Author Topic: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty  (Read 1437 times)

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2018, 04:21:18 PM »
Quare: Those of us who do not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of Catholicism are not formally Catholic, right? 

What is a person to do, if they have gone to Mass for 40 years, made around 2000 holy communions, around 200 confessions, was confirmed, has consciously tried to avoid deliberate venial sin for years, has done daily mental prayer for over a decade....and yet still does not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of his faith?  Do you really believe, Quare, that such a person should stop doing all of it, and keep the whole Catholic thing on ice until he receives the illumination of epistemic certainty?



« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 11:54:04 AM by St. Columba »
 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2018, 07:36:51 PM »
Another question for Quare:  Did you receive the grace of absolute certainty regarding the truth of the faith before or after you realized that absolute certainty is a requirement in order to have true faith?
 

Offline Xavier

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2018, 06:57:13 AM »
St. Columba, firstly, you won't find anywhere in Tradition the idea that all and each of the faithful must wait for an interior mystical experience before they have firm certitude in their Faith - and I don't think even Quare would go that far, though he can answer for himself; secondly,  while it's true that the virtue of faith tends to produce certitude in us, which is fitting because certitude belongs to the perfection of the intellect, St. Thomas says; it's also not true that you lose the Faith as soon as you have some passing doubt against it. To lose the Faith, you must sin mortally against it, consciously, deliberately and gravely. For us Catholics it's enough to say as the father of the possessed man did, I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief. And we should pray to God to strengthen our faith.
An Offering to the Sacred Heart: "O divine Heart of Jesus, grant, I beseech Thee, eternal rest to the souls in purgatory, final grace and perseverance to all who are to die today, true repentance to sinners, the light of faith to pagans, Thy blessing to me and to all who are mine.

To Thee, O most loving Heart of Jesus, do I therefore commend all these souls, and for them I offer all Thy merits, together with the merits of the most Blessed Mother and of all the saints and angels, and also together with all the Sacrifices of the Mass, the Holy Communions, the prayers and good works that are made today throughout the entire Christian world."
 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #33 on: January 24, 2018, 07:47:42 AM »
Thanks Xavier for the post.  I am somwhat stuck because, although in the theoretical order Quare's conception of faith seems correct, in the practical order it does not.  On the one hand, I think the vast swaths of Catholics have "faith" that does not admit of absolute epistemic certainty (ie there is an unknown element present...there is a leap made); on the other hand, the idea that Catholicism could, in theory, be empirically falsified, seems an intolerable concession for a "believer" to make. 

John Lamb admitted the latter...the faith could, in theory, be falsified....and yet, in the next breath, he claims to have certainty.  But I think Arvinger (whom I highly respect) is wrong by saying he has certainty once he makes up his mind that Catholicism is true.  That act does not produce certainty!

So, again, I am really perplexed.  Absolute epistemic certainty seems necessary in order to have faith; on the other hand, if that is true, then virtually no one (if anyone does) has faith...including, anecdotally, many folks whom I know who have been practicing the faith for decades with meticulous observance.

Parenthetically, I do not believe Quare actually possesses the absolute certainty of faith he professes.  I know he will deny it.  But he did outline his chain of reasoning in this regard on this forum before, and I did not find it convincing.  But that is wonderful if he found it convincing for himself.  Really, I mean that. 
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 07:54:38 AM by St. Columba »
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #34 on: January 24, 2018, 05:46:20 PM »
Quare: Those of us who do not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of Catholicism are not formally Catholic, right? 

What is a person to do, if they have gone to Mass for 40 years, made around 2000 holy communions, around 200 confessions, was confirmed, has consciously tried to avoid deliberate venial sin for years, has done daily mental prayer for over a decade....and yet still does not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of his faith?  Do you really believe, Quare, that such a person should stop doing all of it, and keep the whole Catholic thing on ice until he receives the illumination of epistemic certainty?

Yes, he should pray for the grace of faith.

Another question for Quare:  Did you receive the grace of absolute certainty regarding the truth of the faith before or after you realized that absolute certainty is a requirement in order to have true faith?

After.

Look, theologians can't have it both ways.  Either epistemic certainty is necessary for faith or it is not.  If it is not, then they can't say doubting and further investigations are sins against faith, since there is a possibility in your mind all this is bunk.  If it is, then they will simply have to bite the bullet and admit that some who seem to have faith in reality do not.

