Today’s Question: What is the main philosophy of Christianity?


Question:
What is the main philosophy of Christianity?

Answer: Redemption from perpetual slavery to Satan, sin and death, through the grace and merits of Jesus Christ, true man and true God.

JUNG REPLACES JESUS IN CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY

Walk into a typical Catholic bookstore and browse in the “spirituality” section, and you’ll see the best-selling books of such popularizers of the Jung Cult as priests Basil Pennington, Richard Rohr, and Thomas Keating.

Read the listings for “spirituality” programs and retreats in many diocesan newspapers. You will see that programs on Jungian dream analysis, discovering the child within, contacting your “god/goddess,” or similar such Jungian therapy programs predominate, even though they have nothing to do with Catholic spirituality and are inherently antithetical to it.

Forty years ago, the great Catholic psychiatrist Karl Stern in <The Third Revolution> (Harcourt Brace & Co.. 1954), wrote that most Catholic scholars recognized that Jung and Catholicism are incompatible-irreconcilable-and he warned that the Jungian who begins viewing religion as existing on the same plane as psychology ends up viewing all religions as equally irrelevant.

“As a German philosopher friend of mine once remarked with a pun,” wrote Stern, “<Das gleich Gultige wird gleichgutig> (that which is equally relevant becomes irrelevant). The curtain of the temple is conjured away with an elegant flourish. The border between nature and grace exists no longer, and no longer are you mortally engaged. Matters of the spirit are part of a noncommittal therapeutic method; Jacob no longer wrestles with the angel in a horrible grip which leaves him forever limping -instead, he takes his daily hour of gymnastics.”

In the years since, however, Catholic scholars, priests, religious, and laity have gone over to Jung with the fervor of Athenians flocking to the Oracle at Delphi.

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Related article

Wake Up America! Liberalism, Democracy and Unenlightened Capitalism.

LIBERALISM…
Liberalism, as a political philosophy (not party politics), is rooted in
Rationalism, that is to say, in the belief that human reason can attain
truth unaided by divine revelation. Since, according to its premises, human
reason can attain truth unaided, it follows naturally that man must be
free, that is, free to do what his reason tells him is right. Hence, the
birth of Liberalism. The concept of man’s reasonableness and freedom is
eminently Christian, but in a totally different sense, and this ambiguity,
which has always been cultivated by the enemies of God, has been
responsible for a great many evils.

DEMOCRACY and CAPITALISM…
The philosophy of Liberalism has given birth to a political system: Democracy; and to an economic system: Capitalism. In both systems, freedom of action and expression is the mainstay, and both rest on the private judgment of persons, not on considerations flowing from divine revelation.

It is not difficult to see, therefore, to what abuses these systems can lead: moral values are not considered. When they exist at all, it is merely as a legacy of Christian tradition, the complete disappearance of which is only a matter of time.

Once moral values have totally disappeared no limits will be set to the claims of man, nothing will restrain his craving for complete freedom: anarchy and bloodshed are the inevitable outcome. But, before we reach that final stage, laws are enacted which are increasingly permissive, since, according to the Liberalist creed, laws must reflect the will of the consensus.

Thus, evils such as divorce, abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality are made lawful. As early as 100 years ago, many thinkers forecast what we are now witnessing. But their warnings were unheeded, if not held up to ridicule, and modern man continued on his democratic path toward chaos and anarchy.

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Submitted by Bob Stanley

An interesting post on the rationality of evil

Dennis Prager , in this episode of his Prager University series of videos, takes on an ever popular heresy:  evil is irrational.  This heresy is popular for any number of reasons but doubtless it all boils down to the belief, completely unfounded in human experience, that reasonable people will agree on what is good and what is evil.  The experience of the last half century in the West should have knocked that bit of foolishness into a cocked hat.  Agreement on good and evil in practice is largely a matter of convention.   If the social norms of a people come under challenge, we quickly see apparently reasonable people disagreeing on such fundamental questions as whether an unborn child has a right to life, or whether sex outside of marriage is evil.

