pilgrim might have stolen it. Let’s hope so. But I suppose there is Kindle. However, time passes, so will this do, from dim memory?
    An objection I had when reading it, which Lewis, as I seem to recall, fails to address in a manner I regarded as satisfactory. (All a bit “iffy,” I admit)

    If man brought pain (and death) to Planet Earth as a result of his Original Sin – why then must innocent animals also suffer?

    Which, as I write, brings up plants. Were they immortal before The Fall?
    Dopey question, surely?

  128. Centurion13 says:

    Lewis himself added a section to ‘The Problem of Pain’ that presented several ideas, but even he wrote that it was, in effect, all suppositional.

    “So far as we know beasts are incapable either of sin or virtue: therefore they can neither deserve pain nor be improved by it. At the same time we must never allow the problem of animal suffering to become the centre of the problem of pain; not because it is unimportant – whatever furnishes plausible grounds for questioning the goodness of God is very important indeed – but because it is outside the range of our knowledge. God has given us data which enables us, in some degree, to understand our own suffering: He has given us no such data about beasts. We know neither why they were made nor what they are, and everything we say about them is speculative.”

    Further on, he adds:

    “The complete silence of Scripture and Chrisian tradition on animal immortality is a more serious objection, but it would be fatal only if Christian revelation showed any signs of being intended as a ‘systeme de la nature’ answering all questions. But it is nothing of the sort: the curtain has been rent at one point, and at one point only, to reveal our immediate practical necessities and not to satisfy our intellectual curiosity.”

  129. Tom Fisher says:

    @Kathleen, sorry I was feeling irritable (this morning NZ time) when I posted my last comment. Sorry, it was a bit rude.

  130. JabbaPapa says:

    the main practical application of astronomy, terrestrial navigation, is agnostic as to whether we live in a geocentric or heliocentric universe

    erm, no — the theory of Relativity itself is agnostic as to whether we live in a geocentric or heliocentric universe.

  131. JabbaPapa says:

    The gospels don’t give the unmediated access to Jesus needed to decide between the 4 options

    Can you please provide some proof of your statement ?

  132. JabbaPapa says:

    For example, if any particular act by Jesus happened to be exaggerated after the fact, and the exaggerated version was incorporated into Mark’s Gospel, we wouldn’t blame Jesus for that.

    Your story would be wholly dependent on the existence of some bizarre 1st century conspiracy — ‘cos let’s face it, the old 19th century atheist claim that the text of the NT may have shifted over time is directly contradicted by all of the relevant evidence — whereas you would be completely unable to provide us with even a single 1st century source to support the contents of your prejudice.

  133. JabbaPapa says:

    I also gather Ex Pope Benedict said Christ wasn’t born in a stable

    As does the Bible, Toad …

  134. JabbaPapa says:

    Well, I can’t – obviously – answer for Tom. And suspect he won’t care to be lumped with me.

    hmmmmm …. don’t tempt me LOL

    But again – how did Luke get hold of the story about Christ and Satan’s encounter in the desert?
    Is it a stupid question?

    Of course it’s not a stupid question — but blatantly, there is only one sensible answer ; every other answer would be directly dependent on the existence of some very silly 1st century conspiracy of a deliberately fraudulent nature, that literally thousands of people would have needed to collaborate with, and not one single literate traitor among them.

    Oh, except of course that there WERE traitors, weren’t there ? Where are their 1st century denunciations against the evidence of the Gospels ?

    Or isn’t this just yet another evidence-free query based on nothing more than the 19th century irreligiosity that you seem to base so much of your thinking on ?

  135. JabbaPapa says:

    Kathleen,

    The – whole – point – of – what – I’m – saying – is – that – C.S Lewis’ – argument – doesn’t – consider – an – option – that – a – NON-BELIEVER – would – have – to – consider-..(the accuracy of the gospels)

    That is why that particular argument is internally inadequate.

    I’m – not – arguing – that – the N.T – is – not – accurate.

    I can’t spell it out more clearly than that.

    Thank. You. For. Spelling. Out. Exactly. How. Stupid. You. Think. We. Are. In. Here.

  136. JabbaPapa says:

    “What about the famous census that is not mentioned anywhere else in official Roman history except the NT, (or so I believe) and – remarkably – expected everyone to go back to where they were born.”

