Jeff Harmsen, aka The Epicurean Jesus, aka, the Village Atheist, has been engaged in a running discussion with me in the comments sections of this blog. Something in his latest instalment, I think, is important enough to place as a new blog entry, as clearing it up may be of some spiritual help to others.
“Of course churches peddle heaven and hell as real places. As soon as J.P2 published his revelation it became taboo to discus the matter. I bet the vast majority of Christians believe heaven and hell are real.”
“Whoa, Steve you have contradicted yourself big time. In our other debate you concede there is no heaven and hell. In this post, you say these fantasies are real?”
I gather that Jeff (hereafter EJ) cannot see the difference between the terms “physical” and “real.” This is Scientism at work. The Pope pointed out, as EJ had actually accurately quoted, that heaven and hell are not physical places. EJ has apparently taken this to mean they are not “real,” a very different concept.
In fact, the philosophical school known historically as “realism,” a Medieval scholastic position, held that the physical world was illusory.
Real (OED): “1 actually existing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.”
Physical (OED): “1 relating to the body as opposed to the mind. 2 relating to things perceived through the senses as opposed to the mind.”
To illustrate the difference: love may be real or not real, but never a physical entity.
Now to other matters:
It is possible to live without sex, especially if someone has a low drive. However, it is not natural. This partially explains why so many priests molest children. Anyone with a normal sex drive will be climbing the walls if they go too long without sex.
This is both statistically untrue and illogical. Statistically, child molestation is no more common among celibate priests than among, for example, married non-Catholic clergy, or married secular schoolteachers. This is strong evidence that celibacy has nothing to do with molestation. Moreover, it makes no sense to imagine it could: if the problem is a lack of sex with women, it would presumably be expressed by having sex with women, not with minors—a far riskier enterprise.
I don't have to argue with great philosophers re God's existence. It's amazing how far someone can go with an argument based on a false premise. Everyone of their agumnets is based on knowing the Bible, a book that is loaded with erroneous content.
You seem convinced beyond the reach of evidence that there is no sign of God outside the Bible. The great philosophers demonstrate God’s existence from first principles, without reference to it. Aristotle, whom I've already cited, even lived before the Bible was written.
I don't think you understand the importance of epistemology. Be a detective for a moment. You have three witnesses who claim to know who killed someone. You ask all three: "How do you know Bob killed Fred?"
Witness one: "Because an invisible pink elephant told me Bob did it!"
Witness two: "Because witness one told me Bob did it!"
Witness three: "Because I saw Bob stick a knife into Fred's heart."
By your way of thinking Steve, Witnesses one and two are just as reliable as witness three because you take the word of the bible and those who preach it.
You miss a fourth possibility: “Because I am Bob.” That is vastly more compelling in a court of law, and much stronger proof, than any of your alternatives.
The proof of God, as Descartes, for example, demonstrated, is even one step nearer to certainty than that.
The Muslims believe in another Bible, another book of myth. Both Christianity and Islam are based on the Old Testament.
[EJ had claimed that God as a concept would not even occur to us but for the Bible]
Muslims do not accept the Old Testament. And Muslims, mind, are not the only non-Christians who believe in a supreme godhead. So do Hindus, Native Indians, Sikhs, Daoists, and so on. Indeed, anthropologists claim that all cultures seem to have the concept of a Supreme God, including “polytheistic” ones.
Re "Do not put God to the test." This is an excellent example of mind control (otherwise known as brainwashing). On the one hand, believers are told to pray, that something magical can come of it.
You are not catching the difference between religion and magic. Religion involves humility before the spiritual--worship. Magic is an attempt to control the spiritual for personal ends.
Putting God to the test is the latter, and is antithetical to religion by its nature.
Another brilliant piece of nonsense is "The Lord works in Mysterious ways." You could say this about anything, so it means nothing.
Really? “Paper clips work in mysterious ways?”
Doesn’t work for me.
You think tricking people with the placebo effect is legit? So then selling snake oil as a panacea is perfectly fine in your world. From my perspective, taking money from people after lying about a product or service is a from of stealing. We have laws against false advertising. Churches break these laws on a daily bases.
If you have a beef here, you have it with the medical profession. Doctors rely on the placebo effect daily. Churches rarely use it, or even claim to heal.
And, if it heals you, how is it fraudulent?
EJ had claimed that Jesus was not born on Christmas; I asked how he knew this.
Based on references in the Bible re sheep, Jesus was born in the spring. The whole story of how Christmas came to be on Dec. 25 is quite facinating. The Pagans worshipped the sun and so they celebrated three days around the winter solstice.
That was certainly a factor in deciding when to celebrate. But there’s more to the story than that. The December date also corresponds with some other, known dates in the Bible and early church tradition—of Jesus’s presentation in the Temple, of the Annunciation. But when you don’t know exactly when, why not put it on Saturnalia?
We have to give Jesus et el. a break. He knew nothing of astronomy or evolution. Delusion and superstition ran more rampant in his day than it does today.
Can you be sure? Or is it that we are only able to see the “superstitions” of others?
Atheism is not based on delusions like religion, it's based on rational thought.
What a coincidence; so is Catholicism. And Buddhists say the same.
Indeed, I imagine most would say about the same about their own religion.
There are examples of atheistic despots. However, they are missing the other half of a peaceful ideology: humanism. There is no example in history of an atheistic humanist who practices tyrany.
Humanism (OED): 1 a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.
I’m afraid both Marxism and Fascism fit. You have to take responsibility for Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and the two Kims.
Humanism does not mean “humane.”
When a priest gives wine to his congregation, he is doing it under the false pretext that the wine is the actual blood of Christ.
This is a lie. Place the wine under a microscope and you will not find the blood of a dead man.
Why would you? Jesus is not dead.
As St. Thomas Aquinas explains it in the Summa Theologica, what you see under the microscope are still the accidents of the thing, not its substance. The substance of any thing is not what is sensed about it, because any single thing sensed about it is somewhat arbitrary. Is blood red? Not of its own nature; because if you put it under different lights, it appears blue or black or purple. Does it possess a given mass or weight? Not really; its weight very much depends on the temperature at which you store it. So what inheres in it of its own nature? Nothing that is visible, it seems, but only some imperceptible essence, "bloodness," of which its accidents or specific qualities are only hints or clues.
It is this that, in the wine, becomes the blood of Christ, and not any of its accidents.
So to look for the essence of anything with a microscope is like trying to count angels on the head of a pin.