Suscipe Domine Traditional Catholic Forum

The Church Courtyard => Non-Catholic Discussion Subforum => Topic started by: Daniel on January 13, 2019, 01:21:10 PM

Title: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 13, 2019, 01:21:10 PM
As I understand it, the Church condemns hedonism on the grounds that hedonism does not lead to salvation.

But what about those of us who probably won't be saved anyway? Seeing as there is no road to salvation for us (the reprobate), and seeing as our damnation--if God wills it--is inevitable, why should we not spend our short lives doing whatever we want?

Should there not be a double standard?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on January 13, 2019, 02:05:48 PM
As I understand it, the Church condemns hedonism on the grounds that hedonism does not lead to salvation.

But what about those of us who probably won't be saved anyway? Seeing as there is no road to salvation for us (the reprobate), and seeing as our damnation--if God wills it--is inevitable, why should we not spend our short lives doing whatever we want?

Should there not be a double standard?

Hedonism, even if it does not lead to salvation, only leads to suffering.

See, God doesn't want you to go to Hell - but if you go to Hell, you bring it upon yourself by your decisions bringing your own suffering (John 3:16-21).


Do you think that the Hedonists in Hollywood are happy? Do you think the Kardashians are in a state of peace?

Who do you think has arrived at happiness - a Traditional Benedictine Monk who has found inner peace, or Demi Lovato?

You see it all around with all the various 12 Step Programs that Hedonism - whether it's alcoholism, heroin, cocaine, LSD, excessive sex, excessive eating, only leads to physical suffering and death.

The asceticism of traditional Christianity is the antidote - it leads to a certain type of bliss on Earth before Heaven.

Even if you "aren't saved," you can still experience happiness on Earth rather than additional suffering to your eternal suffering.
Even if God doesn't exist, you can still find peace while you are alive.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Michael Wilson on January 13, 2019, 02:16:18 PM
There is a saying among the moral theologians: "Wickedness is harmful for the wicked". That, following the road of sin and selfishness does not give us happiness, but makes us more unhappy and dissatisfied with life. There was an author in the 1960's that decided to follow what was then called "the Jet set"; very rich people that Jetted from place to place in a moving party; what he found was that these "bon vivants" were all bored to tears; and were themselves boring and shallow people, with no hope and no ideals, more than the next experience.
Secondly, there is no such thing as "the reprobate" while a man lives; God wills the salvation of all men, and gives all men the graces necessary to come to know and love Him so that they may live with Him in eternal happiness in Heaven.
If you refuse to serve God, but you still want at least a measure of natural happiness in this short life, get out of your own selfishness by volunteering to help others; be it by at a homeless shelter, rescue mission, community service, or even just by helping a neighbor shovel the snow of their sidewalk. Give money anonymously to family members, friends or random people that you perceive need it; contribute to a worthwhile charity like St. Jude's Children's hospital. If you spend more time doing good to others, you will see more goodness in yourself and in the goodness in others and hopefully this will lead you to the ultimate good which is God Himself.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Michael Wilson on January 13, 2019, 02:18:52 PM
There was a video on Youtube in which six hedonistic/atheistic/agnostics in England, spent 30 days in a Benedictine monastery, following the life of prayer and penance of the monks. They were all transformed for the better by the experience. This is something you could also try.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 13, 2019, 03:45:43 PM
Firstly, if you go by Catholic teaching, the increase of punishment in Hell. But you can't know that you will be damned, and I'm really sorry your post read as though you were talking about yourself.

But I could even draw an instructive parallel with something like Buddhism here. The soul of the hedonist becomes so absorbed in the self and attached to the sensual pleasures of the world, he really becomes like a parasite slowly killing his own host, always chasing new sources of pleasure as the old ones dry up and leave him empty, a path that inevitably leads to deeper debaucheries and down the dark hole of despair to a state of hell. Every "higher" form of paganism teaches the same thing regarding detachment and moderation, perhaps out of true experience or perhaps as the corrupted remnant of the original revelation to Adam.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: syllabus.errorum on January 13, 2019, 04:29:32 PM
As I understand it, the Church condemns hedonism on the grounds that hedonism does not lead to salvation.