    With Caesar Augustus’ reign began the reform of the Roman Revenue system, describe here in this passage from wikipedia, “The measures of taxation in the reign of Augustus were determined by population census, with fixed quotas for each province.[225] Citizens of Rome and Italy paid indirect taxes, while direct taxes were exacted from the provinces.[225] [225 Bunson, Matthew. (1994). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. New York: Facts on File Inc. ISBN 978-0-8160-3182-5]
    Not everyone was required to go back to where they were born, only the inhabitants of the province of Palestine by the order of the Roman Governor.

    Yes. And it was actually just the heads of family, not “everyone” — this “everyone” theory is supported by zero evidence.

    Furthermore, we have ample evidence that the Roman State organised both general and local censuses — and it is a simple fact that not only have more than 99% of 1st century texts been forever lost, as well as being a simple fact that all local administrative documents were completely destroyed in AD 78 by the Roman army when they destroyed Jerusalem.

    So that it is entirely unsurprising if the existence of this or that census should be mentioned in only one single source — it is most likely that the vast majority of local censuses are mentioned nowhere at all.

    Furthermore, each general census took seven years to complete, as the censors would do their work one Province at a time, instead of any census being universally organised throughout the whole Empire simultaneously.

  137. JabbaPapa says:

    Kathleen,
    Because of the calender reforms, I believe the dates of March 25 and December 25 might be accurately rendered April 3 and January 6.

    This is irrelevant both to the Roman calender of 2000 years ago, and to the contemporary Jewish one.

  138. JabbaPapa says:

    It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done” And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”

    My view is that they failed to understand that Jesus was telling them about His death and Resurrection ; which did indeed come to pass during that generation.

  139. Tom Fisher says:

    Can you please provide some proof of your statement ?

    Jabba if you expand on your question of 07:53 I will try to answer it. On the face of it, what I said seems self evident. But I’m sure it’s not

  140. JabbaPapa says:

    Jabba if you expand on your question of 07:53 I will try to answer it. On the face of it, what I said seems self evident. But I’m sure it’s not

    You’re the one who made a statement, not me.

    Not my burden of proof, sorry.

    And you should be careful of the so-called “self-evident” — often, it’s just a manifestation of one’s own (unavoidable) prejudice.

  141. Tom Fisher says:

    The gospels don’t give the unmediated access to Jesus needed to decide between the 4 options

    The choice between Lunatic, Liar, Lord, or legendary accretion, can’t be decided simply by reading the gospels, and considering the portrayal of Jesus therein. it can’t be taken for granted (for the purposes of C.S.’s argument) that the gospels provide unmediated access to the words and deeds of Jesus. Surely that is clear enough Jabba.

  142. JabbaPapa says:

    I didn’t ask you to simply restate your claims — I asked you to prove them.

    Can you provide any actual proof that Christ was a liar or a lunatic ?

    As already discussed, the old 19th century “legendary accretion” theory is contradicted by evidence demonstrating the 1st century origin of the contents of those texts.

  143. Tom Fisher says:

    Jabba,

    Are you able to comprehend that the problem with C.S.L’s argument is that it ignores an option which the non-believer would have to consider, or are you not able to?

    Why on earth do you saying things like Can you provide any actual proof that Christ was a liar or a lunatic ? Christ was neither a lunatic or a liar. I never suggested he was.

  144. Tom Fisher says:

    Jabba,

    Here is a bad argument with a correct conclusion:

    All countries starting with the letter ‘G’ are in Europe, therefore Germany is in Europe

    By analogy:

    I agree with the conclusion of C.S.L’s argument, but not the argument itself. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to communicate that fact.

  145. Tom Fisher says:

    The non-believer is not confronted with three choices (lunatic, liar, Lord), they are confronted with four choices (lunatic, liar, Lord, legend). To dismiss the fourth possibility involves a great deal of work, which can’t be assumed a priori in an argument designed to convert the unbeliever. As the impeccably devout N.T. Wright said it: doesn’t work as history, and it backfires dangerously when historical critics question his reading of the Gospels

  146. JabbaPapa says:

    Are you able to comprehend … or are you not able to?