Concepts of good and evil are either based on revelation from God, or are matters of opinion to be argued about.  Fewer people in our society believe in revelation, hence good and evil become matters of opinion for debate.  When the debate is joined we often find that there is little agreement on goals and that therefore what is rational to each individual takes varying paths to differing goals.  Widespread disagreement on good and evil also causes the State to grow ever larger to enforce the version of good held by those in power in the State.

Text and video

A response to Hundreds of Proofs of God’s Existence by “Godless Geeks”

Hundreds of (not very good) Proofs of God’s Non-Existence

TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT
(1) If reason exists then God does not exist.
(2) Reason exists.
(3) Therefore, God does not exist.

COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(1) If I say something does not have a cause, it does not have a cause.
(2) I say the universe does not have a cause.
(3) Therefore, the universe does not have a cause.
(4) Therefore, God does not exist.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) I define God to be something inconceivably absurd.
(2) Since I cannot conceive of that, it must not exist.
(3) Therefore, God does not exist.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (II)
(1) St. Anselm has a proof for God’s existence.
(2) I look at the proof and laugh.
(3) I’m not quite sure how to disprove it.
(4) But I laugh at it all the same.
(5) Therefore, God does not exist.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (III)
(1) The Ontological Proof for God’s existence relies on the assumption
that existence is greater than non-existence.
(2) But existence is not greater than non-existence.
(3) Existence is the worst thing there is.
(4) Therefore, God does not exist.

MODAL ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
(1) God is either necessary or unnecessary.
(2) God is not necessary, therefore God must be unnecessary.
(3) If something is unnecessary, then, necessarily, it does not exist.
(4) Therefore, God does not exist.

Many more

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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“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

See this and other “zingers” from George Weigel

Unlikely story: An avowed atheist’s conversion.

creationcolor

For the first time in my life, I prayed, and said. “Dear God. There is no logical way you could possibly exist, and even if you appeared before me in the flesh, I would call it an hallucination. So I can think of no possible way, no matter what the evidence and no matter how clear it was, that you could prove your existence to me.

But the Christians claim you are benevolent, and that my failure to believe in you inevitably will damn me. If, as they claim, you care whether or not I am damned, and if, as they claim, you are all wise and all powerful, you can prove to me that you exist even though I am confident such a thing is logically impossible.

Thanking you in advance for your cooperation in this matter, John C. Wright.” — and then my mind was at rest. I had done all I needed to do honestly to maintain my stature as someone, not who claimed to be logical, objective and openminded, but who was logical, objective, and openminded.

Three days later, with no warning, I had a heart attack, and was lying on the floor, screaming and dying.

-Then I was saved from certain death by faith-healing, after which–

-I felt the Holy Spirit enter my body, after which–

-became immediately aware of my soul, a part of myself which, until that time, I reasoned and thought did not exist-

-I was visited by the Virgin Mary, her son, and His Father-

-not to mention various other spirits and ghosts over a period of several days–

-including periods of divine ecstasy, and an awareness of the mystical oneness of the universe-

-And a week or so after that I had a religious experience where I entered the mind of God and saw the indescribable simplicity and complexity, love, humor and majesty of His thought, and I understood the joy beyond understanding and comprehended the underlying unity of all things, and the paradox of determinism and free will was made clear to me, as was the symphonic nature of prophecy. I was shown the structure of time and space.

-And then Christ in a vision told me that He would be my judge, and that God judges no man. I mentioned this event to my wife. Then about a month later, when I was reading the Bible for the first time beyond the unavoidable minimum assigned in school, I came across the passage in the book of John, a passage I had never seen before, and to which no Christian in my hearing had ever made reference, which said the same thing in the same words.

-And then I have had perhaps a dozen or two dozen prayers miraculously answered, so much so that I now regard it as a normal routine rather than some extraordinary act of faith.

So I would say my snide little prayer was answered with much more than I had asked, and I was given not just evidence, and not just overwhelming evidence, but joy unspeakable and life eternal.

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Verses about divine judgment from the Gospel of St. John:

(John 3:17) For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world: but that the world may be saved by him.

(John 5:22) For neither does the Father judge any man: but hath given all judgment to the Son.

(John 5:30) I cannot of myself do any thing. As I hear, so I judge. And my judgment is just: because I seek not my own will. but the will of him that sent me.