But what about those of us who probably won't be saved anyway? Seeing as there is no road to salvation for us (the reprobate), and seeing as our damnation--if God wills it--is inevitable, why should we not spend our short lives doing whatever we want?

have you read the picture of dorian gray?

edit - formatting
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Heinrich on January 13, 2019, 04:48:22 PM
As I understand it, the Church condemns hedonism on the grounds that hedonism does not lead to salvation.

But what about those of us who probably won't be saved anyway? Seeing as there is no road to salvation for us (the reprobate), and seeing as our damnation--if God wills it--is inevitable, why should we not spend our short lives doing whatever we want?

have you readthe picture of dorian gray?

BOOM! Yes. Excellent answer, sir.  :cheeseheadbeer:

Edwardian literature can teach us much about the state of the material man consuming, consuming, consuming. The holy popes and bishops of this era were sounding the alarm bells to this.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 13, 2019, 05:36:02 PM
To clarify, when I said 'hedonism' I wasn't referring to the "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" sort of hedonism. Obviously that sort of hedonism leads only to suffering and could never work. But what about something more along the lines of what Epicurus taught? I don't know a whole lot about his philosophy, but what he said is that the gods are irrelevant, that we should not spend our lives fearing the gods nor should we live our lives trying to please the gods, but that we should live our lives for the end of pleasure. And by 'pleasure', what he meant was a sort of intellectual pleasure or joyfulness attained through temperance, not the intemperate bodily pleasure that comes through "sex, drugs, and rock and roll". It is believed that Epicurus lived according to his own theory and that he died a very painful yet pleasant death.


there is no such thing as "the reprobate" while a man lives; God wills the salvation of all men, and gives all men the graces necessary to come to know and love Him so that they may live with Him in eternal happiness in Heaven
But this is contrary to our everyday experience and also contrary to certain parts of scripture. We can only conclude that there are some men to whom God does not give grace, and that this "lack of giving" is God's own choice.


if you go by Catholic teaching, the increase of punishment in Hell.
I suppose that could be a motive, but it's sort of a tradeoff. Experience no pleasure at all, or experience some pleasure now and greater pain forever.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Michael Wilson on January 13, 2019, 07:05:13 PM
Re. "Reprobate"; But this is contrary to our everyday experience and also contrary to certain parts of scripture. We can only conclude that there are some men to whom God does not give grace, and that this "lack of giving" is God's own choice.


No, this is contrary to Catholic teaching and Sacred Scripture: God Himself tells us that He wills not the death of the sinner, but that He should be converted and live. That He leaves the 99 sheep to go searching for the lost one. That He stands at the door and knocks and if any man will open, He will come in a soup with him. etc. etc. That God creates some men, just to condemn them is a Calvinist, not Catholic doctrine.
re. "Every day experience"; no one can tell what goes on in the heart of even the most lost sinner; God is constantly calling him to repentance. Even a person who outwardly dies in the state of sin, can inwardly repent before his death, without showing any outward sign of remorse.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 13, 2019, 07:38:57 PM
Secondly, there is no such thing as "the reprobate" while a man lives

In an absolute sense, yes, there is.

Election and Reprobation are eternal decrees of God that play out in time. In Ludwig Ott's excellent manual Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Book 4, "The Doctrine of God the Sanctifier", Part I, "The Doctrine of Grace," Section 1, Chap. 3, concerning the Mystery of Reprobation, we read the following:

Quote
1. Concept and Realitv of Reprobation

By Reprobation is understood the eternal Resolve of God's Will to exclude certain rational creatures from eternal bliss. While God, by His grace, positively co-operates in the supernatural merits, which lead to beatification, He merely permits sin, which leads to eternal damnation. Regarding the content of the resolve of Reprobation, a distinction is made between positive and negative Reprobation, according as the Divine resolve of Reprobation has for its object condemnation to the eternal punishment of hell, or exclusion from the Beatific Vision. Having regard to the reason for Reprobation, a distinction is made between conditioned and unconditioned (absolute) Reprobation, in so far as the Divine resolve of Reprobation is depedent on, or independent of the prevision of future demerits.

