Why So Many Are Leaving the Church: The Faith and Reason Problem

Yet another study confirms the hemorrhaging taking place inside the Church in the West. People are leaving the Faith in droves. A good many are leaving for agnosticism, atheism, or the often used, nones category. Much of what drives these individuals to leave en masse is our failure to explain coherently and concisely the relationship between faith and reason in the face of widespread criticism in the culture.

The Western world is dominated by secular education where children are taught principles, ideas, and a worldview that is often hostile to the Catholic Faith. The West has been engaged in a battle between faith and reason for the last 500 years. First, far too many splitting from the Catholic Church abandoned reason altogether believing it to be a broken ability in Fallen men. Second, this led to the inevitable split on the side of reason as philosophy and science embarked on the path of proving that a rationalist-materialist worldview is the only one worth having. Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI devoted great volumes of work to bridging the chasm created between faith and reason. The problem now: We are ignoring the Church’s resources at our own peril.

It is very difficult for a child to parse the nuances of their faith from what they are taught in the classroom, especially at times of tremendous peer pressure and intellectual confusion. Since public education is the primary source of education for those families who cannot afford Catholic education or who cannot, or choose not, to homeschool, there must be a way to reach children from an early age in order to teach them that faith and reason work harmoniously together. They are not in opposition, they are complementary. Each works for the other, but since faith is supernatural, it elevates and heightens reason to unachievable heights it could never reach without grace.

Parents, teens, college students, and all members of the laity really need to examine the relationship between faith and reason closely in order to understand the battles being waged in our culture. We are often marginalized and dismissed precisely because the culture does not understand the authentic natures of faith and reason, either individually or as they work together, and we do not provide clear responses.

Saint John Paul II sought to clarify and elucidate on the Church’s brilliant teaching on faith and reason in his incredible encyclical Fides et Ratio. It is truly a gift for our times. The understanding of faith was furthered in Pope Emeritus Benedict’s undertaking of his last encyclical, which was finished by Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei. We have resources. We have answers to the questions or attacks made against our Faith, we only have to use them and share them with our children. If we do not, then they will fall for the errors of our times and leave the Faith all together. Children are not coming back in later years as was the case in previous times. Secular college campuses seem to be a place where the faith of many goes to die. Much of this is because that faith was not nurtured or aided by the gift of reason, properly ordered.

What is faith?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines faith in paragraph 155 as: “In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace: “Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moving by God through grace.”  God reveals Himself to us through the gift of grace and we choose to accept this truth and His invitation through a free act of our wills. Faith is a supernatural gift from God. It is not something we can attain through our own power. Then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in his book, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, provides the succinct definition that faith is “thinking with assent”. That is, faith is a journey in which we continually answer God’s call in our own lives and continue to accept the truths only He can reveal, whether it be through Scripture, Sacred Tradition, or the Magisterium. Faith is not static or stagnant. It is constantly in motion as it transforms each one of us and deepens our communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

What is reason?

Reason is our ability to gain knowledge through “sense perception and experiences and which advances by the light of the intellect alone” (Fides et Ratio 9). The things of the universe that can be known through our five senses and our experiences sum up reason. It is how Aristotle came to see order and harmony in the world, through observation and reflection. It is reason that allows us to pursue scientific advances, create new technologies, and to plant glorious gardens. Reason deepens our understanding of the world around us and the universe.

Reason in fact is not asked to pass judgment on the contents of faith, something of which it would be incapable, since this is not its function. Its function is rather to find meaning, to discover explanations which might allow everyone to come to a certain understanding of the contents of faith.

Ibid 42

How do faith and reason work together?

Regardless of the war being raged within our culture, faith and reason are meant to work together. They are two halves of human experiences. Faith supersedes reason because it can move beyond the senses into the supernatural, but faith needs reason to grow in deeper understanding of who God is and the purpose of our lives. Saint John Paul II states:

There exists a twofold order of knowledge, distinct not only as regards their source, but also as regards their object. With regard to the source, because we know in one by natural reason, in the other by divine faith. With regard to the object, because besides those things which natural reason can attain, there are proposed for our belief mysteries hidden in God which, unless they are divinely revealed, cannot be known.

Fides et Ratio 9

There are things in this world which cannot be known through reason. God has to reveal them to us. This is most realized in Jesus Christ who came to reveal God fully to us.

Faith asks that its object be understood with the help of reason, and at the summit of its searching reason acknowledges that it cannot do without what faith presents.

Ibid 42

The dangers of reason alone.

Without faith, reason often falls short and becomes disordered without the Source, who is God, at the center of the pursuit of truth. Faith must aid reason. We see these errors often in the rather arrogant claims of members of the New Atheism such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. They have chosen to worship reason and abandoned the true ordering and reality of the universe, while painting people like us as buffoons. Saint John Paul II warns of this danger:

…if reason were to be fully true to itself, then it must respect certain basic rules. The first of these is that reason must realize that human knowledge is a journey which allow no rest; the second stems from the awareness that such a path is not for the proud who think that everything is the fruit of personal conquest; a third rule is grounded in the “fear of God” whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize. In abandoning these rules, the human being runs the risk of failure and ends up in the condition of “the fool.”

Ibid 18

The answer is the harmony of faith and reason.

In order to avoid becoming “fools” ourselves and to respond to a culture that greatly misunderstands what the Catholic Church teaches on faith and reason, we must use the two in harmony. Our children must be taught early on that faith and reason are both tremendous gifts with the same purpose: The pursuit of truth which is the Triune God.

Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.

Ibid 16

Our children take an onslaught from our culture and we do them no favors when we ourselves do not know what the Church teaches or provide them with the resources to guide them on the journey. It is the parents’ obligation to teach the faith. We are the primary catechists. Catechism classes at church provide a small amount of guidance. Our children cannot possibly learn the faith from a one-hour class once a week. We must be living and teaching the faith in our homes. If we don’t know the answer to something, then we must look for it, or seek out guidance from clergy and laity who do know the answers. The Church provides all of the resources we need and places them at our fingertips from the Catechism to the Vatican website to copious books written by theologians and philosophers expounding on orthodox Church teaching. We have all of the resources we need in Holy Mother Church. We only have to seek them out, so that we can help stop the hemorrhaging. So we can, by God’s grace, help our children remain faithful Catholics into adulthood.

Many children face atheism through their science teachers, and yet, many Catholic children and their parents do not realize that the Church fosters, and is responsible, for the development of the natural sciences. A good example is Fr. Georges LeMaitre who discovered the “Big Bang” theory when Albert Einstein overlooked an element of his own theory. Yes, a Catholic priest is responsible for the Big Bang Theory. Next week, I will take a closer look at the Church’s relationship and views of science.

By

Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate student theologian with an emphasis in philosophy.  Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths (www.swimmingthedepths.com).

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  • Randy Wanat

    So, you have a problem with children applying critical thinking skills to your religious beliefs in the same way you would apply them to someone else’s?

  • Cindy Trainque

    All of these great encyclicals and other papal writings must be re-written to the level of our students. If these documents can be made available in Spanish, French, Tagalog, Japanese and many other languages then they can be written in easier to understand language. No amount of lesson plans — however good they may be — can help if the original document is not understandable. What teacher would expect a 4th-grader to have a grasp on War and Peace with just good lesson plans? Or a French teacher who expects French I students to read literature meant for the French IV student? No…put forth a version for students on these things that are so vital. Get public high schools and Catholic schools return to teaching Latin, Greek, Logic, etc. I have 7-year-old cousins (triplets) who live down south and are going to a Greek-speaking charter school…they are flourishing because even at age 7 they are learning critical thinking skills — in two languages!

  • Deacon Toby

    Where the rubber meets the road, parents bring children for baptism, they are supposed to raise them in the faith, they don’t know the faith. God parents stand at the font and profess assistance they know even less. Am I painting with to broad a brush? It’s expected CCD classes takes care of the other side of the equation GHEEZ more homework! Parents actually drop kids off or sit in the car rather than attend mass while CCD class is going on. The clock watchers, how long you preaching today Deac? Remember it’s game day! Reading the bulletin or Catholic paper before mass starts are we…at times the pre mass chatter is deafening the pastor speaks to the issue, 2 weeks later…I’m blessed to be able to assist at the old rite as well as the new rite (keeping it simple) and the attitudinal difference is really striking. There is a simplistic reverence in demeanor, dress, piety, and the masses tend to be crowed, in the ‘old rite.’ When I think of a remnant church it’s a no brainer. I love the pontificating but I’ll take the sandals or the Stetsons. Can’t we have a real reality check here???? That is a serious question…when our faith looses over 3 million faithful in 9 years and continues to hemorrhage the problem is beyond Huston. I’m not sure what’s going on under those ‘beanies’ but I’m not holding my breath for episcopal consensus.

  • carl641

    I read articles with this point frequently. The point is basically we need to do a better job of educating the children in the faith. While I don’t disagree that’s true, I don’t think that’s the main reason the young and others leave the church. It’s not an intellectual faith, it’s not a ritual, read magical, weekly performance, it’s a lived way of being in relationship with God that manifests itself in ones life plainly so all can see it. It’s no accident it was called ‘the way’ in the earliest days of the church. Children and the youth and mankind in general have x-ray vision for understanding when that’s not the case. They sense instinctively that that is what things are supposed to be about, and when they don’t see it they leave after awhile.

  • Cody

    Are you open to critical thinking upon your life positions? How about that bearded woman nursing her child in the Time Magazine article? And where does your presumption that anyone should care come from?

  • From. Dan Hesko

    We teach the Doctrine of evolution to children and they grow following it to its illogical conclusions. We need to defend Biblical Christianity by teaching the truth and exposing the lie of evolution. Young adults are coming and looking for something to hold on to, we must have clear answers.
    Rev. Daniel Hesko
    Middletown, NJ J

  • Randy Wanat

    Attitude and emotion without meaningful content is of no discernible value.

  • Pete

    Your article is very well written . What amazes me is most people when you ask him if they believe that they have a soul would answer in the affirmative. And they would also agree that the soul is of a divine nature meaning that they believe in God.

    So in reality very few people are atheists.

    So if we have a soul and it comes from God what are we to do about it , and what does it mean, and why did God put me here? Sometimes we need to help people find the answers which basically is to seek the truth. This is one of the core requirements of being a Christian whethet Catholic or not, i.e. to spread the gospel.

    If many Catholics are leaving the church we need to engage them head on in our daily lives. And not just by what we say but how we live the gospel in our lives.

    Starting with one’s children and other family members is a great way to begin.

  • Cody

    So your answer is no, that you don’t know where your presumption of care comes from. Nor are you aren’t willing to endure critical thinking addressed to your life positions.