(John 7:24) Judge not according to the appearance: but judge just judgment.

(John 7:51) Doth our law judge any man, unless it first hear him and know what he doth?

(John 8:15) You judge according to the flesh: I judge not any man.

(John 8:16) And if I do judge, my judgment is true: because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

(John 8:26) Many things I have to speak and to judge of you. But he that sent me, is true: and the things I have heard of him, these same I speak in the world.

(John 12:47) And if any man hear my words and keep them not, I do not judge him for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

(John 12:48) He that despiseth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

A study in differences: The state of the Catholic Church – and the world – before Vatican II – and after.

Before Vatican II:

Faith, reason, and grace-giving sacraments … in addition to almost 2,000 years of Catholic tradition, philosophy and scholarship … served to assist Catholics in making rational and morally upright life decisions … for their own sake, for the glory of God, for the good of the Catholic Church, and for the common good of all mankind.

After Vatican II:

Change has come to the Catholic Church. Virtually all that came before is now irrelevant.

Personal conscience … enlightened by modern secular thought … is king.

A disoriented/disordered Magisterium fails to provide a suitable and practical replacement for that which they permitted to be summarily discarded.

Many Catholics no longer have a sound basis for making rational and morally upright life decisions. Ditto for the rest of the world. Corruption abounds … in the Church … and at every level of society. The earth rapidly descends into chaos.

Welcome to the Brave New World!   

Editor’s note: There are some signs of a turn-around. Where there is grace … there is hope!

“How can you join a church that tells you how to think?”

But Peter said to them: Do penance: and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.

And with very many other words did he testify and exhort them, saying: Save yourselves from this perverse generation. They therefore that received his word were baptized: and there were added in that day about three thousand souls. And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles and in the communication of the breaking of bread and in prayers. (Acts 2:38-42)

Question: “How can you join a church that tells you how to think?”

Answer: “With extreme gratitude and humility,
while constantly praising and giving thanks to God!”

Read one author’s “take” on it

Editor’s note: This is like asking someone who wants to learn how to safely pilot airplanes, “Why would you go to a flight school that tells you how to fly?”

The short answer is of course, “Because my life (or in the case of the Catholic Church, my eternal salvation) depends upon it … dummy!”

Seen on the web: Why is Christianity the correct religion? Please do not quote the Bible.

Q: Why is Christianity the correct religion? Please do not quote the Bible.

Response by Doug Lawrence:

A: There is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than virtually any other historical figure who ever lived. The very calendar we use today is based on the approximate year of his birth, and it will end on the very day Jesus chooses to return.

Jesus Christ claimed to be God, and he proved the truth of his claim in many and various ways.

Jesus Christ accomplished what the Hebrew scriptures (not necessarily what the Hebrews themselves) predicted he would accomplish. This includes various types of miracles, and many other events and particular works that were predicted (in writing) from 200 to 6000 years, in advance.

Jesus Christ stated that he would allow himself to be put to death and he would rise again, three days hence. He did just that, in the presence of many eye-witnesses, some of whom were his enemies.

In the 40 day period between his resurrection and his ascension, Jesus was seen by some 500 eye witnesses. Many of these same witnesses preferred to die, rather than deny what/who they had seen.

Many details of Jesus’ earthly life and times were initially faithfully preserved by those who actually knew him, as well as his own family. Later, these factual accounts were reduced to writing. In both instances, people who knew Jesus Christ and the particular details of his life, his death and his resurrection were still alive and available to confirm or deny the truth of the accounts.

This process is the way genuine world history has always been recorded and preserved. It’s how we know about Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, George Washington, and every other historical figure who ever lived.

The government of the United States of America has preserved the history pertaining to George Washington, over a period of the last 230 years. George Washington’s descendants along with various other world governments confirm those historical claims.

The Catholic Church, which was personally founded by Jesus Christ, while he still walked the earth, has been the living eye witness to Jesus Christ, for the last 2000 years. The Catholic Church also constitutes the oldest, longest reigning, continuous government on earth, ante-ceding every existing world system in existence today.