GOD, BY AN ETERNAL RESOLVE OF HIS WILL, PREDESTINES CERTAIN MEN, ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR FORESEEN SINS, TO ETERNAL REJECTION. (DE FIDE.)

The reality of Reprobation is not formally defined, but it is the general teaching of the Church. The Synod of Valence (855) teaches: fatemur praedestinationem impiorum ad mortem (D 322). It is declared in Mt. 25, 41 : "Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels," and by Rom. 9, 22: "Vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction."

2. Positive Reprobation

a) Heretical Predestinationism in its various forms (the Southern Gallic priest Lucidus in the 5th century; the monk Gottschalk in the 9th century, according to reports of his opponents, which, however, find no confirmation in his recently re-discovered writings; Wycliffe, Huss, and especially Calvin), teaches a positive predetermination to sin, and an unconditional Predestination to the eternal punishment of hell, that is, without consideration of future demerits. This was rejected as false doctrine by the Particular Synods of Orange (D 200), Quiercy and Valence (D 316.322) and by the Council of Trent (D 827). Unconditioned positive Reprobation leads to a denial of the universality of the Divine Desire for salvation, and of the Redemption, and contradicts the Justice and Holiness of God as well as the freedom of man.

b) According to the teaching of the Church, there is a conditioned positive reprobation, that is, it occurs with consideration of foreseen future demerits (post et propter praevisa demerita).

The conditional nature of Positive Reprobation is demanded by the generality of the Divine Resolve of salvation. This excludes God's desiring in advance the damnation of certain men (cf. I Tim. 2, 4; Ez. 33, II ; 2 Peter 3, 9).

St. Augustine teaches: "God is good, God is just. He can save a person without good works, because He is good; but He cannot condemn anyone without evil works, because He is just" (Contra Jul. III 18, 35).

3. Negative Reprobation

In the question of Reprobation, the Thomist view favour not an absolute but only a negative Reprobation. This is conceived by most Thomists as non-election to eternal bliss (non-electio), together with the Divine resolve to permit some rational creatures to fall into sin, and thus by their own guilt to lose eternal salvation. In contrast to the absolute Positive Reprobation of the Predestinarians, Thomists insist on the universality of the Divine Resolve of Salvation and Redemption, the allocation of sufficient graces to the reprobate, and the freedom of man's will. However, it is difficult to find an intrinsic concordance between unconditioned non-election and the universality of the Divine Resolve of Salvation. In practice, the unconditioned negative Reprobation of the Thomists involves the same result as the unconditioned positive Reprobation of the heretical Predestinarians, since outside Heaven and Hell there is no third final state.

Properties of Reprobation

Like the Resolve of Predestination the Divine Resolve of Reprobation is immutable, but, without special revelation, its incidence is unknown to men.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on January 13, 2019, 10:24:42 PM
All of this gets into the timeless (har har) discussion over eternal God and our actions in time.  From the perspective in time there are no reprobates.  The just-baptized man is not reprobate until he falls and refuses to get back up.

An imperfect analogy (so don't bother needling it where its obviously to be needled): if you rewatch the 2018 football season the Eagles are not the Superbowl champs until that game is replayed.  Or if you want to put it back into time, the 2019 Superbowl Champs are not the Champs, even though God already knows who will win.

God knows what will happen.  Man chooses what he does.  Man has free will, yet God already knows.  Man will never be able to understand how this is possible.

Specifically turning back to the original question, the lives of the best pagans do not match up to the lives of the saints.

You will die one day.  I am not God and I absolutely know this will occur.  Does it thus follow that today it is wise to put yourself on the road to death?  Just because something will happen it does not thus follow you should give in to it.  The commandments are good for everyone to follow.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Michael Wilson on January 13, 2019, 11:27:08 PM
V.O. Stated:
Quote
In an absolute sense, yes, there is.