  • donna

    inadequate explanations of theodicy and eternal damnation. end of discussion. If you talk about this with any person who has left faith these are always the reasons. It does not “seem” rational to them and we do not have theologians capable of making a understandable explanation.

  • Randy Wanat

    Sorry, but your questions are in no way related to what I said. And, your questions are only barely coherent. Pick a topic, preferably directly related to either the story or my post, and say something about it. Your disjointed non sequiturs are not something anybody can respond meaningfully to.

  • John00

    First, it takes strength and courage to be a Christian. Today’s snowflakes have had everything handed to them on a silver platter and have no concept of what strength or courage are. Once they leave the nurturing confines of home, they end up in higher education which issues all of its trigger warnings and safe spaces, and once again there is no need of strength or courage.

    Then they enter the real world, and find out that their government will attend to their every need. Things tough at work, file a complaint. Don’t make enough money, go and complain and your every wish will be granted.

    Finally, the Church has devolved to such a state that the “jello” magisterium is now making sure that no one’s feelings are hurt by having to suffer unnecessary consequences for their actions. So you’re divorced and remarried and want to go to communion–sure why not, otherwise you will suffer the consequences of your actions. And you’ve never had to do that before so why should the mean old Church treat you so ugly.

    Until the Church and its modernistic, hedonistic leaders return to the message of Christ, perhaps the Church is leaving the flock, and not vice versa.

  • Constance

    Humani Generis provides clarification on evolution. I will cover it next week. Evolution has not been entirely dismissed by the Church, but any evolution of the soul has been condemned. There is a balance between science and faith that the Church understands well.

  • Cody

    My statements were perfectly clear and bear directly on the subject of the article, the importance of grace in reason and the terrifying results of reason or logic without grace. You presume care, but it is not a presumption, it is something else. Now explain where it comes from or admit you don’t know. Admit you are not willing to put your life positions to some critical thinking. Again you evaded the question. Could it be your life positions are anti-life positions?

  • Constance

    Have you read the documents? While they may need to be brought down to the level of children at a young age there is no reason why a high school student couldn’t read them.

  • Constance

    While relationship may be the center, it is not relationship that will enable coherent answers in the face of the New Atheism. We can love Jesus completely, but we must be able to articulate our faith in a world with opposing viewpoints, many of which are intellectual and intelligent enough to pull people away.

    Of course a firm relationship with the Triune God is foundational but in the end we must be able to account for our faith and that means knowing how to respond to rationalism and materialism. The Church balances faith and reason and tells us to use both.

  • Constance

    We largely suffer from self-inflicted wounds….

  • Constance

    Randy, since you didn’t even read the piece, there is no need to respond to your question.

  • Constance

    I apologize but I have missed your point entirely. What does it have to do with the Church’s very clear teachings on faith and reason and how the two working together answer the “rational” problem? Fides et Ratio is a long document. I recommend reading it since I could barely do justice to it in 1500 words.

  • Constance

    So are we just supposed to throw up our hands? The orthodox answers are available if we seek them out and if we choose to strive for holiness in our own lives. The hierarchical Church has always been full of sinful men and yet she endures. The Church is in the same state today as she’s always been throughout her history. The heresies are just hedonistic in nature these days and not Christological or ecclesial.

  • donna

    my point is very few people operate from reason at all and the justification for their atheism or leaving the Church has to do with their inability to rationalize theodicy and eternal damnation. One cannot reason someone out of a position they did not use reason to arrive at.

  • Constance

    As I stated the gift of faith is a supernatural one that we must choose to accept. We also have to make a decision about the historical person of Jesus Christ. As C.S. Lewis put it well, we must decide if he was a madman, evil, or the Son of God. There is no in between. There is no he was a good teacher. He didn’t leave that open as an option. Reason can be used in deciphering the historical person of Jesus as someone who lived, but it takes faith to accept what He said. Oftentimes faith was not nurtured in childhood and it withers in the face of intelligent arguments by those of other belief systems. Faith is not irrational once it is rightly understood.

    It seems to me that our experiences with atheism are vastly different and the study in question confirms my own experiences. All of my atheist friends have used science or “rationalism” as their justifications and said very little of Hell, but they have never studied what the Church teaches on the use of reason and faith together. They are also not interested in the notion of good and evil. They are superfluous to their position and they are not even concerned with being “good” people per say. I was responding in this piece to a study that gave the exact same findings that many leave due to scientific or philosophical positions in the culture.

    Like I said, read the document in its entirety. You seem to be missing the connection between faith and reason and how the two work together. They cannot be divorced from one another. You cannot base all of Church teaching on this matter on one article written by a graduate student. Most don’t ever take the time to truly figure out what the Church teaches before they leave. This may be sloth or apathy, but no matter what, very few atheists even have an inkling of the Church’s real teaching. I miss the days of honest atheists like Russell and even Nietzsche was occasionally right. Today’s atheists are intellectually lazy, quite frankly.

  • Constance

    I fear far too many have never known why they were in the Church to begin with. Far too many have been sacramentalized through a conveyor belt style system and never learned true charity towards the Most Holy Trinity. That is a failure at all levels and one that must also be addressed.

    Catechesis and living of the Faith begins in the family. That is what the Church teaches, but the family needs to be reminded of this fact and then shown the resources needed to live it. In reading responses to an article like this, I think Catholics are largely outgunned in the culture. They are not prepared for the complex philosophies that pervade our culture and they have too simplistic of responses or responses that will only be understood within the Church.

    “Sin is the problem, the Mass is the problem, disobedience is the problem”…Those are all fine and good (does anyone within the Church doubt our Fallen nature is not a problem?!), but how does that help our children respond to their Philosophy or Science professors in college? They will scoff and once again paint us as simpletons. That isn’t even Catholicism. We have the breadth and depth needed to respond, but we aren’t doing it, to our own detriment. Pious answers won’t fly in the face of rationalism. We need the likes of Aquinas and the whole host of theological and philosophical tradition at our disposal, which they are should we look. JPII and BXI gave us tools to respond coherently and intelligently in the face of charges that our faith is irrational. Bishop Barron has some great videos on responding to atheism. I can only point out these documents to people, I can’t do the work for them. :o)

  • John00

    No, we are not supposed to throw up our hands! We, the Church, and our leaders must begin to once again provide an explanation of the faith and the need for it. Today’s preaching is dedicated to not upset anyone. Generally we only have the one hour on Sunday when those who still attend are at Mass, and it is here that we need to begin the re-evangalization of the faithful. Absent this, and in the continued presences of mixed messages from Rome, there may be little hope for the majority of those who would have been faithful.

  • Deacon Toby

    Yes but it seems suicidal…

  • Deacon Toby

    Countered and sidetracked by Pokemon Go!

  • Constance

    Evangelization of Catholics in the pews is just as urgent as non-believers. There is no question of the necessity of evangelization.

    My goal here was not to diagnose the entire problem. I was outlining one of the problems in that far too many within the Church have no idea what the Church teaches and don’t even look. When a college student is asked to read Nietzsche, and they do not know the Church’s response, a real struggle begins. He was a very talented and persuasive writer. As I was studying the works of various Post-Enlightenment philosophers, I was struck by how seductive they are and how reasonable they seem. They also appeal to our Fallen nature and desire to worship self. This is tough to battle for all of us, let alone impressionable youth.

    If we do not know how to respond to those philosophies, then we will often give in and assume (much of this is actually laziness) that the Church doesn’t have an answer. Well, she does and we need to start learning what those answers are so we can respond to our critics in their Ivory Towers of college campuses throughout the world who are leading our children astray.

  • Constance

    True, but thankfully the Holy Spirit keeps us well in hand, even as the Church shrinks, per BXVI’s diagnosis. Without the Holy Spirit, we would have wreaked the Barque of Peter on the rocks long ago.

  • Constance

    LOL…indeed! That’s a whole new can of worms. All I will say is parents need to stop letting their children live their entire lives on their computers and smartphones. The next generation will not be able to have a conversation in person. They will have to text as they stand near one another!

  • John00

    I agree completely with your comments, and I think the sooner we face these issues of lack of knowledge, the better we will be.

  • Cody

    Constance, You are onto a very excellent point. Reason and will alone (or logic and will) are proven to be rife with failures, lunacy, faulty presumptions and our modernist world is not exempt. Grace is what makes us human. Its fair to say that grace is a balm to the will and a profound comfort to the reason which animates it.

    Reason, will and grace as a package are not too difficult to teach to a young person and to flesh out later in junior high and high school CCD classes.

  • Randy Wanat

    You asked questions that had nothing to do with the topic. What has the Time cover to do with religious beliefs wilting under the hot eye of critical analysis and rational skepticism? You attributed positions to me without ever checking to see if they were correct and then demanded I defend them. That is nonsense.

  • Randy Wanat

    Oh, I read it. Here’s the problem: no matter what poetic and ambiguous language you use to describe it, you’re believing things that defy all reason. And, rather than find ways to prove those beliefs reasonable, you resort to railing against rational thought by using pleas to emotion and tribalistic in-group drum beating. Your beliefs serve as a key to a lock that opens a door to community, emotional support, and a feeling of belonging. There is nothing wring with those things. But, when critical thinking leads people away from that in-group, the instinct is to circle the wagons tight and demonize what is leading to people leaving, rather than asking yourself if the basis of your membership is as true as you wish it to be. I get it. People have huge chunks of their identities tied up in their religions, and having people disassociate with your religion makes people feel like there is a challenge being put to their identity, like an attack on them personally, saying that the belief, and, thus, their identity is invalid. Nobody wants to feel invalidated.

    I guess the main point is, if you had a similar story about people leaving Islam because they were finding the claims of the Koran ridiculous and irrational, you wouldn’t bat an eye. But, when it’s about YOUR religion, it’s not the religion’s shortcoming; people just aren’t being sufficiently socially and emotionally immersed in the faith. If you need social and emotional immersion to prevent critical thinking from damaging your religious beliefs, the problem isn’t the critical thinking.

  • Constance

    Randy, my first inclination would be to believe that you troll Catholic websites because it provides you a disordered sense of glib satisfaction for your pride, but I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are interested in actual intellectual inquiry.

    First, you provide a clearly relativistic worldview in your comment above. You want answers which are available to a variety of philosophical and theological questions. To understand Catholicism, you would need to understand that we hold that we are the fullness of truth. What does that mean? It means that other religions have some ray of truth, but they also have tremendous errors. It is only in Catholicism that the full truth revealed by God can be known. So, yes, we have little interest in Muslims leaving Islam or Mormons leaving Mormonism. Our hope would be that they have found Christ and His Church.