Anyway, I'll start a new thread on epistemology of faith where we can discuss this in a lot more detail.
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #35 on: January 24, 2018, 06:01:08 PM »
John Lamb admitted the latter...the faith could, in theory, be falsified....and yet, in the next breath, he claims to have certainty. 

That's because of the nature of the certainty which faith gives.

Say a man is accused of cheating on his wife. There is no proof either that he did or did not commit adultery. He begs his wife to believe that he did not commit adultery; in the absence of evidence, the wife chooses to believe on faith that her husband is telling the truth. If she says, "I am certain" or "I believe with certainty that he did not cheat on me", is she lying? She believes with certainty because of her trust in her husband, just as we believe with certainty because of our trust in Christ and His Church; though we do not have absolutely certain proof for what we believe, we believe with certainty because of the firmness of our trust.
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #36 on: January 24, 2018, 06:35:38 PM »
That's because of the nature of the certainty which faith gives.

Say a man is accused of cheating on his wife. There is no proof either that he did or did not commit adultery. He begs his wife to believe that he did not commit adultery; in the absence of evidence, the wife chooses to believe on faith that her husband is telling the truth. If she says, "I am certain" or "I believe with certainty that he did not cheat on me", is she lying? She believes with certainty because of her trust in her husband, just as we believe with certainty because of our trust in Christ and His Church; though we do not have absolutely certain proof for what we believe, we believe with certainty because of the firmness of our trust.

That doesn't make sense.  First of all, the wife is only claiming a relative certainty, whereas we are claiming an absolute one.  So no, she's not lying, but she isn't claiming an absolutely infallible certainty.

Now if Christ and His Church are who they claim to be, we have absolutely certain proof of everything else we believe.  If Christ and His Church are possibly not who they claim to be, then why trust them?
 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2018, 09:51:44 AM »
Quare: Those of us who do not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of Catholicism are not formally Catholic, right? 

What is a person to do, if they have gone to Mass for 40 years, made around 2000 holy communions, around 200 confessions, was confirmed, has consciously tried to avoid deliberate venial sin for years, has done daily mental prayer for over a decade....and yet still does not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of his faith?  Do you really believe, Quare, that such a person should stop doing all of it, and keep the whole Catholic thing on ice until he receives the illumination of epistemic certainty?

Yes, he should pray for the grace of faith.

And stop going to mass in the meantime?  Would you council that if you were a spiritual director?  For example, should Arvinger stay home next Sunday, given that his faith evidently lacks absolute epistemic certainty?  (not to pick on Arvinger, of course...just to make the point more vivid)
 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2018, 02:34:27 PM »
Now if Christ and His Church are who they claim to be, we have absolutely certain proof of everything else we believe.

I think it is not a priori impossible for God to assume a human nature and not subsequently establish a religion on earth.

On another front, nor does it infallibly follow that the existence of a true and deep desire for union with God, even of the most intimate variety possible for a creature, necessitates him having assumed, or in the future assuming, the nature of that creature.

If Christ and His Church are possibly not who they claim to be, then why trust them?

Because they are most likely who they claim to be?  We humans still need to make acts of trust in the absence of epistemic certainty.  Arvinger and John Lamb, and perhaps even Xavier are doing just that.

Should my 8 year old son delay his first communion?  He might say be believes that the host is God, but I highly doubt he will profess infallible certainty (besides, there is the off chance the priest furtively uses a gluten free wafer)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 02:44:07 PM by St. Columba »
 

Offline Xavier

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2018, 04:49:57 AM »
Quare: Those of us who do not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of Catholicism are not formally Catholic, right? 

What is a person to do, if they have gone to Mass for 40 years, made around 2000 holy communions, around 200 confessions, was confirmed, has consciously tried to avoid deliberate venial sin for years, has done daily mental prayer for over a decade....and yet still does not have absolute epistemic certainty in the truth of his faith?  Do you really believe, Quare, that such a person should stop doing all of it, and keep the whole Catholic thing on ice until he receives the illumination of epistemic certainty?

Yes, he should pray for the grace of faith.

And stop going to mass in the meantime?  Would you council that if you were a spiritual director?  For example, should Arvinger stay home next Sunday, given that his faith evidently lacks absolute epistemic certainty?  (not to pick on Arvinger, of course...just to make the point more vivid)

Even if he counsels it, please don't follow that advice and stop going to Mass or communion.