Election and Reprobation are eternal decrees of God that play out in time. In Ludwig Ott's excellent manual Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Book 4, "The Doctrine of God the Sanctifier", Part I, "The Doctrine of Grace," Section 1, Chap. 3, concerning the Mystery of Reprobation, we read the following:
And this is Ott's take on the "Thomistic" view of "negative reprobation":
Quote
However, it is difficult to find an intrinsic concordance between unconditioned non-election and the universality of the Divine Resolve of Salvation. In practice, the unconditioned negative Reprobation of the Thomists involves the same result as the unconditioned positive Reprobation of the heretical Predestinarians, since outside Heaven and Hell there is no third final state.
Of course, "negative reprobation" cannot be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of God's universal salvific will, so ultimately it must be rejected as untenable with said doctrine. So in the temporal order (which is what we are discussing), there are no reprobates.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 13, 2019, 11:55:05 PM
Of course, "negative reprobation" cannot be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of God's universal salvific will, so ultimately it must be rejected as untenable with said doctrine.

And yet it hasn't been rejected because you can't have election without reprobation.

It is a dogma of the faith that "God, by an eternal resolve of His will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection."
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Michael Wilson on January 14, 2019, 12:07:45 AM
Of course, "negative reprobation" cannot be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of God's universal salvific will, so ultimately it must be rejected as untenable with said doctrine.

And yet it hasn't been rejected because you can't have election without reprobation.

It is a dogma of the faith that "God, by an eternal resolve of His will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection."
Then if God is condemning  men for their foreseen sins, ergo, He isn't predestining them before considering their sins, which is what "negative reprobation" holds. Therefore, God does not condemn any man to Hell except in view of their deliberate rejection of His graces, and not as the Thomists hold, because He withholds the necessary graces that would enable them to be saved.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on January 14, 2019, 02:33:33 AM
Of course, "negative reprobation" cannot be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of God's universal salvific will, so ultimately it must be rejected as untenable with said doctrine.

And yet it hasn't been rejected because you can't have election without reprobation.

It is a dogma of the faith that "God, by an eternal resolve of His will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection."
Then if God is condemning  men for their foreseen sins, ergo, He isn't predestining them before considering their sins, which is what "negative reprobation" holds. Therefore, God does not condemn any man to Hell except in view of their deliberate rejection of His graces, and not as the Thomists hold, because He withholds the necessary graces that would enable them to be saved.

As I understand this (at least roughly thomistically, I think), God doesn't  "first predestine some men to hell and enforce that by withholding necessary graces that would enable them to be saved". He, FOREKNOWING their sin (resisting sufficient grace, which they would do even if they knew of further grace) withholds the further grace (which they would REJECT if they could).  He does not force grace on those who would reject it, but chooses from eternity to permit some to sin (and be damned). He at the same time (not afterwards) chooses from eternity that other men freely do good (ensuring they are saved) and is the cause of that good. I think the mystery of both reprobation and predestination can't be understood without understanding what "God is outside of time" really means, in God's eyes.  God is Sovereign over both good and evil in the whole Eternal tapestry of Divine Providence: the story of Creation, the Fall, the Redemption, and Salvation.  He doesn't just stand by and watch how we all work it out ... even though we ARE freely working it out too.

It's not being forced to do evil if it is inevitable because God foreknows it from eternity. Nor is it being forced to do evil if it is inevitable because God permits it from eternity - even if He could have done otherwise. Saying "You could have NOT PERMITTED our sin if you REALLY loved us" to God is a childish refusal to take blame (and envy of others).

You can LOOK at simple foreknowledge as being a proof of fate; but in a lifetime people live freely and produce their own results.

You can LOOK at predestination (something God performs outside of time) as being a proof of a lack of freedom; but in a lifetime, a man in a sense freely "lives himself into" being a reprobate, or into being saved (predestined):

Quote
...with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
As St. Paul goes on to say, it is God who works in you; but YOU are still working.

"Well I may as well live as I like since I can do nothing about it" is not true, nor is "I know I am saved since I accepted...".  I think that in trusting in God you can put all this aside and live in hope and do good. That's what saints did, no matter what they thought about how predestination worked.