    Second, in order for you to even begin to engage with me or any other Catholic you have to study the person of Jesus Christ, a historical person, who walked this earth. We can’t engage in discourse until you have conducted a thorough and honest inquiry into Who the Church says Jesus Christ Is. Since He was a historical figure a decision must be made. You must decide whether or not he was crazy, evil, or the Son of God. There is not middle ground loving Guru. A reading of the Gospels shows this to be categorically false right away. Christ condemns harshly in certain mediums, so he is not a kumbaya leader.

    Here’s how you begin to make an honest study of Catholic teaching on Christ. Not evangelical Biblical literalism or any other branch of Christianity. Catholicism. If you are actually interested in engaging with us then you will do the following:

    Read Pope Benedict XVI’s Three Book series on Jesus

  • Randy Wanat

    You do understand that other religions claim the same exclusive access to the “Truth,” right? And, that each has apologetics that argue that all others are flawed and incorrect, but that theirs is a faith that leads to understanding reality properly. Each claims to be special. To the outsider, how does any show itself to be true, if any even is, without resorting to special pleading?

  • Constance

    There is no question that the Church is thoroughly lacking in community. It is one of the reasons so many leave the faith for evangelical circles. I agree with you completely.

    The issue, however, is that it is not our parish’s primary responsibility to teach the faith to our children: It is ours. We are the primary catechists and teachers of our children. This has been reaffirmed as recently as in Pope Francis’ encyclical Amoris Laetitia. As parents, we must begin to understand that it is our obligation to teach the faith in our homes with guidance from our parishes. Monsignor Charles Pope has written excellent thoughts on the topic of catechesis being relegated to the parish and how it has greatly damaged the Faith.

    We definitely need to increase community in our parishes. Part of this is an evangelization and a heart issue. Far too many Catholics are disengaged from the Faith even as they sit in the pews and file up for Holy Communion. Too many Catholics place their faith at the bottom of their priority list. That is a struggle for all of us, but community can only grow when people are engaged and truly growing in communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

    The Trinity is our guide to community and communion. People always say we need to have a personal relationship with Jesus. That is a largely Protestant understanding. We need to have a personal relationship with all Three Divine Persons to truly understand our mission. Christ is most accessible to us, but we cannot understand Christ apart from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

  • Cody

    The Time Magazine story is a glaring example of modernity with its will and its reasoning, wilting in the absence of grace. If you read Christ’s words on behavior in Matthew, you might understand the grace you are missing and condemning.

  • Cody

    Indifferentism. Yes, most of us know what it means. No pleading required. If you understand the limitations of knowledge, the limitations of will to reach others, limitations of our human love, that we never know what others really think of us and the limitations of our time on earth, then you have discovered the humility required to understand grace. Christ is known by His grace.

  • Randy Wanat

    Why should I care about what the Bible says any more than you care what the Koran says?

  • Randy Wanat

    Why should I care more about what the Bible says than you care about what the Koran says?

  • Cody

    The Koran and the other religious books don’t claim grace. It justifies people by law as does the Old Testament. They got close in the eastern religions, accentuating humility, but there was no grace.

  • Larrt

    I am a convert to the Church this is just my opinion.
    Catholic Schools, if you are not well flushed with money your kids will not get this treasured
    education. when I was young my poorest friends that were Catholic were all in Catholic School, now days the school is filled with Yuppies and Protestant children they do deserve a good education but now because of the non Catholic influence they dont get into the Belief
    or Scripture or Catholic Traditions. My point is Catholic Children should always be allowed to attend their Church School regardless of finances!

  • bluesuede

    In an article by Father James Jackson FSSP, Keeping Ones Eye Trained On The Truth, although he talks about the ways that lead to evil, he shows how one loses the truth:
    “Arriving at a distinct moral state typically involves a process of four more or less stages: the stage of inattentiveness, the stage of unwarranted questioning, the doubting stage,the reframing state.

    First stage: not paying enough attention to the truth in our daily lives…requiring effort.
    Second stage: we begin the question the unquestionable, raising problems about moral issues that, in themselves, are unproblematic. Allowing oneself to be influenced by opinions that prevail in our social and cultural milieu. Are there standards by which one can determine what is morally good or evil?

    Third stage: Openly doubting the truth about specific moral issues. Moral relativism coming from propaganda of media that defines what tolerance is, diversity and pluralism. We succumb to uncertainty, settling for a state of doubt…..
    Forth stage: We re-frame reality itself by moving beyond doubt and once again attain certainty, but in a tragic manner, for now our certainty is applied to an elaborate falsehood of our own manufacture, by which we make the bold but futile attemp to completely re-frame reality. We seek to turn the whole moral world upside down. What was once regarded as a clear moral evil, is now as positive moral good. …..We chose to live in a world founded on falsehood….habitually lying to ourselves…..God created us for the truth to which, we are naturally oriented: thus, by our commitment to falsehood we do violence to our very nature….”

  • bluesuede

    Randy we were created for truth by God who gives us truth, and peace.
    Being “special” doesn’t make something true.

    Only one God sent His Son to earth to become man, suffer and die to save us—–only one.

  • bluesuede

    Why did you chose a Catholic site?

  • Randy Wanat

    That is special pleading. “This one has this special difference, therefore it’s right.” Just because it has a difference doesn’t make it true, even if you really like that difference. I don’t care why you think it’s different; I want to know why it should be given special consideration, or any at all, versus all others.

  • Randy Wanat

    Those are all claims that have never been supported by evidence. You can no more demonstrate your supernatural beliefs to be true than the Hindu or Buddhist. When you can do that, that will be global news. Until then, your sincere belief is equal to the Hindu’s and the Buddhist’s.

  • Randy Wanat

    It is because I am unconvinced that you are right. I seek truth and evidence that demonstrates it. Do you? I want to believe things for good reasons. Do you? I care if the things I believe are actually true. Do you?

  • Pete

    Good points. I noticed God was absent in your decision making process.

  • bluesuede

    Usually turning from the truth is turning away from God. Turning from the morally defined truths that God established and are part of Judeo/Christianity and tradition that have even influenced good government.

  • bluesuede

    Yes, I do, but what are those things you believe are true?

  • bluesuede

    “Evidence”? Like what?
    When you say, “demonstrate supernatural beliefs” you are trying a trick question, because even science, no doubt that you put your faith in, does not accept the supernatural, so why or how could you without a magic show, even then, I doubt that it would convince you. I have no intention of trying to convert you. Only God can do that with the free gift of faith. We believe in His Word and we experience His love and care often.

  • Mary Myers

    “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” —Jesus

    Mental health is dedication to the Truth at all costs according to M.Scott Peck, the psychiatrist who wrote, “The People of the Lie.”

  • Pete

    I agree the family is key. That is where love and faith and hope grow and extend themselves. Those leaving the church are often in our very families. If we could help these lost brothers and sisters our church would grow and prosper.

    Dear Jesus bless all the lovely people in this discussion and their families. Bring them closer to you, the Son of the living God and our Savior. Send your Holy Spirit to guide us on what to say and how to say it so we may help restore them to holiness and glorify you and our Father. Amen.

  • Mary Myers

    I think most Catholic Schools make special arrangements for children, whose parents can’t afford tuition, to attend the schools. In my parish no child is turned away due to finances. There are always people who step up and give tuition assistance when asked or through fundraisers for the school.

    I think there should be a greater concern that not all Catholic Schools are teaching the true Catholic Faith. A lot of them are more secular than Catholic.

  • Cody

    You asked for the difference and why one should care for one over the other and I told you. Now you complain that I’m special pleading? I’ve already explained it to you but you have no concept of what grace is. I will try something else.

    Grace is intimate and immanent. In the others which you asked about earlier, there is no immanent God, no intimacy with God and they make no such claim. Only Christianity makes this claim. They are beliefs without intimacy with God’s Being. The eastern concepts have intimacy in being, but without immanent grace. You are trying to subjugate something which is of a different quality to reason, like trying to reduce beauty in the language of a car manual. God is no more subject to our reason than He is to our will. It’s as if you tried to consume space in language which is impossible. One is of Being, the other of language. Grace is a distinct beauty, absent in logic, reason, or will by themselves or in any combination. Grace is a distinct part of Being, with a capital B and such brings a special quality of consideration to will and thought. Grace unites reason and Being, the word and Being. That is one important reason.

  • Randy Wanat

    So, when someone changes their whole life in the name of Islam, that is evidence that Islam is true?

  • Randy Wanat

    Why do you think the things that make your religion different have anything to do with it being true? Islam has a prophet riding to Heaven on a winged horse with a woman’s head. No other religion has that. Again, just because you like the differences doesn’t have anything to do with whether it’s true.

  • bluesuede

    That’s a good question. All religions contain some truth, but not all truth. When one changes his life for Christianity, they receive grace to change into what God wants them to be and to do, not to gain 72 virgins in heaven, that’s manmade.

  • noelfitz

    Constance, many thanks for this fine article.
    Today I have returned from a conference at which I learned that two people I admire very much seem to have left the Church. I am saddened by this.

    Do I contribute to others losing faith by anything I do or fail to do?

    I hope God will bless these good people and lead them back.
    Please pray for us all.

  • Cody

    Are you paying any attention at all? What kind of statement is that? You can’t distinguish the difference between that which gives our will and thought its humanity and an image of ascension, possibly fundamental literalism? It’s not a matter of whether one likes “it”. The 20th century was one of horrendous wars, one after the next in the name of mankind’s hubris, will and belief in himself. The 19th century was also a similar blood thirsty century in the name of man, his ideals and so on. Such is a form of delirium and madness. If you want to discuss Islam, go to an Islamic blog.

  • Randy Wanat

    Well, that’s simply a circular argument. You know only Christianity is true because people change because of it. And, we know that other religious life changes aren’t evidence of other religions because only Christianity is true.

    I strongly recommend you reconsider your standards of evidence. Logical fallacies are only evidence of sloppy thinking.

  • Randy Wanat

    “You can’t distinguish the difference between that which gives our will and thought its humanity…” This is a claim that has never been supported by evidence. I can make up all kinds of stuff. Doesn’t make it true.

    We can’t find Mohammed, therefore his ascension story must be true. We can’t find Jesus, therefore the resurrection must be true. Two stories with believers willing to die over their belief in the stories, and not a lick of evidence to support either of them.

    A fantastic claim believed without evidence is just as credible as any other fantastic claim made without evidence. Why should anyone think more of the ones you prefer?

  • Cody

    The scientific method is fine in what it does, but a pity when it comes to our humanity.