    Thick as a brick, that’s me …

    Why on earth do you saying things like Can you provide any actual proof that Christ was a liar or a lunatic ? Christ was neither a lunatic or a liar. I never suggested he was.

    In proposing that view as being “self-evident” and valid, you have very clearly suggested that it should be taken seriously — but you have failed to prove why it should be.

  147. JabbaPapa says:

    The non-believer is not confronted with three choices (lunatic, liar, Lord), they are confronted with four choices (lunatic, liar, Lord, legend). To dismiss the fourth possibility involves a great deal of work

    … which has already been done.

    It is only through a process of very willful prejudice that anyone can come to think that Jesus of Nazareth is a mere figure of “legend” ; in any case, the notion cannot be seriously entertained by any even semi-competent student of science or history, and can be entirely dismissed as any sort of “serious” proposition.

    The imaginations of those who screech for evidence, but then stubbornly deny the historical evidence that is presented to them can be entirely ignored.

  148. Brother Burrito says:

    Jesus is not met by means of arguments, He comes like a thief upon the unwary seeker, distracted and tired by debate.

    He cannot be summoned, unlike His adversary.

  149. toadspittle says:

    “…but because it is outside the range of our knowledge. God has given us data which enables us, in some degree,* to understand our own suffering: He has given us no such data about beasts. We know neither why they were made nor what they are, and everything we say about them is speculative.”
    So, Centurion13 (thanks for helping me out here, by the way) this will be my last word on Jack The Lad: (God willing)
    I find his statement above completely unsatisfactory. I don’t care whether it’s “right’ or “wrong,”
    on God’s part, rather than Lewis’s – assuming Lewis is right. Lewis seems to be saying there is a known and plausible reason for humans, but not for tigers, which is absurd to me, who can see no sensible reason for humans existing and tigers not. Although I’d have considerable sympathy for the notion of tigers existing and humans not.
    It just means we don’t know a damn thing, which is, in my opinion, not very safe ground on which to base one’s hopes and ambitions for The Next World.
    …If you get my drift, which I’m not sure I do myself.
    And everything we say about everything metaphysical is speculative – and we are all beasts.
    I think we’d all agree that much, anyway. (well, the first bit, at least.)

    Which is, as I think I originally wrote, why I found “The Problem of Pain,” unconvincing.
    Though I might be wrong. Often am.

    *Weasel words!

  150. toadspittle says:

    At the risk of being even more tedious and prolix than usual – I wrote that, in my opinion, C.S. Lewis “signally failed” to solve “The Problem of Pain.”
    My comment above, on Centurion”s kindly extract, ought to make it somewhat clearer why I wrote that.

  151. JabbaPapa says:

    God has given us data which enables us, in some degree, to understand our own suffering

    erm, bearing in mind that one should handle the story of Eden with care — your statement is actually subtly incompatible with the Dogma of Original Sin.

    God did not give the knowledge of good and evil to mankind ; we have it from a theft.

  152. Centurion13 says:

    @Toadspittle: I sampled only a small part of what Lewis wrote in response to your comment. Of course, he went on from there and explained quite a lot more. I chose those passages because they were (somewhat) brief and were to my point – not because I thought that they, in their entirety, would refute your conclusion that Lewis ‘failed’. Please, get a copy of the book and read the section “On Animal Pain”. These two paragraphs are but snippets and I think you do yourself a disservice using them to illustrate your conclusions of ‘signal failure’.

  153. Centurion13 says:

    @Jabba: sir? How on *earth* did you get from that statement – which is Lewis’s, not mine – to the Garden of Eden? Such a jump would appear to involve a whole host of assumptions whose support I cannot find in the text I presented. I have no idea whether Lewis’s statement is ‘subtly incompatible with the Doctrine of Original Sin’, but I suppose that if it is, that is because it has *nothing to do with said Doctrine*. I think you read too much into the statement.

  154. toadspittle says:

    Well it was C.S.Lewis who said that, Jabba. Just to clarify things for our less acute readers (such as me).
    “…one should handle the story of Eden with care.” /i>
    Indeed, And kid gloves. It is very fragile. Indeed.

    “God did not give the knowledge of good and evil to mankind ; we have it from a theft.”
    …What a wonderful and stimulating idea!