The history of the Catholic Church and the history of those governments confirm both the existence of Jesus Christ as a real historical person, and the unique establishment, growth, universality, hierarchical leadership and holiness of the only Christian Church that Jesus Christ ever founded, for the purpose of our salvation.

As a rational person, you must realize that the existence of the historical Jesus Christ cannot be truthfully denied.

As a human being, who is posited to have an immortal soul, subject to divine judgment, you must study all the historical evidence, all the theology, and all the related philosophy, in order to come to a valid personal conclusion as to whether or not Jesus Christ is the divine person he claimed to be.

At that point, a modicum of faith (faith enlightened by reason … not blind faith) will be required, simply because you will no longer be dealing with the purely natural, but also the supernatural and the infinite, since that is part and parcel of the realm of the eternal, almighty God.

Enlightened by the facts and illuminated by the huge body of authentic systematic Catholic theology and related philosophy, any required “leap” of faith is not nearly as far as many people might think.

Good luck and God speed!

Much more “deep background” on this here

Also investigate these various links

The Church Jesus founded is also a great gift to the world

The spirit of Catholic charity — that we help those in need not out of any expectation of reciprocity, but as a pure gift, and that we even help those who might not like us — finds no analogue in classical Greece and Rome, but it is this idea of charity that we continue to embrace today.

The university was an utterly new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations, and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, come to us directly from the medieval world.

By the time of the Reformation, no secular government had chartered more universities than the church. Edward Grant, who has written on medieval science for Cambridge University Press, points out that intellectual life was robust and debate was vigorous at these universities — the very opposite of the popular presumption.

It is no surprise that the church should have done so much to foster and protect the nascent university system, since the church, according to historian Lowrie Daly, “was the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge.”

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Stephen Hawking’s dark and dangerous philosophical assumptions

Smarts in one area doesn’t make him an expert in all areas. Perhaps CBS News would like to interview me on string theory? Of course Mr Hawking and many others might object that I wasn’t exactly the best “go-to guy” on this topic. And that would be true. Asking Mr. Hawking to opine on heavenly matters and the psychological makeup of believers is in the same vein as trotting out Hollywood stars to testify before congress as “experts” on global warming, or some other highly technical matter. Mr Hawking’s opinion on believers or the afterlife is of no more value than anyone else. He is entitled to his opinions on this matter, but it doesn’t deserve to be in headlines and is no more true because he is smart in other areas.

Further, I hope you will note a VERY DARK philosophical assumption he makes at the end of the article. Beware, for he is an influential man.

Read more of Msgr. Pope’s article

Philosophy for Dummies

My approach to teaching philosophy focuses on the consequences of ideas, rather than just the ideas themselves. Today’s students are of a mindset that actions have consequences and only then, if you get caught. A connection needs to be re-established between the actions and the ideas that precede them.

For example, if your idea of a good time is to get together with friends and get as drunk as possible, then your actions will follow that idea. You will purchase a large amount of alcohol, get together at someone’s house or cottage and then proceed to drink a great deal – usually by playing drinking games. This leads, of course, to other more serious consequences. Change your idea of a good time and your actions will change also.

Now, I don’t tell students this right away. When I begin teaching a new semester I introduce the topic that “Ideas have Consequences” and proceed to ask questions right away. Teenagers, generally speaking, tend to suffer from overconfidence in their understanding of life. That’s a nice way of saying they think they know it all. Since none of us do know it all, I immediately try to dispel them of that fantasy. It goes something like this.

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While the general outlines of natural law are clear to the honest thinker, original sin tends to make us fuzzy about the details

Natural law is the moral code any rational person can deduce purely from reason. It is the “law written upon the human heart,” to which we can hold anyone, Christian or pagan. Consequently, in a state without an official church — in a place like America — natural law arguments are the appropriate ones to make to our fellow citizens. . . . It’s ironic that natural law is meant to be the language we use when speaking to non-believers, since it seems that nowadays only Catholics really believe in natural law — or that those who accept the latter end up becoming the former.

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Submitted by Doria2

A Philosophical Study On Contraception and Chastity – Circa 1972

Roman Catholic thinker (the late) Elizabeth Anscombe reflects on the theological implications of contraception and chastity.