    We do have evidence that mankind is a danger to himself and others, don’t we? How much war do you want as evidence? How much evidence do you need to understand that thought and evidence are not automatically of humanity in themselves? What humanity is in the analysis of a chemical substance? It has nothing to do with humanity other than to serve a function. How much evidence do you need to know that human will is not thoughtful of itself without something influencing it? People are very good at sports, at making money, at war, but not so good at loving their spouses in the day to day humdrum. There’s nothing fantastic in anything I’m saying, rather it is hubris to think our modern society has any purpose at all other than to pay the bills. It has no purpose, because it believes in nothing. So you’re about nothing, good for you.

  • Cody

    Before Christopher Hitches died, he wrote an article on Postmodernism and in it he understood that all standards had been demolished and that people were going to have to find some new kind of authentication or it would be left up to the marketplace, which he added was unacceptable. Well, nothing has changed since his article except that more people it seems have fallen into the hole where nothing means anything to them. You Randy are one such person. You can’t prove your humanity anymore than we can prove that grace brings humanity to thought and will. So off you go, into your solipsistic bubble where no one cares about you and you can keep telling yourself there’s no God who loves you. We understand the dilemma and choose otherwise.

  • Randy Wanat

    You do realize that empathy is a natural part of humans, right? That it doesn’t rely upon any supernatural anything, right?

  • Randy Wanat

    Which matters more: if you find it comforting, or if it’s actually true?

    Also, why do you equate atheism and nihilism? They’re not the same thing. I understand that many religions use that trope as a means of scaring people into being afraid to not believe, but do you understand that they’re two entirely different concepts? Do you also recognize that rationality and nihilism are not synonyms, either? Again, do you care if the things you believe are actually true? I ask again and again, but this simple question never gets a response. Why are people so afraid to admit the truth? I mean, I know why…cognitive dissonance…but, come on. Do you not have any intellectual honesty?

  • Cody

    So a lion is tender with its cubs, but isn’t empathetic to its prey. Now you are going to explain away two centuries of non stop war as evidence for our lack of humanity? You have demanded proof of grace, so it’s fair to ask, where is your proof that you are at all. Since all your thoughts are but non-evidential symbols, what makes you real? Your disbelief and demand for proof annihilates yourself. Your worldview itself is nothing more than an insipid idea incapable of but empty platitudes and symbolic gestures. It is you Randy who are holding an empty position in contradiction to your own fears and paranoia, presumptions and certainties. You can’t hide behind a few facts and pretend to be relevant. The burden falls on modernity to prove it has any meaning at all. Such is what the entire 20th century of atheists have failed to demonstrate, despite their great efforts and wars against the old order.

  • Randy Wanat

    Hard solipsism is the last resort of the person who can’t support their argument with facts.

  • Cody

    You have brought nothing to this conversation but your own failure to understand the limitations and dangers of thinking and will as their own ends, which plagued the 19th and 20th centuries. And from this you lecture others about intellectual honesty and meaning?

  • Randy Wanat

    You’re the one who resorted to hard solipsism. Don’t be cranky just because I called you out for it.

  • James B

    The Catholic Church has been turned into an absurd joke since Vatican II. Young people but even adults and now old people are still basically at the level they were when they received poor and insipid catechesis as children. The conclusion they arrive at is that the Catholic religion is something for kids or to add a sentimental, religious touch to certain occasions throughout life. Are we really surprised that so many don’t take their Catholic Faith seriously?

  • Cody

    Not solipsism. You framed your point as a choice between a truth and personal reality (comfort) which are both truths. It’s like asking me if I love my children or recognize them as a truth, as real. The two are not mutually exclusive. I love my children and they are real, if that’s what you mean by truth, but my love for them is equally true and real, though my love is subjective and can’t be proven as a fact.

  • bluesuede

    Read the words of Jesus Christ himself, and see if you can follow them. It’s not easy. To deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him as He shows us the way when He carried His own cross to His death and see if you think it is easy to change the way you are now, doing everything for yourself, to what He wants you to do when He says, “Learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart… take My yoke upon you, My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Promising that when we do, He will make it easier because He will give us His help and Love.

  • Constance

    This article covers one topic: faith and reason. It is not meant to be exhaustive. A 1500 word essay cannot diagnose the whole problem.

  • Constance

    Let’s try to stay on topic, please. This is about faith and reason.

  • Constance

    Thanks, Noel! I will be praying for your friends. Yes, indeed. We must all ask ourselves where we have failed.

  • Constance

    Orthodoxy is also a serious issue in Catholic schools. That is the reason we homeschool, but I do know people who could not afford it because of how many children they have and how much money they make. As in they make too much money for assistance, but they still could not afford the $24000 per year to send all 4 of their children.

  • Constance

    This is a good outline. Doubt is a part of the Christian journey, but we must always remain on guard and continue to do the work necessary towards holiness and truth, even though we don’t “feel” it. Our faith is not contingent upon our feelings. Thank God for that!

  • Constance

    Exactly, Cody! Far too often we underestimate our kids. They learn far more than we give them credit for, especially when they are young. CCD classes are only a small a start, but the real catechesis is meant to be done in the home. Yes, my daughter has a student theologian as a mother, so I can teach her topics others may not be able to, but everyone is responsible for learning the faith, everyone, and teaching it to their kids through example, prayer, and study.

  • Randy Wanat

    Love is demonstrable. There are actions which evidence love. There are detectable brain activity patterns which evidence love. Is there anything even remotely approaching that kind of evidence for the things you claimed?

  • bluesuede

    Baiting much?

  • Randy Wanat

    And, Muslims say much the same thing regarding reading the Koran and conversion to Islam.

    Has it ever occurred to you that it’s possible for someone to read your Bible and not buy what it’s selling?

  • Randy Wanat

    Not baiting. You are making factual claims about reality. I am asking for evidence that supports your claims. You either do have evidence but refuse to present it, or don’t have evidence and refuse to admit it. Please, be honest with me and yourself and pick a lane.

  • Cody

    Before such machines recognized brain patterns would you have doubted love? Let’s forget the brain patterns for a minute because they determine simple signals, yes, no, fear, affinity. Hardly has all life been interpreted in its complexity from simple electrical patterns any more than we can read the details of an intricate story from body language. Rather, the limited gives us hints to the nature of the complex. Many people do acts of love which are not recognized, because people don’t see them, don’t understand them, misinterpret them, or doubt them and it doesn’t mean they’re not there.

    From our limited experience, humans don’t know the full spectrum of love. In your skepticism, you are limiting the capacity of love to what can be proven and what can be proven is limited to your existing understandings. Such is the human spirit. But we recognize an unbound spirit of love as being from a different spirit, not one forever in self doubt, cautious to a fault, limited, but one which is alive. Such can be recognized in its sublime tenderness, but we don’t always recognize it and we don’t always understand or interpret it correctly.

  • Cody

    All that you say is true. Beyond the immediate subject matter of faith and reason, you are really saying as I hear it, that this a fantastic subject, this subject of God’s love is no peripheral matter, but an endless source of growth in understanding the subtle nature of love, mercy, justice, the virtues, joy, sorrow, etc. That this is a wonderful reality, fall in love already. Yes, it’s obvious that you are alive and happy through prayer and the sacraments. That’s coming though loud and clear, that you refuse to despair, despite everything. Yes, that happy spirit is coming through.

  • Randy Wanat

    But, you don’t disagree that we have evidence of love. Do you have any evidence for your claims that is anywhere near as real as the evidence for love? If yes, please present. If no, please admit.

  • bluesuede

    I don’t lose sleep over it Randy.

  • bluesuede

    I don’t have to prove anything to you Randy.
    You are the one who is asking all the questions and answering all the responses. Yours is not a two way discussion, yours is hit back and keep hitting. Sorry I’m not playing your game. If you were serious about finding the truth, keep searching, and ask God to show you.

  • Cody

    Re-read what I wrote. Yes there are some obvious measures of love, but not for all love. Much love in our lives goes past us like water under a bridge and we are never the wiser for it. It was there, but went unnoticed. Many people spend much of their lives hungering for love and don’t even know it. They don’t really know what it is, nor where it is, no less how to find it, except that it has something to do with being acknowledged and often people never understand love also requires acknowledgement.

    My claims as you put it, are that there is a love not limited by human fears, etc. That is the spirit we acknowledge. The only evidence is in acknowledging such love. A great way to limit the reality of love is to fail to return acknowledgement. People write their own limitations. I can only testify to the love in my life, not the love in your life. So there’s your answer.

  • bluesuede

    True. God created us for love, but not all the things we love are good.

  • Cody

    Having lived much of my life as a non-believer, I understand your point only too well. Curiously, many of the things loved were not of a nature capable of returning love, but were simply self acknowledgments, success, pleasure and so on. They were acts and efforts of trying to buy love; even attempts to become worthy of love.

  • Deacon Toby

    Hopefully I’m not THAT deacon??

  • bluesuede

    The lack of engagement is because the parishes do not teach what sin is, what grace is, what the sacraments are and what they can do for us. We are not saved by feeling warm and fuzzy in homilies that say all are going to Heaven. Not talking about the seriousness of sin and the great mercy and love that Christ offers us in doing His will. We have become Protestant and are losing the sacred. Who talks anymore about the saints and what their lives were like as an example to us who are all called to be saints? Ecumenism can water down our own beliefs as some prelates are trying to look more like our Protestant brothers and sisters. Why aren’t there long lines at confession, there certainly are at Communion? Am I judging what’s in their heart, no.
    Who genuflects before the Blessed Sacrament at his pew first? Who tells his flock that ssm and abortion and contraception and divorce and remarriage are sins that can cut us off from the friendship of God and keeps us from the Holy Eucharist? If there is no faith, they will not believe.

  • bluesuede

    Same here.
    Always stick with the Gospels and the sacraments. To the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Eucharist. We are living in the times predicted to be a great suffering for the Church (the true Church).
    If you can find a traditional Mass, it would be to you a joy.

  • bluesuede

    I’m so glad you found the true faith Cody.
    God knew full well that after the fall of Adam and Eve our love became disordered and self-centered. Giving us His commandments proves His great love for us in guiding us towards what is worthy of our love—Himself first. All sacred scripture tries to direct us to that end, to God who is love itself even though we tend to put everything else in that place, He never gives up on us.

  • Julie

    There is talk that confirmation was postponed to high school so they could look forward to some initiation in the Church, but by then their focus is on leaving home and making friends.

  • Mary Myers

    Tuition for four children at $24K per kid is indeed expensive. It’s no where near that where I live. I wonder just how great the Catholic education is with tuition like that. How much money would be left over for a family with four kids in school to live on after taxes and paying $96K to the school/church?

  • Constance

    Sorry that wasn’t clear. It is $24,000 per year for four children total, $6000 per year per child. That’s still $96,000 just for high school…

  • Randy Wanat

    But, you do acknowledge that it is possible that people can read your Bible and not be converted, yes? And, you do acknowledge that people change their lives for the better for other faiths just like they do for yours, and even for no faith at all. You acknowledge that they claim exclusive access to the Truth just like you do, and use their holy books to make those claims. You acknowledge that all religions have apologetics about why they are the one true faith, and why their religion is special and different from all the others.

