The old culture war rages on

The culture war is essentially a struggle to see if the West will have ametaphysical culture or an anti-metaphysical culture. An anti-metaphysical culture must give way to nihilism, anarchy, and the upsurge of unchecked evil. Thus, the long-term prospects for the survival of Western Civilization will be determined by the outcome of the culture war.

Metaphysics, faith, and reason

Is there a connection between metaphysics, faith, and reason? Yes. Faith and reason help us to connect with the metaphysical realm. Metaphysics enriches and stabilizes both faith and reason. For example, metaphysical theology and ethics provide boundaries in which faith and reason must operate.

Western metaphysics produced a culture that was both uniquely rational and uniquely welcoming to religious faith. Prior to the bifurcation of Western culture, faith and reason were strongly allied. After the bifurcation, faith and reason were in tension. Today, faith and reason are hostile to one another in some quarters. This current situation is historically abnormal and culturally unhealthy.

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Peter Kreeft on what we know for sure about apples … and abortion!

I will try to prove the simple, common-sensical reasonableness of the pro-life case by a sort of Socratic logic. My conclusion is that Roe v. Wade must be overturned, and my fundamental reason for this is not only because of what abortion is but because we all know what abortion is.

This is obviously a controversial conclusion, and initially unacceptable to all pro-choicers. So, my starting point must be noncontroversial. It is this:

We know what an apple is. I will try to persuade you that if we know what an apple is, Roe v. Wade must be overthrown, and that if you want to defend Roe, you will probably want to deny that we know what an apple is.

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Saint Anselm’s Ontological Argument for the Existence of God

Ontology: The philosophical inquiry into the nature of being. A branch of metaphysics.

The ontological argument was devised by Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), who wanted to produce a single, simple demonstration which would show that God is and what God is. Single it may be, but far from simple. It is, perhaps, the most controversial proof for the existence of God. Most people who first hear it are tempted to dismiss it immediately as an interesting riddle, but distinguished thinkers of every age, including our own, have risen to defend it. For this very reason it is the most intensely philosophical proof for God’s existence; its place of honor is not within popular piety, but rather textbooks and professional journals. We include it, with a minimum of discussion, not because we think it conclusive or irrefutable, but for the sake of completeness.

Anselm’s Version

1) It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone.

2) “God” means “that than which a greater cannot be thought.”

3) Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.

4) Then a greater than God could be thought (namely, a being that has all the qualities our thought of God has plus real existence).

5) But this is impossible, for God is “that than which a greater cannot be thought.”

6) Therefore God exists in the mind and in reality.

Question 1: Suppose I deny that God exists in the mind?

Reply: In that case the argument could not conclude that God exists in the mind and in reality. But note: the denial commits you to the view that there is no concept of God. And very few would wish to go that far.

Question 2: Is it really greater for something to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone?

Reply: The first premise of this argument is often misunderstood. People sometimes say: “Isn’t an imaginary disease better than a real one?” Well it certainly is better—and so a greater thing—for you that the disease is not real. But that strengthens Anselm’s side of the argument. Real bacteria are greater than imaginary ones, just because they have something that imaginary ones lack: real being. They have an independence, and therefore an ability to harm, that nothing can have whose existence is wholly dependent on your thought. It is this greater level of independence that makes them greater as beings. And that line of thinking does not seem elusive or farfetched.

Question 3: But is real being just another “thought” or “concept”? Is “real being” just one more concept or characteristic (like “omniscience” or “omnipotence”) that could make a difference to the kind of being God is?

Reply: Real being does make a real difference. The question is: Does it make a conceptual difference? Critics of the argument say that it does not. They say that just because real being makes all the difference it cannot be one more quality among others. Rather it is the condition of there being something there to have any qualities at all. When the proof says that God is the greatest being that can be “thought,” it means that there are various perfections or qualities that God has to a degree no creature possibly could, qualities that are supremely admirable. But to say that such a being exists is to say that there really is something which is supremely admirable. And that is not one more admirable quality among others.

Is it greater to exist in reality as well as in the mind? Of course, incomparably greater. But the difference is not a conceptual one. And yet the argument seems to treat it as if it were—as if the believer and the nonbeliever could not share the same concept of God. Clearly they do. They disagree not about the content of this concept, but about whether the kind of being it describes really exists. And that seems beyond the power of merely conceptual analysis, as used in this argument, to answer. So question 3, we think, really does invalidate this form of the ontological argument.

Modal Version

Charles Hartshorne and Norman Malcolm developed this version of the ontological argument. Both find it implicitly contained in the third chapter of Anselm’s Proslogion.

1) The expression “that being than which a greater cannot be thought” (GCB, for short) expresses a consistent concept.