This is a penetrating moral analysis of marriage and sexuality that will benefit any reader who rejects the secularist reduction of marriage as merely a union that sanctions sexual activity between partners.

Short excerpt:

Christianity was at odds with the heathen world, not only about fornication, infanticide and idolatry; but also about marriage. Christians were taught that husband and wife had equal rights in one another’s bodies; a wife is wronged by her husband’s adultery as well as a husband by his wife’s. And Christianity involved non-acceptance of the contemptible role of the female partner in fornication, calling the prostitute to repentance and repudiating respectable concubinage. And finally for Christians divorce was excluded. These differences were the measure, great enough, of the separation between Christianity and the pagan world in these matters. By now, Christian teaching is, of course, known all over the world; and it goes without saying for those in the West that what they call “accepting traditional morals” means counting fornication as wrong – it’s just not a respectable thing. But we ought to be conscious that, like the objection to infanticide, this is a Jewish Christian inheritance. And we should realize that heathen humanity tends to have a different attitude towards both. In Christian teaching a value is set on every human life and on men’s chastity as well as on women’s and this as part of the ordinary calling of a Christian, not just in connection with the austerity of monks. Faithfulness, by which a man turned only to his spouse, forswearing all other women, was counted as one of the great goods of marriage.

But the quarrel is far greater between Christianity and the present-day heathen, post Christian, morality that has sprung up as a result of contraception. In one word: Christianity taught that men ought to be as chaste as pagans thought honest women ought to be; the contraceptive morality teaches that women need to be as little chaste as pagans thought men need be.

And if there is nothing intrinsically wrong with contraceptive intercourse, and if it could become general practice everywhere when there is intercourse but ought to be no begetting, then it’s very difficult to see the objection to this morality, for the ground of objection to fornication and adultery was that sexual intercourse is only right in the sort of set-up that typically provides children with a father and mother to care for them. If you can turn intercourse into something other than the reproductive type of act (I don’t mean of course that every act is reproductive any more than every acorn leads to an oak-tree but it’s the reproductive type of act) then why, if you can change it, should it be restricted to the married? Restricted, that is, to partners bound in a formal, legal, union whose fundamental purpose is the bringing up of children? For if that is not its fundamental purpose there is no reason why for example “marriage” should have to be between people of opposite sexes. But then, of course, it becomes unclear why you should have a ceremony, why you should have a formality at all. And so we must grant that children are in this general way the main point of the existence of such an arrangement. But if sexual union can be deliberately and totally divorced from fertility, then we may wonder why sexual union has got to be married union. If the expression of love between the partners is the point, then it shouldn’t be so narrowly confined.

The only objection, then, to the new heathen, contraceptive morality will be that the second condition I mentioned – near-universality of contraception where there ought not to be begetting – simply won’t be fulfilled. Against the background of a society with that morality, more and more people will have intercourse with little feeling of responsibility, little restraint, and yet they just won’t be so careful about always using contraceptives. And so the widespread use of contraceptives naturally leads to more and more rather than less and less abortion (The exception to this in the short term is where abortion has been encouraged and contraceptives not available, making contraceptives available then produces an immediate but only temporary reduction in abortions.) Indeed, abortion is now being recommended as a population control measure – a second line of defense.

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Editor’s note: This great work, along with Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae ought to be required reading for Catholics … married or single … young or old … gay or straight.

Was Humanae Vitae Prophetic? A look at 40 year old message.

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

This Week’s Ask Alice: Confusion about communal penance services, and a philosophical question about the soul and spirit.

Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Helen K. asks: If you attend a communal penance service does this absolve you from sins both venial and mortal, or do you still need to go to confession, one-on-one with a priest? I am confused on this matter.

Alice replies: A communal penance service is no substitute for the sacrament of Penance. Absolution for a mortal sin can ONLY be obtained when a penitent confesses his/her sin individually to a priest.

Sin separates us from God. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our relationship with our Heavenly Father is fully restored. Since Penance is a sacrament, the person who goes to confession receives pardon for every mortal and venial sin as well as a wealth of graces. The purpose of a Communal Penance service is to prepare the Faithful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why should I settle for a Communal Penance Service and pass up the treasury of healing graces that the Lord longs to shower upon me in the Confessional?