    Why do you believe your religion is true? Not the apologetics, not the catch phrases and jargon…why do you believe? Don’t snap off an answer right away. Give yourself time. I don’t want your canned response. I want honesty, not your counterpunch.

  • Randy Wanat

    You’re creating a very ambiguous umbrella for that word, love. You’re tying it to reciprocity, altruism, and many other things that are pretty well understood from an evolutionary standpoint, and which don’t require supernatural means to explain.

    Again, do you have anything that comes close to the evidence we have for love to support your claims?

  • bluesuede

    No, I did not acknowledge that all religions have good reasons why they are the one, true faith. Most of them don’t even claim that. I said all religions have “some” truth. We all have free will to chose to believe or not believe.

    Only the Catholic Church claims to have “all” truth from God.
    Faith is why I believe. It is a gift from God, anyone can ask for the gift of faith. Only God can give the gift of faith.

    I’m cutting you loose Randy. If it seems I’m going in circles, it’s because you can’t break out of your circle of questions and canned responses. Adios.

  • Cody

    I explained to you how love requires acknowledgement, which implies acceptance. It also implies love is a participation of two. Yet love is also an action of one upon another. If one is too proud to be loved, to accept love, then they can’t receive it, or may even react badly to it, (as I did originally). Now what kind of evidence could such produce? Why would one react badly to accepting a gift? If one is loved, but doesn’t understand it as so because they’re busy looking for evidence, it is like water under the bridge. There are impediments to love. People would have never asked whether there was a love unbounded, or believed such if Christ never said so. We accept that, you don’t. Which means, we recognize an unbound tenderness which you don’t. That’s all. I testify to that.

    Yes, I experience such in prayer and in the faith and sacraments. You don’t. So be happy if you are happy (and I’m glad for your happiness). When receiving a sublime gift, I don’t ask for evidence that the gift is real. I know it’s real because I experience it as sublime and if it is sublime, how else could it be otherwise as such is the nature of sublime to be hidden. It’s a gentle touch, like a gift unasked for found in a note. Human love is bounded by its suspicions which you demonstrate with your prodding, but unbounded love is not, nor is it a force field, an aesthetic experience which is different, but it is a relationship. A tender relationship. Be my guest, you can look for evidence all you wish, but the evidence is experiential and it requires a certain humility or grace to receive it, it is a matter of acceptance.

  • Randy Wanat

    Hold on. You just changed my words. I did not say “good reasons,” I said “apologetics.” You wouldn’t want me putting words in your mouth; please, don’t put them in mine. Now, please address what I ACTUALLY said. Thank you.

  • Randy Wanat

    You are now adding “relationship” to the umbrella. One can love and not be in a mutual relationship with the object of one’s love.

    And, we have evidence of relationships, too.

    So, again: do you have anything remotely like the evidence we have for love to support the claims you made? If yes, present it. If no, admit it. But, please stop trying to avoid addressing the actual question. Tap dancing is for the dancefloor.

  • Cody

    I’ve provided a great amount of evidence and even you keep telling me that there’s evidence for each. The real curiosity here is pride, as people in the modern world are raised to rely on themselves. I was and so the notion of participating in something larger than myself, needing something other than myself was an incredible affront to my pride. Even to participate in something greater in beauty and not an extension of me was an affront to my pride. So you can add pride to the collection of relational evidence of human behaviors interacting with the faith.

    Now what exactly are you objecting to on the grounds of lack of evidence? Is it unbound love? Or is it sublime beauty? Just exactly what is it you are objecting to, because the interior beauty is the basis for the faith, the participation in something larger and more beautiful than oneself. It can be accessible intellectually, but is not complete in a dry intellectual form, there is a spirit to the matter. The particular theological things which trouble you are in fact unknown or unknowable to us, but by the beauty experienced in so acknowledging them. Is that understandable to you, even though you don’t experience such?

    PS: Yes, I mentioned the unacknowledged relationship in my previous comment.

  • Randy Wanat

    I never claimed no gods exist, though there is as much reason to suppose they do, based on the evidence, as there is to suppose leprechauns exist. You claim a deity exists. Neat. You bear a burden of proof for any rational person to accept your claim as true. You don’t HAVE to prove it, but when people claim there is good reason to accept a claim as true, yet refuse to present their evidence, it leads a rational person to think either the claimant knows their evidence is poor, or they know they have no evidence at all.

  • Mary Myers

    I would think that the Catholic School would have some sort of sliding fee scale for those with several children. I’d like to know what the income level cut off is for tuition aid for a family with four kids. I realize that cost of living varies from state to state and that out east the cost of living would be high in certain areas.

  • bluesuede

    For those who don’t believe no explanation is possible, for those who believe no explanation is necessary.

  • Randy Wanat

    Of course an explanation is possible, or else conversions would be impossible and teaching children would be pointless. Trying to find excuses for an inability to make a coherent case is not a win. It is a retreat to avoid admitting to being without any meaningful way of making your case.

    I have asked for evidence of your claims about grace as a gift from a supernatural being and so forth. You have repeatedly avoided presenting evidence or admitting you don’t have any. Please, be honest, and pick a lane. There is no shame in admitting to believing things that have no evidence. You perhaps know it’s not wise to believe such things, but if you think you have evidence, let’s see it.

  • Nine Man Morris

    Randy, I am a faithful, traditional Catholic. However, I want to tell you in my vast experience with children and adolescents; you are 100% correct. The problem is certain doctrines do not hold up to critical thinking. The hierarchy, such as Pope Francis, is trying to respond to that, but the faithful just tear down their efforts to preserve belief in the 21 st century.
    As for the author, the problem with all the encyclicals and Aquinas (I’ve read them all, in Latin, believe me) is that they are all Aristotlean. You mention H.G. and evolution. In the simplest language, it says that an ape body could have evolved, but God stuck a soul in it to make Adam 6000 years ago. And Eve came from Adam. First of all, science says the bottleneck or smallest breeding population that could have been in human ancestry by modern genetics is about 100,000, not two. If it had been as small as two, we would see that in our genetic sequencing. Also, we make intelligent networks and 3D print lifeforms. Also, we have neurology and psychiatry which function practically on the reality that our minds are chemical machines. Mental illness is real and inherited, and it is treated chemically. A Telihardian thesis that our “souls” did evolve from lower minds over time through evolution, until they reached a qualitative level where they could know about God is far more provable. Also, the irony here is that HG is inconsistent with Aquinas/Aristotle. The main difference between Aristotle and Plato is that Aristotle said that forms are embedded in the actual object not floating around heaven somewhere. Whereas Plato would suggest water is grey “stuff” with the form of water (with wetness, fluidity, etc) come down from heaven to make it water with its properties, Aristotle would say water would be made of parts of stuff (like two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom), but what made it water, its form, was the arrangement of the parts in space (like the two hydrogen atoms bound to a central oxygen with an angle of 104.5 degrees). His analogy is how a chair is wood molded into a certain shape. This is why Aristotle is considered to be the grandfather of science. So, ghostly souls sticking into ape bodies would be very un-Aristotlean, very un-Aquinas. In fact, matter becoming more complex until it is conscious of God would be much more consistent with Aristotle and Aquinas. So HG contradicts church teaching and is patently ridiculous and false anyway.
    Furthermore, the modern philosophies cannot be separated from academics and productive employment, nor can computer use and familiarity. Universities teach the building blocks of modern life, and just like the material events in your life follow the aspirations, goals, and expectations of your mind, world activity follows philosophy and world-view. Our government, technology, and medicine come from modern philosophy, and we are all embedded in it and it’s fruits. Jihadi Islamic groups teach creationism and a flat earth, leaving their teens fit for nothing but frustrated suicide. This is the problem with faithful Catholics after 18, especially if home-schooled. St. John Paul the Great and Pope-Emeritus Benedict especially embraced modern philosophy. Also, Augustine famously saw much of the Bible as allegorical, famously saying,
    “Often, a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances, … and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.
    The shame is not so much that an ignorant person is laughed at, but rather that people outside the faith believe that we hold such opinions, and thus our teachings are rejected as ignorant and unlearned. If they find a Christian mistaken in a subject that they know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions as based on our teachings, how are they going to believe these teachings in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think these teachings are filled with fallacies about facts which they have learnt from experience and reason.
    Reckless and presumptuous expounders of Scripture bring about much harm when they are caught in their mischievous false opinions by those not bound by our sacred texts. And even more so when they then try to defend their rash and obviously untrue statements by quoting a shower of words from Scripture and even recite from memory passages which they think will support their case ‘without understanding either what they are saying or what they assert with such assurance.’ (1 Timothy 1:7)”
    A commenter Donna early was right too, as is Randy. It is not some vague harmonization that is needed, but rather that specific doctrines and assumptions, not found in the creed or the repository of faith, are held to that completely offend reason and fail to pass the test of critical judgment. Full stop.
    You are heading for a disaster with your own children in the adolescent years on this path. I am the father of two college-age children. Everything you say is old, has been tried before, and got us to where we are now. Pope Francis is right – the Church must recover her mission of mercy, stick to the barest skeleton of the creed, and be open to the mystery of all we don’t know, being open to continued growth in truth through the Holy Spirit.
    Prayer cannot help people find faith because they’re not going to pray if they don’t believe in God or the Church. Sacraments can be any form you wish, but no one will be converted or moved by them if the Church is empty when they’re performed. The Church actually changed the liturgy because no one was going. I’ve talked to many old Catholics, and about 3/4 acknowledge that faith and attendance in the late 50s were abysmal. The 80s saw more attention and interest in the Catholic than she had enjoyed for centuries, and Pope Francis even more so!
    The Church has given communion to remarried people before. She did it before the schism of 1054, which is why the Orthodox do it today, and it’s in the Enchiridion Symbolarum around year 300. Just like the world was not created 6000 years ago in 6 days, and just like the Messiah was not a conquering, earthly king as the Jews expected, and Isiah and Jeremiah’s bombastic prophecies about the pillars of the world collapsing really just meant Babylonians were going to take Jerusalem and demolish the temple, we don’t really know very much about what God really wants or will do from the heavily poetic scripture. The Church has no idea if God intended to condemn the 1% or so of the population with some sort of inborn or epigenetic factors to homosexuality since they didn’t even know these things existed. In all probability, he was talking to other 99%, for whom homosexuality was prison rape, soldier rape, or bisexual orgies. You obviously cannot get your same body back in the resurrection, as you don’t even have the same body you had seven years ago – every atom is changed. We have no idea what the resurrection really means. Women using NFP kits, which not have hormone and blood tests even, are no more natural that a women taking a hormonal medication to prevent ovulation and fertilization. No fertilization, no violation of the fifth commandment. Spontaneous miscarriages happen more with NFP than the pill. “20 percent of women who know they are pregnant have a miscarriage some time before 20 weeks of pregnancy; 80 percent of these occur in the first 12 weeks.” None of this was known, even in the early sixties. It is actual, specific stupidities that ruin faith.
    In modern language, we could say that God is like a man who has a dream, and, just like you sometimes do, he dreamed himself as a character in the dream. He did this so you could know him, and imitate him to grow in love and holiness so that you may have eternal life. Your instructions are to love and to give. The kingdom of heaven is a future day of peace, justice, and world harmony, a day only attainable by knowing God. Saint Theresa of Calcutta is a great example of how to be Catholic today.
    You can sell this to young people and the world. You cannot sell illogical, hateful, irrational, scientifically false, and exclusive doctrines successfully anymore. Pope Francis is pursuing the only tenable path left, that of doctrinal change and modernization. I think he may be one of the greatest modern Popes. And he is very much continuing the work of Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict.

