Posts Tagged ‘atheism’

Catholic Christian Answers to an Atheist

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Why Do We Follow Jesus as Catholic Christians?

Jesus taught that the greatest love is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13), and to love one another as he loved us (John 13:34). By His willing acceptance of human suffering and death, Jesus transformed and transcended the meaning of suffering and death.

Jesus’ “New Commandment” to love as he loved could not simply have evolved to radical altruism through a biological process, where altruism arises to a point, but could only have been revealed–introduced as something completely new–as a Divine Gift by Jesus.

This love-teaching of Jesus is an historic fact in human culture.

We Catholic Christians remember Jesus’ New Commandment of Love both in the way we live and in our celebration of the Eucharist. By consuming the Body and Blood of Christ in the appearance of consecrated bread and wine as a living, present, continuing act of Love, we declare our unity with this Love, Who is God. In so doing, we proclaim the Resurrection of Christ.

The Catholic Church is first of all the sacrament–both a sign and an instrument–of the unity of the human race in union with God (Lumen Gentium, Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 1). We believe that we are not the slaves of God, but his friends (John 15:15). This friendship and freedom are God’s gift to us.

In believing in Jesus and in sharing in his Church as Catholic Christians, we listen to the truth which makes us free (John 8:32). To reveal this truth and freedom Jesus suffered death and rose from the dead for our sake, and gave us the gift of His Church.

Hope requires trust in that which greater than ourselves–not in the state, which in the end can enslave–but in God, Who frees.

Without this Christ and His Church, there would be no transcendence of suffering and death, no hope of human unity, no hope of eternal life, no hope that the poor in spirit will be blessed, or that the meek will inherit the earth, or that the merciful will obtain mercy, or that those who hunger and thirst for justice will be satisfied (Matthew 5:5). Those who reject belief in God and His Church risk rejecting these good things. In the end, the atheist to be consistent must reject also the Beatitudes.

A world without the living Love of Jesus Christ is a world without hope of overcoming slavery, strife, despair, and violence.

Science is necessary to offer healing to a point, but cannot offer lasting hope, nor a sure path to human unity without another failed and destructive attempt at totalitarian government–since to enforce universal atheism will once again require totalitarianism.

Belief should not reject science. Far from it. Neither does science contradict belief. But science has yet to demonstrate that it can in and of itself overcome pseudo-science. The (1) persistence of quackery in medicine (witness daytime TV and late-night infomercials, and intellectual thralldom to the unproved theories of Freud for the better part of a century), the (2) politicization of the social sciences which have weakened science as a positive force, and (3) continuing breaches of scientific ethics at universities all speak to the reality of science as an imperfect work in progress, not as a finished product.

Today both Christian belief and science are weakened forces, but both still seek truth. It is possible, and desirable, to embrace Christian belief while respecting and practicing science.

Once one recognizes that there is an aspect of Love that is transcendent, beyond what science can explain, one has entered into the truth of belief in God.

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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In Hac Lacrimarum Valle: The Enduring Dark Age Revealed

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

The notion of the “Dark Age,” after its coinage by Petrarch at the dawn of the Renaissance, may well have been propelled by later Reformation retrojectors–those projecting their own current views into the past–to blow at the candles illuminating Medieval culture so that the Reformation might better shine.

Modernity, post-modernity, and other contemporary cultural forces have especially resisted the words of the Medieval hymn to Mary, the Salve Regina, “gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle,” translated “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,” which is thought to have its origins in St. Jerome’s rendering of Psalm 83:7 (84:7)–

6 Beatus vir cujus est auxilium abs te:
ascensiones in corde suo disposuit,
7 in valle lacrimarum, in loco quem posuit.

Vulgate Psalms, Chapter 83, accessed from http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/vul/psa083.htm on 8/10/14.

–and which is now in many contemporary translations rendered as the “valley of Baca” instead of the valley of tears.