It is recommended that Catholics receive the Sacrament of Penance once a month. Although I have committed no mortal sins, going to confession refreshes my soul. Confessing my sins to a priest (who represents Jesus) helps me to clean out the junk that accumulates in my soul. A monthly soul cleaning, keeps me spiritually strong and focused, patient and loving. When God forgives me, His grace fortifies me to forgive others. For me going to Confession is like taking vitamins. God’s gracious mercy pumps me up when I am weak and stumbling.

A communal penance service, general confession and general absolution can suffice only in case of dire necessity, such as imminent danger of death without adequate time for a priest(s) to hear each person’s confession. Or if there are not enough priests available to hear each person’s confession in a reasonable time. In this instance, the individual must have the intention of confessing his/her sins as soon as possible. The bishop of the diocese typically decides whether or not the conditions needed for general absolution exist.

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Peggy G. Asks:

We have been discussing Soren Kierkegaard’s philosophy of the soul in theology, how we are not souls and that we have this ability to bring our souls into existence by the choices we make. So, here I am pondering about it at 2 a.m.

I have always believed that God gives us our soul from the time of conception. As Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathes into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Without God’s breath, man would only exist in the physical form and we would all be robots. The breathing individual is alive, living and full of LIFE. I believe that the soul is a little piece of God within us. I have believed that the soul is an inner, vital, and spiritual principle which is capable of existence apart from the body. The freedom to make our own decisions has everything to do with free will, not with the existence of our souls or bringing our souls into existence like Kierkegaard believed, for they already exist prior to our ability to decide for ourselves. I do believe our choices here on this plane of existence will affect what is going to happen to our souls at the end of our existence.

So here are my questions…just because I am curious….

What is a soul?

What compromises the spirit within someone? Is that spirit within us the same as The Holy Spirit?

Are our souls and spirits connected?

Can we alter the soul that was given to us by God through our choices?

Does God judge our soul on judgment day, or does he judge our deeds? Is it possible to judge our deeds without looking upon our souls?

Alice replies:

Your reflections on the theology of the soul are spiritually insightful.

Every human being is created in the image of God. Our soul is the essence of our being. It is spiritual, immortal and will be united with our resurrected body in Heaven. Although the Catholic church uses the words, “soul” and “spirit,” interchangeably, St. Paul refers to “body”, “soul,” and “spirit” separately. Theologians contend that his comments were Trinitarian (spirit-Holy Spirit, soul-Father, and body-Son) in nature.

The Holy Spirit indwells every baptized person.

The state of our soul can be altered through serious sins. “Do not fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10″28) Mortal sin endangers the state of our soul. God will judge the state of our soul when we face Him at our particular judgment day. God does not condemn people to hell. We choose where we will spend eternity. Even the worst sinner has an opportunity to repent and beg for God’s Divine Mercy when he/she dies. The only people in hell are those who choose to refuse His mercy.

Since Soren Kierkegaard is considered the father of the existentialist movement, theologians such as St. Augustine present the soul from a Catholic point of view. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” is a sound source that clarifies soul questions. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about the soul and spirit in, “Summa Theologica.”

Hope these ideas provide a bit of inspiration for future 2 a.m. discussions.

Doug Lawrence adds: You’re supposed to ponder this stuff, until it drives you nuts (just like Kierkegaard, with his multiple personas.) It drives me nuts just trying to remember how many a’s are in his name!

Anyway, here goes:

Q: What is a soul?

A: The soul is the receptacle of our human intellect … the “home” of our spirit (and our rational self.) Together with our body, these three (body/soul/spirit) constitute the essence of our eternal, human “person hood”.

Q: What comprises the spirit within someone? Is that spirit within us the same as The Holy Spirit?

A: The spirit is the personal, rational essence which animates the human soul and gives us our distinct, identifiable personality.

The Holy Spirit is God. God’s “essence” is pure spirit and divine, while our essence is human and intended to be composite … consisting (ideally) of body, soul and spirit.

It should be noted that Jesus’ divine essence always existed, as a pure spirit … in the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity.