  • Randy Wanat

    I agree with much of what you said, except, notably, about Teresa. The image the RCC ended up having to create for her hid the travesty that was intentionally played out under her authority. Reusing needles until too dull to work properly, withholding ameliorative treatments to increase the suffering of those in her “care,” and a fetishizing of suffering to the point that the people were not humans but mere chalices, spilling their pain for her to enjoy while she refused to subject herself to the same standards she deemed adequate for her patients despite having monies enough to fund a more proper hospice center.

    But, that aside, nice to see someone not approaching the subject defensively. Facts are not to be feared, and having them shown should not be considered a call to arms.

  • Spiritual Ronin

    All of the reasons enumerated in this article are true but my reasons why I have left the Church (after coming back to her under Benedict XVI) have been different. They are, in order of importance: 1. A total indifference to the suffering of animals, especially in the horrors of industrial farming (I know from repeated experience that many Catholics will sooner come to terms with abortion, euthanasia or homosexuality than with vegetarianism or veganism.) 2. The mind-boggling theological mess introduced and encouraged by the current pope. 3. The near-total lack of true spirituality which is being replaced by social activism and vague emotionalism.

  • Constance, I hear you, but is it really a failure to communicate? If we had perfect communication, how many would we steer back? My hunch is not many. The problem is that education itself denies anything remotely smelling of religion. We’re in an era of hyper empiricism, and there isn’t much we’re gonna do about it.

  • Those are reasons for rejecting the Eucharist? They are important issues, but not taking in Christ at least once a week is an over reaction.If you believe in the Eucharist then no issue is worth leaving over. Trust in Jesus and pray.

  • Ameribear

    Using faith can lead to many different gods and beliefs. Using a scientific philosophy tends to lead to the same answers.

    I think the point Constance is making is that faith and reason must remain linked. Sounds to me like you’re saying that it’s six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. If one relies solely on one or the other then what’s the difference?

    The kids understand this and realize faith is not a valuable tool if you want to believe things that are true.

    Again, it seems to me that the main theme of the Authors essay is that faith and reason must always be used together if one wishes to arrive at truth. Atheists are
    constantly making the false assumption that the two are incompatible. You believe that reason must be jettisoned if one wishes to be religious and that no one can be a person of true reason without renouncing their religious beliefs.

    Yes I am atheist and was raised Catholic. I thought I would share my views. I admitted to my self around 19 that I didn’t believe and it was a struggle for years for me to stop forcing faith upon me.

    I’m very sorry to hear that and I’m happy you’ve taken the time to share that with us. What lead you to believe that the Catholic faith has to be forced on anyone?

  • Ameribear

    Do not despair! We have the intellectual sledge hammers and wrecking balls left to us by our forefathers and in times like these Our Lord and our Holy Mother are calling all of us to pick them back up and go after our enemies. We have more than enough intellectual fire power to lay waste to every one of these new-age hacks arguments but we simply lack the will and initiative to make proper use of it. Shut off the TV, dust off Aquinas and Augustine and jump in with all you have!

  • bluesuede

    Listen Randy, I know that you are only here to debunk God. You can’t shake our faith.

    This is what I’ll give you for the last time.
    When Jesus Christ walked this earth, He worked countless miracles right before their eyes and they called it sorcery and said He had a demon, “Only an evil and perverse generation demands a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”
    And Jesus walked away, and so do I.

  • Randy Wanat

    Possible? Yes, because there is nothing about the universe that would necessarily prevent any other planets from resembling Earth. But, if you’re asking if there IS life elsewhere, I don’t know, because we are incredibly ignorant about the overwhelming majority of planets in the universe, and haven’t touched any planet outside our solar system. Do you understand the difference? I don’t need to prove there is life elsewhere to say it’s possible, because if life can occur in the universe (which, clearly, it can), there is no reason to think it must only be possible once in one place. But, to claim it exists or doesn’t exist demands evidence.

    So, you see, just like I didn’t debunk extraterrestrial life, I didn’t debunk God, nor did I set out to do so. Never have I claimed that your deity doesn’t exist and sought to prove it. You claim it exists. Great. You made a factual claim about reality. Your burden of proof. Demonstrate it exists. And, if you choose not to for whatever reason, explain why anybody should give your deity claim any more weight than anyone else’s.

    That’s not debunking.

    Now, if a Muslim told you that Allah is the one true deity and Mohammed was his prophet, would you accept Koran quotes as evidence to support his claim? If not, then why do you think I would accept Bible quotes to support your claim? Do you not recognize that the Bible is the claim, and using the Bible to prove the Bible is not how you do it? If you wouldn’t accept the Koran to prove the Koran, why should I accept the Bible to prove the Bible?

  • Morrie Chamberlain

    I am sure Ronkin church shopped and found a church that fit their ideal. At some point that church will not fit the ideal and the church shopping will begin anew. I know of no church document that says being a vegetarian is a bad thing. Pope Francis has led many people back to the faith. Any Catholic who knows their faith knows that an off the cuff remark by a pope on a plane is not doctrine. What other institution has survived two millennia with leaders much worse than Pope Francis. I do not consider his papacy mind boggling nor is their church deprived of true spirituality. Let me count the ways. We have the writings and examples of great saints like Saint Theresa and St. John of the Cross. We have orders of contemplative religious. We have Eucharistic Adoration. We have stations of the Cross. We have the rosary. We have the Mass. And like Manny said, we have the Eucharist.

  • Morrie Chamberlain

    Hey Randy, a good book to read is Trent Horn’s “Answering Atheism”. Study St. Thomas Aquinas. He integrated Aristotlean western philosophy with Christianity. Do you not think that the greatest minds for 2000 years have not pondered the faith? They use their reason to explore the many mysteries of God. It is a great adventure. You will find peace. You would be great addition to our side.

  • Morrie Chamberlain

    Coming to the conclusion that Mother Therese was anything but a saint is a great example of reason separated from faith.

  • JustARationalGuy

    I do not blame any Catholic, especially young Catholics for leaving the Church.

    If I had to endure the average Catholic Mass in America year after year, I would bolt out the door the first chance I got too.

    Have you ever once heard “The Catholic Church is true.” in your parish?

    What about “The Catholic Church is the key to your eternal salvation.” Have you heard that?

    Or what about “Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church.” Ever heard that?

    I’m willing to bet that most Catholics haven’t heard any of those.

    If there is no reason for someone to stay, why shouldn’t they just up and leave? If Catholicism is no different than any other religion out there, walking away isn’t that bad.

    If our own pastors and bishops don’t care enough to talk about the faith from the pulpit, why should people care enough about the faith to stay in the Church?

    Go to any mosque after their Friday service, and ask people walking out “Is islam the true faith?” You will get 100% of people saying “Yes.” They are taught from birth that islam is the one true faith. Go ask your average Catholic if they think Catholicism is true, and you’ll be hard-pressed to get someone to say “Yes it is.”

    The Church is running on “cultural inertia” right now. In Europe it’s running out, and we in America, and the rest of the West, aren’t far behind.

  • Randy Wanat

    Predictions: Horn uses “atheism” to mean asserting non-existence of gods, and, at best, argues that a deistic god is possible, while never providing actual evidence (not merely facts, but facts that necessarily indicate a particular conclusion).

    If I could find, say, three logically fallacious arguments in that book, would you consider it a good resource? What if I could do it in the first 50 pages? For that matter, if I could demonstrate that he is making verbose versions of logically fallacious arguments, and could show you why the arguments are not valid, would you admit that his arguments are not sound?

    If you think this is some of the best ammunition for defending the faith, and I dismantle it before you, what would that mean to you?

  • Randy Wanat

    So, you’re saying that treating people badly + faith = yay? If that’s how faith works, explain why anybody should place any positive value on faith.

  • Morrie Chamberlain

    From reading your comments, I have my doubts that you have the foggiest idea what constitutes a fallacial argument. Do you know how arrogant you sound making predictions on a book you have never read to claim that you could dismantle the author’s arguments? How about a little humility my friend.

  • Randy Wanat

    Apologetics are, by their very nature, predicated on logical fallacies. This is necessarily so because if there were actual evidence to support their claims, there would be no need for apologetics.

    But, let’s posit that I could do what I claim. Would it continue to be a good resource? Would you continue using those or similar apologetics? If that was the best you had, and it was shown to be impotent, what would that mean to you? Would you acknowledge that impotence? Can you even confront that scenario hypothetically?

  • Alan

    The problem from my perspective is that the Church is no longer relevant. The majority of lapsed Catholics are not amateur Theologians but people who wanted to be directed by a Church that seemed to have the answers and a strong belief in God. Unfortunately the Church has lost direction due to all the sexual abuse cases and the fact that it is run by old men who do not understand the needs of modern society. Vatican 11 tried to give the church relevance but has not been fully implemented. Pope Benedict would appeal to the Theologians whilst Pope Francis appeals to the average person in the street with real issues to resolve, such as where is the next meal coming from. The majority of Catholics are from 3rd world countries! Naval gazing will not help these people. “Faith by itself without good works is dead.” James 2.17. Before we can help ourselves we need to help others.

  • Morrie Chamberlain

    Again I am not sure you are aware of what fallacious means. Fallacious refers to the logical structure of the argument. Using terms incorrectly or using false premises or using faulty logic (fallacious) can lead to a false argument. I also do not think you know what apologetics means. It is an apologia or defense of the faith. I can defend my Catholic faith against atheists (one type), against Deists (another type), against non Christians, or against non Catholics (another type). So you sound foolish when you say apologetics is based on fallacious argumentation. You have to give an example of fallacious argumentation or the faulty premises you claim to say one aspect of apologetics is not correct. Faulty logic is to say that after you achieved this you could say that all apologetics is false because apologetics covers many topics and do not depend on each other (quite often).