Yes it is hard to understand how the obvious truth of free-will is not violated by the idea of God's absolute sovereignty and causality of all good.  But I accept both of these truths (as the Church teaches) and chalk up the problem to the weakness of my own intellect and that of all the myriads of theologians who have tried to explain them (even St. Thomas). How can our intellect compare to that of God?  I don't think it is denying human reason to admit to the Mystery of Divine Providence.

I know I haven't "figured this out".
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 14, 2019, 04:07:20 PM
Of course, "negative reprobation" cannot be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of God's universal salvific will, so ultimately it must be rejected as untenable with said doctrine.

And yet it hasn't been rejected because you can't have election without reprobation.

It is a dogma of the faith that "God, by an eternal resolve of His will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection."
Then if God is condemning  men for their foreseen sins, ergo, He isn't predestining them before considering their sins, which is what "negative reprobation" holds. Therefore, God does not condemn any man to Hell except in view of their deliberate rejection of His graces, and not as the Thomists hold, because He withholds the necessary graces that would enable them to be saved.

Exactly. Case closed.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 14, 2019, 04:34:05 PM
Of course, "negative reprobation" cannot be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of God's universal salvific will, so ultimately it must be rejected as untenable with said doctrine.

And yet it hasn't been rejected because you can't have election without reprobation.

It is a dogma of the faith that "God, by an eternal resolve of His will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection."

Then if God is condemning  men for their foreseen sins, ergo, He isn't predestining them before considering their sins, which is what "negative reprobation" holds. Therefore, God does not condemn any man to Hell except in view of their deliberate rejection of His graces, and not as the Thomists hold, because He withholds the necessary graces that would enable them to be saved.

Exactly. Case closed.

If it were that simple, it would have been closed ages ago.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Gardener on January 14, 2019, 05:12:05 PM
And also the same if the answer was to be found in Augustine et al.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on January 14, 2019, 05:21:25 PM
God could close the case (not in the manner of men). We just muddle around trying to make sense of it (some better than others, I think).  I can't believe that Fr. Most has closed it either.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Arvinger on January 17, 2019, 12:18:23 PM
Of course, "negative reprobation" cannot be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine of God's universal salvific will, so ultimately it must be rejected as untenable with said doctrine.

And yet it hasn't been rejected because you can't have election without reprobation.

It is a dogma of the faith that "God, by an eternal resolve of His will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection."
Then if God is condemning  men for their foreseen sins, ergo, He isn't predestining them before considering their sins, which is what "negative reprobation" holds. Therefore, God does not condemn any man to Hell except in view of their deliberate rejection of His graces, and not as the Thomists hold, because He withholds the necessary graces that would enable them to be saved.

Exactly. Case closed.

The problem is that acceptance of grace is in itself a grace. If man can't do anything without God's grace, then he can't accept the graces necessary for salvation without receiving a grace of acceptance of these graces.

Therefore, saying "God condemns them for rejection of graces" is merely moving a problem one step back - if they rejected the graces, it means that God did not give them grace of acceptance of graces. Unless you want to say that man is able to accept graces by his own power, apart from God's grace, which leads to semi-Pelagianism.

As I wrote numerous times here, no theological system accurately explains predestination, all of them taking to logical conclusion result in Calvinism or semi-Pelagianism. We have to accept that predestination is a mystery which we cannot understand.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: awkwardcustomer on January 17, 2019, 04:49:22 PM
God knows what will happen.  Man chooses what he does.  Man has free will, yet God already knows.  Man will never be able to understand how this is possible.

Why is this impossible to understand? It's quite simple.  God knows the choices a man will make because God is not bound by time. 

Free will, if it means anything at all, has to mean the freedom to choose evil.  God knows which of us will choose evil because He can 'see' into the future, meaning He sees past, present and future as the eternal 'now'.

What's so difficult?


 
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 17, 2019, 05:00:46 PM
The problem is that acceptance of grace is in itself a grace. If man can't do anything without God's grace, then he can't accept the graces necessary for salvation without receiving a grace of acceptance of these graces.