Grace produces the certitude when we yield full submission of mind and will to God, St. Columba, while reason must co-operate with faith, and has several external and objective grounds like miracles to do so; this is the epistemology of faith described by Pope St. Pius X, St. Thomas and St. John Damascene; those who say we have not personally seen Christ work miracles, otherwise we would believe in Him, are wrong; Christ has worked miracles in His Church, like Eucharistic miracles and those on the Shroud of Turin demonstrating His Resurrection and others which have left visible effects up to the present day. It is necessary to believe in Him without doubting, if that is already in our power, or to ask grace to be enabled to do so, without stopping Mass or communion, since involuntary doubt is not sinful. The Church explains faith and certitude in the Oath against Modernism. Empirical attempts to "falsify the Faith" are wrongheaded.

"God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world ... acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion ... hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith ... is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our creator and lord."
An Offering to the Sacred Heart: "O divine Heart of Jesus, grant, I beseech Thee, eternal rest to the souls in purgatory, final grace and perseverance to all who are to die today, true repentance to sinners, the light of faith to pagans, Thy blessing to me and to all who are mine.

To Thee, O most loving Heart of Jesus, do I therefore commend all these souls, and for them I offer all Thy merits, together with the merits of the most Blessed Mother and of all the saints and angels, and also together with all the Sacrifices of the Mass, the Holy Communions, the prayers and good works that are made today throughout the entire Christian world."
 
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Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2018, 03:12:46 PM »
Grace produces the certitude when we yield full submission of mind and will to God

I am stuck right there.  You seem to be talking about certitude as a state of mind, not epistemic certitude.  Also, who is to say that grace will, necessarily and infallibly, "catch-up" by producing intellectual certitude attendant with a submission of the will by those who chose to believe?

People make decisions to submit their wills and intellects to false religions the world over.  Those acts do not produce certitude, clearly.  Ah, but WE know that objectively Catholicism is true, etc....

Quare is already aware of all of this.  I am sure he thoroughly dissected it in his head over a decade ago.  This is so old hat for him.  And yet...

 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #41 on: January 28, 2018, 03:11:03 PM »
Look, theologians can't have it both ways.  Either epistemic certainty is necessary for faith or it is not.  If it is not, then they can't say doubting and further investigations are sins against faith, since there is a possibility in your mind all this is bunk.
Fascinating!  :)

So, Quare, if you don't have absolute epistemic certainty, then you cannot truly be culpable for sins against faith?

Let us again take the case of Arvinger.  He outlined his epistemology of faith.  It clearly lacked epistemic certitude, as there was a "leap" involved.  Are you saying that if he knowingly and deliberately doubted the doctrine of the Trinity today, that there would be no sin?

Why stop there? No sin to miss Mass on Sunday....etc...

So, to recap: If a person lacks quarist epistemic certitude, they should abandon the practice of their religion until the certitude is granted them, and they are not culpable for sins against faith in the meantime?  So, not only can they miss Mass next Sunday, but should?
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 03:14:49 PM by St. Columba »
 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #42 on: January 28, 2018, 03:23:50 PM »
Come to think of it, if the mind does not have certainty, does not reason itself dictate that the mind should remain open to differing options then?

So, if I do not have infallible epistemic certainty in the truth of the Catholic religion, reason demands that I act in a manner consistent with that....ie, consistent with what I know.  In other words, reason demands that I should adhere to skepticism.

Is that where this is going, Quare, my friend?
 
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Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #43 on: January 28, 2018, 05:01:21 PM »
And why pray for the grace to see that Catholicism, specifically, is certainly true Quare?  I think under your system, it would make more sense to simply pray to see which religion is true, prior to certainty.  Furthermore, under your system, one should not pray at all, unless and until the person is infallibly convinced that God exists first.

Just a disclaimer....I am exploring the consequences and implications of what you are saying.  I don't necessarily "believe" any of what I am writing myself. 
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 05:03:17 PM by St. Columba »
 

Offline St. Columba

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Re: Empirically Disproving a Religion and Epistemic Certainty
« Reply #44 on: January 28, 2018, 05:14:21 PM »
Perhaps you have a tough choice here, to answer these questions.  On the one hand, you might believe that a person who does not have absolute certainty should not practice the faith until they do...but by publically defending that position, you could very well face the penalty of leading innocent souls away from the faith (better to put a millstone around your neck?).  But it does force you to put your money where your mouth is....And I would not care to estimate the degree of guilt incurred for someone who knows with absolute certitude that it is all true.  But then again, truth is truth right?

You are not one to run from your positions.  But in this case, silence might be wiser...