  • Randy Wanat

    Ok, let me make it clearer: formal apologetics generally fall into at least one of the following categories: argument from ignorance/incredulity; false dichotomies (or more); strawman; circular reasoning; cherrypicking; Texas sharpshooter. Also, lying, making stuff up, and basing arguments on premises not demonstrated to be true.

    Apologetics like Horn is using are to make believers feel like they have rational reasons for their belief, not to convince unbelievers, which is why their arguments survive. The believer doesn’t care if the argument is sound as much as if it sounds like something that should be convincing. Otherwise, you would have already torn the various arguments for your deity apart yourself by now.

    But, if you disagree, tell me the strongest argument for your deity according to you. Then, tell me if that convinced you, or if you only learned it after you had your belief.

  • Faithful

    Its all a false dichotomy. To recriminate against Israelites because they did not know anything about contemporary cosmology is setting ourselves up for the status of total idiots in 100 years or more. Science in its various fields is simply about how the world works. As for meaning that is something greater. Religion and its content is part of human culture and knowledge. It is an accumulation and a reflection. Some religions are false, some partly true and false. one true. To say religious language is not scientific language is true. Yet to confuse the two is ignorant. While Christians particularly clergy have been at the forefront of all fields of natural sciences it seems recently scientists without declaring it have adopted atheism. They think its very enlightened. They are like the engineers who saw no issue with building crematorium at Auschwitz. They see no connection with meaning and so routinely do immoral things in the name of knowing. Its time to discredit their moral credentials because they have been using propaganda to mislead.

  • Deacon Toby

    Inclined to agree my friend, salvation, can’t touch it, see it, smell it, taste it, so why is the thought of it necessary for life? Stuck in the matrix…

  • Deacon Toby

    Well not everyone has Aquinas, and Augustine, however I’ve found a great resource in Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s latest book, ‘The Book of Mysteries’ from which I’ve gleaned some interesting knowledge. When you look at the defection to the feel good ministries Joel & Co it’s a challenge to counter their message. Many of our clergy are not willing to think outside the box, so we lose the comparative sermon race on Sunday and As noted in my past responses ‘faith’ is loosing it’s priority status…the mystery has lost its excitement because we have let the mystery lose it’s excitement. Bring back the mystery.

  • Randy Wanat

    “The majority of lapsed Catholics are not amateur Theologians but people who wanted to be directed by a Church that seemed to have the answers and a strong belief in God.”

    How did you reach this conclusion? That they were just hoping for someone forceful enough to squelch their questions?

  • Randy Wanat

    Isn’t it possible…just the slightest bit possible…that your religious beliefs could be incorrect, and trying to turn him into a believer would be doing him a disservice? Is it even conceivable for you that human fallibility has crafted a belief system that is kind of coherent on the surface and designed to provide a sense of comfort, with lots of community-building attributes, but a core belief that is ultimately not true? Can’t it possibly be that you are the one in need of conversion, and that it’s the realization that him being a wonderful person who doesn’t share your religious belief threatens the sense of identity that gas been cultivated in you by that religion? I’m not saying I’m right, but is it in any way possible that you, an imperfect person, are capable of having been misled (whether you or those leading you knew it or not)?

  • Alan

    It may be an age factor. I grew up in Australia in the 1950’s & 60’s and Australia is a very secular country. Catholics went to church because it was expected of them. In junior schools run by nuns we were caned for not attending Sunday Mass and parents got a visit from the local priest to bring them in to line. May have been different for you.

  • Julie

    First, you have to study Church History and recognize the great contribution to the world the Church has provided, the most humanizing force in the world.

    But I think alot has to do with the fact that the secular, social media, all the propaganda and contrary beliefs do have an impact on a teen who is searching….and mine especially very smart.

    I am proud that he is very kind and thoughtful.

    But also have to go back to the the Church itself and the countless testimony of faith down through the ages…redemptive suffering the great means evil is turned into good.

    I think we are at the times where we need to go into the trenches to survive…I think it is coming to us, and perhaps, hopefully, people can re consider the worth of their own life, where they came from and where they are going.

    I started college in ’67 when the big sex revolution, the revolt against parents who gave us everything after suffering WWII, the emerging drug culture to help someone ‘find themselves’.

    In my mother’s time, being bad was running down the corridor in high school, chewing gum, and not staying in line, and many valued virginity and permanency of marriage.

    Divorce came down to every day people again, around my parents’ time, and this led to further breakdown of the family.

    I think when we are no longer connected to the people we should be, life’s meaning changes as well.

  • Randy Wanat

    But, is it even conceivable to you that your beliefs, which I understand have supplanted some part of your identity, could be in error? Every religion claims truth, and believers have similar explanations or justifications for their beliefs. Just like it’s possible that they are incorrect, isn’t it even remotely possible that you, a fallible human, could likewise be mistaken?

  • Julie

    Our self identity is found in Christ loving us, the more we die to self, the more authentic we become of our true selves. Redemptive power.

    Testimony found in the lives of the saints.

    There is indeed truth in all religions that enable us to love our neighbor to treat our neighbor as ourselves.

    Confucius composed 7 of the 10 commandments except those revealing God, which was given to the Jews alone.

    Religio is Latin, meaning to look up, to bind.

    Christ is the Son of Man…the Word through which the world was created….and the Crown of Creation who came to fulfillment through the Virgin All Pure….to make us complete, we bound to the LIving God, the Word Made Flesh.

    Just looking at what I wrote…how many young people even come to such a thought??

  • Randy Wanat

    I understand it’s a frightening proposition, but it’s just a yes/no question. Is it possible that your religious beliefs are in error?

  • Julie

    No because they come from the Unmoved Mover….outside of us who are creatures and err.

    Our understanding of God can be compared to an eye of an owl next to the sun…Thomas Aquinas.

    I would check out his book on ‘God’ from his ‘Summa Theologica’.

    Greek philosophers from ancient times knew you can prove the existence of God from reason alone and so did Thomas, Cause and Effect…and he inserted God as the Cause.

    It doesn’t frighten me at all. I could think I am returning to dust…but I am worth more than that, and so are you. I think you think people are afraid. People do need to find meaning in their life.

    But there is also a common experience by people who go through conversion and the stories are always so similar….that is …an authentic conversion.

    Anyway, I am old and so I am not into the highs and lows any more of life…nothing surprises me really.

  • Julie

    Say…what do you believe in?

  • Julie

    No again, because we have hundreds of years of ecclesiastics and theologians and saints all getting into it with each other….and over time, a consensus of belief falls deeper into understanding.

    Christology did not come about overnight.

  • Randy Wanat

    If a Muslim is just as convinced about his faith as you are of yours, to the point that they say it’s impossible that they cannot possibly be incorrect, how can anyone determine which of you (if either) is correct? The Muslim will cite similar ancient arguments, texts, scriptures, and so on. How could we go about figuring out what is true?

  • Randy Wanat

    I don’t know what you mean by that. Please, be more specific. It’s like asking, “what do you like?” Without context, it’s too broad to answer properly.

  • Julie

    Because God does not reveal Himself and then come back and give gnostic explanation….that based on private knowledge, …as well as we know Muhammed drew from the Bible, encountered monastics who prayed throughout the day.

    To clarify, Christ chose 12 apostles as witnesses to Him and His earthly ministry as well as becoming a prefigurement to His divine ministry.

    There is so much to Sacred Scripture that is fulfilled in Christ, and not in some individual outside of salvation history.

    Islam expanded through contradiction of the One True God and in violation of the commandments…it is a belief system based on enslavement and a god who contradicts himself and is irrational. Or a god that creates things he hates, or hates most of mankind for not following Muhammed.

    Those Muslims who are moderated are actually Christianized without realizing it.

    A Muslim in most cases is now allowed to study salvation history let alone the Catechism which is faith in tradition of understanding and practice.

    You can draw line down the middle and see most profound contradictions between Christ and the claims of Muhammed — who had no witnesses.

    I prefer Life over death and destruction and falsehood.

  • Julie

    Well, you are certainly asking mine and assuming I am so afraid.

    Actually what I am afraid of evil men who play god, who decide who lives and who dies….and just the effect of evil as we recall September 11………..

  • Julie

    Again….I am not afraid of such a position……..that is your perception and you assume I have little education in the secular sense, when in fact most of my life have attended secular schools and universities.

    So what is your belief system and what scares you?

  • Randy Wanat

    I have made no assumption regarding education. What scares me is entirely irrelevant. Not sure what you mean by belief system. If you mean religion, none. I see nothing about any religion that is compelling or that increases our understanding of reality. Any good that can come from religion can come from secular means as well.

  • Randy Wanat

    Remember that it was people who were 100% sure that their interpretation of their religion was correct, and that their religious beliefs were absolutely true, who committed those acts. They were convinced that it was impossible that their beliefs were in any way in error.

  • Randy Wanat

    All of which depends entirely on the presupposition that Christianity is true. You can’t begin with the conclusion and work your way back. At least, not if you’re being intellectually honest.

  • MarcAlcan

    I totally disagree with the author’s take on “The Dangers of Reason Alone”. The example she gives (Richard Dawkins) is one who is almost incapable of philosophical exercise. He is almost incapable of making logical arguments.
    Atheism is in fact bankrupt as an intellectual endeavour.

  • MarcAlcan

    Quite the contrary. The Church is even more relevant now that despair permeates our culture.
    You seem to think that relevance means acceptance by the great majority. But that is not the case.
    Furthermore, the Church did not lose direction because of the child abuse cases. The child abuse cases is the symptom of a Church that has given in to the world.

    And yet far too often, those who would lambast the Church recommend that the way forward is for her to conform herself more to the world.

    It is stupid to say that to propose the True, the Good and the Beautiful is navel gazing. It is like the case of drug addicts. The drug addict may think that rehab is not relevant even though that is the only way for him to get out of his slavery.

  • Julie

    So you live in the here and now.

    What you need to do is to go back to ancient culture.

    It is Christianity that gave women and children and slaves — that was the culture then — the dignity that they are human beings, of the same value as men.

    And actually, the model the world now sees as good is based on the Catholic model of charity.

    And going back, it was the Catholic Church that established agriculture, irrigation standards for the surrounding populations — here referring to the Dark Ages…when monasteries began to flourish and the ‘Dark Ages’ was referring to continual bombardment of barbarian invasions, to providing schools and founding the first universities for the common people.

