Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sophism- it's not just for teenagers anymore

Because I know the conversation at Public Catholic is drifting outside of Rebecca Hamilton's comfort zone, and because Bill S. does comment here from time to time, I'm going to pick up our conversation where we left off with a couple of comments from Bill that I expect to disappear soon:

I disagree. Any or all of Catholicism can be false. Yet, people will benefit from following its rules, regardless of whether its teachings are true or not. Otherwise, Catholicism would not be where it is today.

Like with science, the test of the rules are IF THEY WORK. Do they provide an accurate picture of human behavior that can be used for prediction? At one point in my journey, when I was drifting away from the Church, I would have said no, they don't provide an accurate enough picture, even merely for allowing people to benefit from those teachings.

Several experiences, particularly with the virtue of Chastity and violations thereof, have convinced me otherwise, so completely that I'm willing to say that no, Catholicism can't be false. The final clue though, for me, was in Nostra Aetate, at the end of the fifth paragraph in section 2, when it is giving a discussion on how the Church views morality, and I suddenly realized that this is where science started, and that theology really is the King of all Science.

There are myths that have no historical truth to them but work nonetheless because people believe them and/or learn from them.

Truth is bigger than history. In more high theology terms- dogma is truth, doctrine is what we can discover about dogma through the light of human reason and the historical perspective, and MYTH IS DISCIPLINE.

A long time ago I read a novel written by an anti-Catholic, a story about an archeologist who claimed to disprove the Resurrection because he had found the body of Jesus. The hoax was exquisite- it even included using ashes found in a campfire in a different dig on the same era to create an ink that would carbon date correctly.

That novel forced me to ask myself the question- does the Resurrection really matter to my Catholicism? Like my earlier tussle with the concept of Hell, in which I came up with the confounding phrase I've often used since then on fundamentalists and atheists alike "If my Lord Jesus Christ decides that I should go to Hell for His Glory, then I shall gladly go", I decided no, the historical event of the Resurrection, while I'm pretty sure it did happen due to eyewitness evidence maintained even under torture and certain death, really doesn't mean that much to my faith. It could be a myth created by the Essenes to promote their version of Jewish Gnosticism, and it would still contain all of the lessons that I need to learn from it about self-sacrifice and perseverance. As a Knight of Columbus, I took an oath to carry the cross- but if that cross is just a metaphor, does it really change what I need to do in charity? No, it doesn't.

Katholikos means universal. If there is any hope for a universal morality at all, it must be rational as well as believeable. NONE of the competitors that I've studied so far, and there have been many, hold a candle to Catholicism as far as rationality is concerned, as far as universality is concerned. Atheism comes close, but as we're learning in the third world, isn't universal enough. Other forms of Christianity are equally faith based, but aren't rational enough, and with 32,000 competing theologies, aren't universal enough. Buddhism is the next closest- but just like Christ summed up the ten commandments into two, I can sum up the eightfold path into "expect bad things to happen, and you'll always be right".

Only Catholicism embraces the radical theology that eventually became the scientific method, to become truly universal, and so with Pope Paul VI I must proclaim
Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.


Theodore Seeber said...

"Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself."

In terms of a real universal truth, you could call that the heresy of Catholicism. In fact, each and every religion is actually a separate heresy. Each has its own leader or god and each is a well intentioned but misguided attempt at being recognized as the universal truth. You can even list atheism as one of the heresies. Add all the heresies identified by the Catholic Church and put them all at the same level including Catholicism (as opposed to representing Catholicism as the trunk of the tree and all other religions as branches leading to "the way, the truth and the life").

Theodore Seeber said...

I like that, all religion is heresy. You're coming closer to understanding, though you're not there yet, because you apparently don't understand the scientific method well enough.

When you understand that you are a heretic, then you can begin to travel back to Orthodoxy, not before.

Eventually you will realize that not all heresies are "on the same level". Some are significantly worse than others. And the main thing that sets apart the better ones is not specific doctrine, but longevity. Truth lives, lies die.

Theodore Seeber said...

"When you understand that you are a heretic, then you can begin to travel back to Orthodoxy, not before."

That presumes that the real, honest to goodness truth about life in this universe is contained in Catholic Orthodoxy, which it obviously is not, despite how you wish it were. No. Catholic Orthodoxy is no more true in describing the Big Picture than any of the heresies or other religions. They all fall short of describing what we have learned from science. You have to look at the most up-to-date information not at ancient legends. There is no comparison.

Theodore Seeber said...

It Obviously Is. It's far more true, anyway, than atheism. It is far more true than the 200 other religions that I looked at, which were mostly local.

And the reason is because the most "up to date" information is usually a lie, designed to take advantage of gullible idiots.

Theodore Seeber said...

"the most "up to date" information is usually a lie, designed to take advantage of gullible idiots."

That's just a nonsensical statement that fails to domonstrate that Catholics understand anything about what life is all about.

Theodore Seeber said...

No, it isn't. Let's take transgender. The conventional up-to-date information says gender is a matter between your brain and your surgeon.

Reality says no matter what cosmetic surgery you get, you can't change that Y chromosome.

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Oustside The Asylum by Ted Seeber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at http://outsidetheaustisticasylum.blogspot.com.