    0 0

  155. JabbaPapa says:

    Then Lewis’ statement is subtly incompatible with the Dogma of Original Sin, and I stand corrected on the authorship of the statement.

    Suffering (knowledge of evil) is the direct product of Original Sin — something that Lewis, as a Protestant, clearly did not accept.

  156. toadspittle says:

    “Subtly incompatible”! Cripes!
    On what other blog are we going to stumble across felicitous phrases of that ilk?

    If Original Sin really is the source of all mortal evil – I’m in for it. Big time. And my dogs.

  157. toadspittle says:

    “I think you do yourself a disservice using them to illustrate your conclusions of ‘signal failure’.”
    Very likely, Centurion13. I have spent my entire life doing myself a series of disservices – to put it mildly – largely involving women and strong drink.
    But my contention here is that the argument, re other animals than human ones – and involving innocence – makes my point.
    But who knows? I will read the book again. (sigh) Eventually. Reluctantly.

    What is most amusing to me – as a thick old toad – is the grovelling devotion and forelock-tugging, paid daily, on a Catholic website to an unrepentantly Protestant heretic.
    We wouldn’t do it for Luther, I suspect.
    …Or would we? As Isis snaps at the edges?

  158. johnhenrycn says:

    Oh, is there an unrepentant Proddy in our midst? Better a serious Protestant than a frivolous agnostic, not mentioning any names. But, like I say above, I haven’t been assiduously following this particular thread (158 comments!). Is it Centurion? I notice he was kind enough, at 04:07, to address my question at 01:09 about whether Jesus ever contradicted Himself, in reply to which he then cites Mk. 13:30 –
    “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.”
    …and then Centurion cites the seeming contradiction at Mk. 13:32 –
    “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

    Now, I’m not a expert linguist – not any sort of linguist, actually – but let me ask this: What does the word “generation” mean in Mk. 13:30? Here’s one answer that’s been suggested:

    “What if when Jesus used the word “generation” (Greek genea), He didn’t mean the same thing that we mean? What if He wasn’t using “generation” to refer to a group of people all living at the same period of history?…Sometimes genea (“generation”) was used as a synonym of genos (“race,” “stock,” “nation,” “people”).Thus, Jesus’ words might be rendered, “This people shall not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.” In that rendering, He could have been referring to the Jewish people (which is the most likely given the context) or to the Church – for both Israel and the Church are given divine promises that they would remain in existence until the end of time (Jeremiah 31:35-37; Matthew 16:18).

    http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/4309/what-does-jesus-mean-with-this-generation-and-all-these-things-in-mark-1330

  159. johnhenrycn says:

    Have tried to post a comment. No luck. Reposted it. Also no luck. Any thoughts?

    A Moderator writes: You have a new IP address which must have tripped the spam filter. Fixed.

  160. “We wouldn’t do it for Luther, I suspect.
    …Or would we? As Isis snaps at the edges?”
    I’m afraid that Luther would agree with ISIS more than with the Church today.

    ““to fight against the Turk is the same thing as resisting God, who visits our sin upon us with this rod.”
    “…as though our people were an army of Christians against the Turks, who were enemies of Christ. This is absolutely contrary to Christ’s doctrine and name”
    He did get one thing right though: “In the first place, if there is to be war against the Turk, it should be fought at the emperor’s command, under his banner, and in his name.”
    (- On the War Against the Turks)

  161. johnhenrycn says:

    Oh, is there an unrepentant Proddy in our midst? Better a serious Protestant than a frivolous agnostic, not mentioning any names. But, like I say above, I haven’t been assiduously following this particular thread (158 comments!). Is it Centurion? I notice he was kind enough, at 04:07, to address my question at 01:09 about whether Jesus ever contradicted Himself, in reply to which he then cites Mk. 13:30 –
    “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.”
    …and then he cites the seeming contradiction at Mk. 13:32 –
    “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

    Now, I’m not a expert linguist – not any sort of linguist, actually – but let me ask this: What does the word “generation” mean in Mk. 13:30? Here’s one answer that’s been suggested:

    “What if when Jesus used the word “generation” (Greek genea), He didn’t mean the same thing that we mean? What if He wasn’t using “generation” to refer to a group of people all living at the same period of history?…Sometimes genea (“generation”) was used as a synonym of genos (“race,” “stock,” “nation,” “people”).Thus, Jesus’ words might be rendered, “This people shall not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.” In that rendering, He could have been referring to the Jewish people (which is the most likely given the context) or to the Church – for both Israel and the Church are given divine promises that they would remain in existence until the end of time (Jeremiah 31:35-37; Matthew 16:18).