    Mexico was the center of learning for the New World, had native Indian professors teaching at their universities in the 1500’s, gave women and girls the right to an education in the same period, while it took the USA hundreds of years to catch up.

    Rodney Stark, a non Catholic, came out with a book this past May, ‘Bearing False Witness…’ in regards to the spins that have been embraced by English speaking peoples for hundreds of years.

    So I cannot call religion, true religion that is, as nothing.

    The USA has the greatest number of beliefs systems in the world, and alot of propaganda against the Catholic Church, has always been here, part of the fabric.

    The true Church is ‘He Ekklesia Katolika’….the Universal Church so named by St, Ignatius of Antioch on his way to martyrdom in 107 AD. The Universal Church is comprised of apostolic succession of the Church of Jerusalem, Alexander in Egypt, Antioch in Turkey, Rome, and Constantinople, which was practically resurrected in the early 300’s after being almost wiped out in 302.

    These patriarchs use the same Scripture — the Septuagint tradition which is the most accurate and that which Our Lord and His apostles referenced, the liturgy, our worship….you can read St. Justin the Martyr’s letter to the Roman Emperor in 154 AD explaining what happens at Mass — its parts, spirit, tone and meaning the same today 2000 years later, the episcopal hierarchy and its successors set in place by the original apostles that exists, and is proven academically, up to today, and the foundation of our Creed….all in place by 100 AD.

    True Christianity is binding us to Christ, so it is Him animating good not ourselves.

    True Christianity is the fulfillment and completion of the purpose of God’s revelation to the Jewish people.

    And now it is the Church who is the living sacrament that continues after the last page of Sacred Scripture.

    So you need to also take into account empirical knowledge and you cannot do that without an understanding of what religion is…it is Latin, to bind, to look up….that is saving, redeeming and lifting up all of humanity.

    Hospitals, caring for the sick and dying off the streets, the dignity of women, children, and slave, and freedom from within, the establishment of schools and universities — this is the fruit of the Church.

    The Vatican Library is the greatest library in the world and it contains therein all those who lived their life for Christ and glorified Him through creation in philosophy, science, the arts, music, and so on.

    So you cannot really with any substance consider our belief…which is the Word Made Flesh, not bible alone, as irrelevant.

  • Julie

    By their works you shall know them……….

    Again, belief is based on empirical knowledge, and there thousands of years of the same experience…and the same results…irregardless of those who claim it but contradict it.

    Pray for the grace of faith.

  • Julie

    What you are seeing is American fragmentation.

  • Julie

    I showed you in a post this morning.

  • Randy Wanat

    So, you think the history of irrigation began less than 2000 years ago? Agriculture began less than 2000 years ago? Julie, I must ask you: where are you getting this version of history from? The Vatican’s historians would all – ALL – disagree with you, as would all historians, paleontologists, and archaeologists, except for the rare crank. But, nobody in their right mind thinks history played out as you’re describing it. I know you mean well, and your religion is important to you, but what you’re saying is just outright demonstrably false.

  • Randy Wanat

    Lots of people agreeing doesn’t make a claim true. By that logic, if a billion Muslims agree that Islam is true, and billions have agreed over the centuries, that means Islam is true. Do you base the veracity of a claim on how popular the claim is, or on how long it remains popular?

  • Randy Wanat

    You said it is impossible for your interpretation of your religion, or your religious beliefs, to be in error. You are 100% sure that you are correct, and no evidence can convince you otherwise.

    The people who flew planes into buildings 15 years ago thought it was impossible for their interpretation of their religion, or their religious beliefs, to be in error. They were 100% sure that they were correct, and no evidence could convince them otherwise.

    You brought them up. I merely compared your religious conviction to theirs.

  • Randy Wanat

    What? I made declarative statements. How this is a response confounds me. Care to try again?

  • Julie

    Of course not.

    And remember there is the Father of Genetics, Mendel.

  • Randy Wanat

    Science is not Christian. It is areligious. If a Christian makes paper airplanes, that doesn’t mean paper airplanes have anything to do with Christianity. Please, don’t be dishonest by pretending otherwise.

  • bluesuede

    Jesus Christ showed us that to follow Him, we would have to bear our cross, self-denial, to endure our suffering and surrender to His Will in all things. To die to ourselves, our own will. There is no Christianity without the sacred scripture,the words of God, that teaches us that the road to heaven is hard, but it is the royal road to salvation and eternal happiness. But Jesus tell us that when we do like Him, our burden will be light and easy.

  • Randy Wanat

    You’re preaching, not answering. What you’re saying is what you think sounds inspirational, but it’s got nothing to do with anything I said. Do you think you’d find it respectful if you asked a question of a Muslim and, rather than answer your question, he just preached about the holiness of Mohammed and how Islam is wonderful? Do you think it’s respectful to preach at me instead of converse with me? Do you realize that you’re just looking for chances to speak, rather than having an exchange of ideas? Do you care that you’re being disrespectful and paying no attention to what the other person is saying?

  • Julie

    You are starting to come across a certain way.

    A Jesuit was teaching us the empiricism is based on experience, and he speaks over 7 languages. His name is Fr Mitch Pacwa, and he is probably more intelligent than the two of us combined.

    Science is a discipline that can be practiced by anyone, including Christians.

    You are not acknowledging the realities I have shared with you that it was the Universal Christian Church that began to humanize the world, where the non religious world did not.

    There are Catholic authors who are providing us good books on history, as Mr. Hitchcock whose book also came out recently and you can find it on Amazon

    There are people out there who suffer for justice sake, who are pure of heart, who seek peace with all….the Beatitudes….that are expressions of the Kingdom. And then there are those who refuse all for the kingdom and give God their entire lives.

    Science and nobody, including yourself, can understand why people believe, or why others deny their entire selves and give all for Christ’s kingdom and will die for Him rather than renounce Him.

    Anyway, don’t want to wrangle…you didn’t show me any sources that outdid the Church. We don’t claim it for ourselves, the good that has been done, but rather in Christ alone.

    Faith is a grace feely given and we always have to ask for more of it.

    Seek peace, faith.

  • Julie

    You are operating with no standards of right vs wrong.

    The ten commandments were given thousands of years ago, complete, simple, straight forward.

    We call the other, subjective relativism. There is no absolute, no right or wrong, no standard, now no male or female.

  • Julie

    A muslim can be killed just for reading the Catholic catechism. If one leaves, his family will kill him.

    We had a young man who became Christian and was killed in our liberal city by two Somali Muslims…went over their heads.

  • Julie

    I think you are looking for a bone to pick. Nobody can make anyone believe…we are creatures…it is about your connection with the Creator, not me.

    People who do believe don’t need explanations…that usually are refuted and spinned out to a another dispute, on and on and on….

    Faith is certitude.

  • Randy Wanat

    Asserting something as fact doesn’t make it reality. You are trying to give it credit for things it has either never been proven to have done or has been proven not to have done. I have never seen any credible historian make claims one tenth as outlandish as what you’re proposing as historical fact. I strongly recommend you read a history book that does not have a cross on the cover.

  • Randy Wanat

    Is it absolutely wrong to kill another person?

  • Randy Wanat

    What did God say to do to apostates and people who didn’t believe in Yahweh as the one true deity? HINT: It involves killing them.

    If you’re trying to say that you’re more moral than certain Muslims because you choose to ignore the parts of your holy book that command you to kill people who aren’t of your religion, that’s a pretty low bar.

  • Randy Wanat

    Why would you think certainty is good if its explanations are refutable?

    More to the point, do you not acknowledge that the 9/11 hijackers were just as certain as you that their religion is true and that they, like you, thought it was impossible for their beliefs to be in error? Is belief without any room for the possibility that you could be incorrect an honest position for a fallible human being to take about anything?

  • bluesuede

    I’m sorry for you.

    If you are offended with the answer I gave for the evidence of what Christians believe because you asked, then the problem is deep and serious within you. You are not at peace and will never be at peace.

  • Randy Wanat

    None of that was evidence of anything. It was all claims that have never been corroborated.

    The Bible is the claim. It is not evidence supporting itself, nor are baseless assertions evidence. You wouldn’t accept preaching from a Muslim as evidence that the Koran is true, so why do you think I would accept your preaching as evidence that the Bible is true? Go back, reread the post you replied to, and then reread what you said. You will see that what you said did not answer my question. I asked for a method. You did not provide a method, you provided a mini-sermon.

  • bluesuede

    Faith needs no “corroboration”. The Holy Spirit boosts our faith if it seems to lag by the cares and distractions of this world. It is between only a person and God.

    We all are born with a body and a soul. Both need to be fed.

    If you starve your soul, you will always feel that something is missing. Like a vacuum, you will fill it with something else that never satisfies like the love for God that we are created for.

    I have no interest in comparing different religions bibles or holy text. Let them do what they do and let me do what I do. Religious freedom is a basic human right and free will is a gift from God that gives us choice.

    You can’t get answers to the supernatural with a material understanding and expect them to have the same answers to your questions.
    If you don’t like “preaching” then don’t ask questions about the spiritual.

  • Randy Wanat

    “Faith needs no ‘corroboration’.”

    Claims need corroboration. Assertions need corroboration. It’s fine that you believe something for which you seem to acknowledge you have no evidence, but the rational person requires evidence to accept claims as true.

    “The Holy Spirit boosts our faith if it seems to lag by the cares and distractions of this world. It is between only a person and God.”

    See, those are claims. For a rational person to take that seriously, evidence is required. What are credulity and gullibility, and why should those be desirable characteristics?

    “We all are born with a body and a soul.”

    Another claim, a factual claim about reality. If you can’t provide any evidence, I have no reason to accept it as true.

    Ganesha ate Yahweh. A claim that has no means of confirmation or falsification. Such claims are entirely useless.

    We all have three souls, with one going to Heaven or Hell, one going to Hades or the Elysium Fields, and the last going to Hel or Valhalla. A factual claim about reality that has no supporting evidence and no means of confirmation or falsification. Just as useless as you saying we are born with a soul. They are, structurally and factually, equal in truth value. Without corroborating the claims with evidence, your belief about a soul is just as legitimate as the three soul idea I just offered.

    Why should anybody take your claim more seriously than mine? How do you demonstrate that one soul is true and three is not, without merely citing the source of your claim?

  • bluesuede

    Look inside your own soul and ask yourself if you have all that you need and need nothing from faith. If you are satisfied with your answer, then you don’t need to be asking questions about something you don’t feel you need.

  • Human Being

    “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” – Jesus

  • Spiritual Ronin

    I’ve heard this comment many times but I can’t see its relevancy. Should I prefer my selfish desire for salvation over the suffering of the billions of living creatures? I don’t think so.

  • Spiritual Ronin

    These beliefs are precisely the reason why I have left the Church.

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