Contemporary Christians and agnostics likewise often reject the term, “valley of tears.” Garry Wills omitted the Salve Regina ending from his book on the Rosary (Catholics normally end their praying of the Rosary with the Salve Regina). The “valley of tears,” like St. John Paul II’s term “culture of death” from Evangelium Vitae, appears to make the progressive mind uncomfortable.

But I challenge contemporary thinkers to find a better expression to describe the terrible circumstances of those suffering from war, persecution, or poverty, than the “valley of tears.”

Scripture scholars have puzzled over the meaning of the Hebrew word Baca for centuries. Is it a place in Palestine, or a figurative state of sorrow?

In Arabic, Bakkah has a more precise meaning, the place of the sacred Kaaba in Mecca.

So those who suffer around the world today are indeed cast into the valley of tears, and into the collision of words and cultures–Baca, Bakkah–between Christian, Jewish, and Muslim interpretations.

Slavery has returned: it never left, but now is visible to the contemporary eye.

Yet can the contemporary eye fathom the meaning of the Enduring Dark Age that has exploded in our faces? What difference do progressivism, modernity, atheism, theory, narrative, etc., matter to Isis and their ilk? Atheists preaching their advantages to such a world merely sow into the wind. Can these violent fanatical forces be defeated by armies shaped today more to generate social change at home than the proper protective mission of a military force?

Fueled by almost a century of first Nazi and then Soviet anti-Semitic propaganda, a militant Islam is at war with the United States and Israel. Russia, Iran, and China are ready to pounce on their first geopolitical opportunities, and have an interest in prolonging the conflict. This general situation may not change for centuries.

Welcome, therefore, to the Enduring Dark Age, or if you prefer, the uncovering of a Dark Age that never really ended, but in which “enlightened” technological society collides with genocide, forced conversion, summary execution, and slavery–now made painfully visible by global communications, and catalyzed by the global proliferation of weapons down to the mad and genocidal local bully.

As long as hearts are darkened by hatred and fear despite our sophistication, and as long as the guns are not silenced, our age will darken still.

Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae. . .

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy. . .

Perhaps we can find hope and consolation in the words of the Psalmist beginning with–

How lovely your dwelling, O Lord of Hosts! (Psalm 84:1)

–and hear in the confluence of the contested words Baca and Bakkah the ending of tears and the presence of God.

O Clemens, O Pia, O Dulcis Virgo Maria!

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LIV

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Despite pretensions of a scientific mindset, contemporary atheism clings to at least three critical illusions:

1. Naive nineteenth-century materialism.

Contemporary atheism does not dwell intellectually within twenty-first century complexity and uncertainty as informed by modern physics and scientific economics, but within the illusory Victorian certainty and simplicity of Darwin, Marx, and Mill.

2. A Ptolemaic emotional universe.

Contemporary atheism fancies itself to be the intellectual heir of Galileo, but instead it is the emotional heir of Ptolemy: In the end, atheism assumes that the universe revolves around the atheist.

3. Puritanism without God.

Modern atheism has shed God but not Puritanism, and thus tends to assume a fractured perfectionism:

Such atheism goes to great lengths to care for the body, but then in the end alters the human metabolism with powerful birth-control or libido-enhancing drugs.

Such atheism will not let a politically incorrect thought enter its presence, yet demeans those with whom it disagrees in the coarsest of terms.

Since atheism does not believe in a soul, in the end it acts as if it has none.

Such atheism makes atheists the dry-drunks of Puritanism.

For a different view from that of atheism, see the work of Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Reasons for a Creator from Physics and Philosophy

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Is it too early to speak of post-atheism?

Move over, Prof. Dawkins. Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ has written an amazing contemporary exposition, New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics.

To those who have read Richard Dawkins and are one step away from or two steps into becoming atheists, think again, if you wish to make a fully-informed and reasonable decision. Fr. Spitzer’s book comes as both a challenge and a very sophisticated alternative.

Along with Stephen M. Barr’s Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, Fr. Spitzer’s book joins in undermining the intellectual foundations of atheism.

If you have committed to atheism and not read these books, you may have jumped too soon.

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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