2) GCB cannot be thought of as: a. necessarily nonexistent; or as b. contingently existing but only as c. necessarily existing.

3) So GCB can only be thought of as the kind of being that cannot not exist, that must exist.

4) But what must be so is so.

5) Therefore, GCB (i.e., God) exists.

Question: Just because GCB must be thought of as existing, does that mean that GCB really exists?

Reply: If you must think of something as existing, you cannot think of it as not existing. But then you cannot deny that GCB exists; for then you are thinking what you say cannot be thought—namely, that GCB does not exist.

Possible Worlds Version

This variation on the modal version has been worked out in great detail by Alvin Plantinga. We have done our best to simplify it.

Definitions:

Maximal excellence: To have omnipotence, omniscience and moral perfection in some world.

Maximal greatness: To have maximal excellence in every possible world.

1) There is a possible world (W) in which there is a being (X) with maximal greatness.

2) But X is maximally great only if X has maximal excellence in every possible world.

3) Therefore X is maximally great only if X has omnipotence, omniscience and moral perfection in every possible world.

4) In W, the proposition “There is no omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being” would be impossible—that is, necessarily false.

5) But what is impossible does not vary from world to world.

6) Therefore, the proposition, “There is no omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being” is necessarily false in this actual world, too.

7) Therefore, there actually exists in this world, and must exist in every possible world, an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being.

See nineteen more proofs for the existence of God

A Specter is Haunting America — Socialism

Socialism is described currently as a system of social and economic organization based on collective or state ownership and administration of the means of production. It is also a philosophical and political theory, in addition to the political movement trying to establish this system. Thus, socialism is more than an economic system. It is a doctrinal system that proposes a major change in lifestyle and social structures.

In fact, as Jesuit philosopher Fr. Victor Cathrein has rightly pointed out:

“We call Socialism a system of political economy, not as if it did not also lead to many political and social changes, but because the gist of socialism consists in the nationalization of property and in the public administration and distribution of all goods.”

Nevertheless, “The fundamental principles of socialism belong not to economical but to metaphysical science. Foremost among its tenets is the equality of man…”[5]

Socialism is, therefore, much more than an economic, social or political system: it is a whole view of man and the universe. It is what the Germans call a Weltanshauung (a comprehensive view of the world and human life).

It is this worldview, grounded on egalitarian metaphysics, that will be the object of this explanation.

Preliminary Remark: Socialism and Communism

From the ideological or philosophical standpoint, there is no substantial difference, properly speaking, between communism and socialism. The founders of modern communism −Karl Marx and Frederick Engels− called themselves “socialists.”[6]

The very motherland of communism, the Soviet Union, called itself the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; likewise Communist China, Cuba and Vietnam define themselves as socialist.[7]

Socialism can be applied in varying degrees. Thus, in practice, there can be a difference between an incomplete application of socialism and full-blown communism, which is socialism taken to its ultimate consequences.

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Evidence of a Creator is tough for many scientists to “swallow”

FrSpitzerDenver, Colo., Sep 30, 2009 / 03:35 pm (CNA).- Contemporary astrophysics hold the scientific key to prove the existence of God, but unfortunately very few know the scientific facts, said Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, PhD, during a conference delivered on Sunday at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization in Denver, Colorado.

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Thomism, Tradition, Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Catholic Dogma – A Must Read!

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In the pre-Vatican II Church, this tremendous solidity was reflected in all the various facets of Catholic worship and life. There was absolutely no doubt, for instance, that the traditional Latin Mass was wholly intent on worshipping the majesty of God and of accomplishing that filial submission of mind and heart of all those who assisted at Mass to the total sovereignty of God over all things human.
The Latin language, the direction the altar faced, the beauty of sacred vessels, statuary, stained-glass windows, all aspects of the architecture, and the sacred music – all these things spoke of worship centered upon the Infinite, Immutable Being of God. And, of course, the prayers of the Old Mass embodied this worship to the utmost.
The very fact that the priest and servers knelt at the foot of the steps and prayed Psalm 42 and the Confiteor before they dared ascend to the altar, profoundly revealed this basic orientation of our faith and worship.
The same may be said for all standard materials used to teach the Faith. Catechisms such as the Baltimore catechism in the U.S. or the Penny catechism in the UK were almost like small compendiums of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, deeply reflecting the principles of our faith found in the Summa Theologica of  St. Thomas.
All of this solidity largely disappeared after Vatican Council II. It was widely declared that Triumphalism was something that only belonged to the Pharisaical past, and that the path to the future lay in something called aggiornamento – which roughly translated means “openness to the world.” This, despite the fact that Holy Scripture issues a dire warning precisely against any such “openness” to, or friendship with, the world.
In the Epistle of St. James, we read: “Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever, therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).
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