  162. johnhenrycn says:

    It looks like the link I gave for my comment at 21:10 is why I had trouble posting that comment (until I removed the link), which was to a blog called Christianity Stack Exchange: “…a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.” Anyway, I won’t post that link again even though it didn’t seem to be a bad one.

  163. toadspittle says:

    “Better a serious Protestant than a frivolous agnostic,”
    Every blessed time, JH. No argument there.

    “Have tried to post a comment. No luck. Reposted it. Also no luck. Any thoughts?”
    God didn’t agree with it?

    Johnny Turk is a rascally fellow, all right, Habsburg, etc. etc. – He’ll slit your throat for a shiny red apple. (Or so I’ve been told.) You have been warned.

  164. “He’ll slit your throat for a shiny red apple. (Or so I’ve been told.)”
    It will be a blood red apple, and sold very dearly.

  165. johnhenrycn says:

    Toad, I am unable to make hide or hair of HRM’s latest comment, and I’m not even from Southern Swabia. But as for you, apologies for my “pond life” allusion yesterday, which might have been misinterpreted. It was meant in the literal (i.e. Toad) sense, not the idiomatic one.

  166. johnhenrycn says:

    Further to my question at 21:10 regarding what Jesus meant at Mk. 30:13…I don’t think Jesus spoke to his disciples in Greek, and if His words were spoken in Aramaic (possibly Hebrew) and later translated into Greek, that compounds the uncertainty about the meaning of “generation” as it appears in translations of the New Testament out of the original Greek text. What are the various meanings of the Greek word for “generation” in Aramaic (or Hebrew)? Even in modern English, “generation” has multiple meanings, including family, race and stock. So I ask Centurion, did C.S.Lewis address this issue of interpretation re: Mk. 30:13 in those of his works with which you are familiar?

  167. johnhenrycn says:

    As we know, the Gospel of Matthew uses almost the exact same words as does Mark:
    [34] “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.”

    [36] “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

    Both citations (Matthew above and my Mark ones at 21:10) are from the RSV – Catholic Edition.

    I don’t wish to comment here on the near exact similarities between these passages from Matthew and Mark, but notice how in both Gospels only one verse separates Jesus’ prophesy about “this generation” and His later admission of ignorance about the End Times. Now, I ask you, how likely is it that He would contradict Himself in such way and within less than a minute? Is it not probable, indeed certain, that something about the Aramaic word for “generation” has been mistranslated before its translation into English?

  168. kathleen says:

    @ JH

    I believe you might have missed Jabba’s response to this question JH. At 8:34 this morning he suggests:

    “My view is that they failed to understand that Jesus was telling them about His death and Resurrection ; which did indeed come to pass during that generation.”

  169. johnhenrycn says:

    I did see it, Kathleen, and thought about including a reference to it in my comment at 21:10, but decided it would distract from the point I wished to make – what did “generation” mean in the language and in the context Jesus was using? Jabba’s suggestion may be right, but I don’t think it is the only possible correct interpretation, let alone the only possible Catholic one. I would like to read more about this.

  170. johnhenrycn says:

    “This generation will not pass away before all these things take place.”

    …to be clear: Jabba’s interpretation of “generation” as used by Jesus in the passage cited would mean the people living when Jesus did. An alternative meaning is that the Jewish or Christian people will not pass away until “all these things come to pass”. Both of those people are prophesied to survive until the end (Jeremiah 31:35-37 and Matthew 16:18).

  171. johnhenrycn says:

    Just one last sally: How is Mk. 13:30 to bereconciled with Mk. 13:32 if Jesus meant “this generation” in Mk.13:30 to mean the generation living when he did? He said all of these words during Holy Week, so for Him to say at Mk. 13:32 that He did not know when His prophecy at Mk. 13:30 would come to pass does not compute.

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