When he became man, Jesus also “took on” a human body, complete with a human soul, all of which will continue to endure into eternity, as a permanent aspect of his divine person hood. (Also a composite, but as God … with a divine spirit … plus human body … plus human soul.)

Taking on flesh to become man, Jesus never ceased to be God, nor did he become some sort of an amalgamated “mixture”.

Jesus remains true God and true man … and that is suitably demonstrated by the fact that he forever retains: 1) his eternal, divine spirit; 2) his eternal, human soul; 3) and (since the resurrection) his glorified, transformed, eternal and incorruptible human body.

So, under the proper circumstances, the two different essences can and do co-exist.

In particular, at baptism, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the human soul, and we become temples of the Holy Spirit.

This begins the process of actual spiritual transformation (theosis) which should (eventually) lead us to become like God (although still fully human).

Q: Are our souls and spirits connected?

A: Yes. Just like your body and your brain are connected.

Q: Can we alter the soul that was given to us by God through our choices?

A: God’s grace and his actual presence in the soul (or the lack of it) determines the state of the soul … and whether it will be pleasing and acceptable to God and worthy of/compatible with heaven.

God does not hang around in our soul when we choose to do seriously evil stuff. That’s why mortal sin leaves the soul in danger of hell.

The most practical aspect of this:

God is love. Love is just another name for charity. Anyone who departs this earthly existence with at least a modicum of charity remaining in their soul is not likely to see eternal damnation (although we would expect a whole lot of remedial work to be necessary for those who just “squeak” by.) Alternatively … Mary … full of grace … now in heaven … complete with her spotless soul, forever untainted by sin of any kind … along with with her (already) transformed and glorified human body … practically runs the place! (By the grace of God, of course.)

Q: Does God judge our soul on judgment day, or does he judge our deeds? Is it possible to judge our deeds without looking upon our souls?

A: See the preceding answer regarding God, love, charity, and eternal damnation/reward.

This may not all match up with what is being covered in your philosophy class, but that’s the way philosophy works.

Philosophy is the search for truth, while Jesus IS the truth, and the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church faithfully reflect that truth.

Archbishop reiterates that parents are primary educators of children

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 1, 2010 / 12:04 pm (CNA).- This week the president of the Argentinean Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education, Archbishop Hector Aguer, reminded parents that they cannot renounce their responsibility for both the moral and religious education of their children. It is in the home, he emphasized, where children must learn the faith.

“The role of the family must never be slighted, and this is something in today’s culture … that we must diligently look after, because without the role of the family, education is not complete,” the archbishop said.

He also recalled that parents cannot leave the education of their children completely in the hands of the schools, adding, “It is essential that parents are involved in educational process.”

For this reason, Archbishop Aguer warned against some government educational programs that do not respect the moral, religious and philosophical convictions of families.

Liberalism: the Substitute for Thought and Religion.

Ignorance of religion and the classics…constituting bad education from the multi-versities which were founded to set it right…has built up in this country a vapid liberalism of relativistic precepts…a liberalism that has polluted the wellsprings of much of contemporary journalism. It is not only that many of the liberal journalists of today have abandoned religious verities for the shifting sands of uncertainty that run through their commentaries.

It is that the teachings of the elders of philosophy are not known as well.  Aristotle’s Politics begins with a division of what the great sage saw as varied governments.  Reviewing them we find it very refreshing in view of what we have in this country…or what we have allowed to transgress this country.
He says: There is a six-fold collection of governments. Now hold on to your seats. If one person rules for the common good, it is called kingly rule.

If one person rules for his own self-aggrandizement and cares not what happens to the country, it is called tyranny.
If few rule for the true common good, it is called an aristocracy.
If few rule for their own advantage it is called an oligarchy.

Listen now:
If many rule for the sake of the true common good, it is called a polity.
And if a majority rules for the sake of their own selfish aggrandizement, it is called a democracy.
Aristotle takes the view that a majority can be as foolish, insensitive or tyrannical as any tyrant or oligarch.  I think that is what we have here today.

Therefore he concludes  that unalloyed democracy is a perversion.
Read more at Tom Roeser’s blog