That's not a problem. Your problem is insisting upon confusing the grace that makes this freely-willed acceptance possible with God magically making a man's will no longer his own, believing man must turned into a puppet on a string by the grace to accept grace, yet still actually will something.

Receiving un-asked-for power to do something, even if that something is to exercise my will to make a particular choice, is not a violation of the freedom of my will in general or in that decision.

Quote
Therefore, saying "God condemns them for rejection of graces" is merely moving a problem one step back - if they rejected the graces, it means that God did not give them grace of acceptance of graces.

No, it doesn't. It just means they exercised their free will to refuse to cooperate.

Quote
Unless you want to say that man is able to accept graces by his own power, apart from God's grace, which leads to semi-Pelagianism.

You're just not getting it. Without God's grace, there's no grace to accept in the first place, leaving man lost, and without a prevenient grace, man's will, bogged down in sin, is not free to choose to accept it, and so has no way to salvation. That grace frees and empowers the will to be able choose God does not mean just its opposite.

Beliveing in man actually having a really real free will is not any kind of Pelagianism, regardless of your turn of phrase.

Quote
As I wrote numerous times here, no theological system accurately explains predestination, all of them taking to logical conclusion result in Calvinism or semi-Pelagianism.

Moot. We don't care. Even your idea of "semi-Pelagianism", straw man alternative that it is, has never been condemned by the Church, and we therefore have no reason to even reject it, as you've formulated it, as some would-be "semi-heresy".

Quote
We have to accept that predestination is a mystery which we cannot understand.

That doesn't resolve a contradiction. It leaves it there, and no appeal to a "mystery", that ubiquitous Latin copout, will ever make a logical contradiction possible. The proper response to a reductio ad absurdum is to get rid of a false premise that led one to it, not to declare the question of how a contradiction is possible a mystery so you can just stick with it.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 17, 2019, 05:25:51 PM
God knows what will happen.  Man chooses what he does.  Man has free will, yet God already knows.  Man will never be able to understand how this is possible.

Why is this impossible to understand? It's quite simple.  God knows the choices a man will make because God is not bound by time. 

Free will, if it means anything at all, has to mean the freedom to choose evil.  God knows which of us will choose evil because He can 'see' into the future, meaning He sees past, present and future as the eternal 'now'.

What's so difficult?

I'm certain that none of you can rigorously demonstrate, without hidden premises, how a subject's volitional freedom and foreknowledge of his choice are logically exclusive of one another.

People in general are labouring under a fundamental misunderstanding of the freedom of the subject and ingrained mechanistic thinking. A subject is intrinsically free, and in that sense his will is free, namely, a subject's freely willed choices ultimately originate out of himself as first cause, but his will is never free of himself, and so what is chosen may originate in a free will but that choice may nevertheless necessarily occur. But if it is necessary, it can be foreknown with certainty. You, to the contrary, implicitly assume that foreknowledge of an event is only possible if that event is predetermined by some causal chain that does not begin in the subject himself, confusing necessity and causation. It's the same prejudice that lies behind all rejection of middle knowledge.

One doesn't even need to appeal to transcendence. God's knowledge is not dependent upon him sitting outside of time seeing it all at once, nor upon his having mechanically predetermined everything, for God knows intimately the nature of everything, and of every spirit, free as they may be, and not all necessity is a causal necessity.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: awkwardcustomer on January 17, 2019, 06:23:54 PM
I'm certain that none of you can rigorously demonstrate, without hidden premises, how a subject's volitional freedom and foreknowledge of his choice are logically exclusive of one another.

I'm certain too.

Quote
You, to the contrary, implicitly assume that foreknowledge of an event is only possible if that event is predetermined by some causal chain that does not begin in the subject himself, confusing necessity and causation. It's the same prejudice that lies behind all rejection of middle knowledge.

I'm not.  My assumption is that free will necessarily includes the freedom to choose evil, and the choice to reject God comes entirely from the individual who makes that choice.  It is his choice in every sense of the word.

Lucifer and the angels who rebelled with him weren't fallen when they made that choice.  Adam and Eve weren't fallen when they chose to eat the apple.  Give angels and men free will and a fair number of each will choose evil, even without the stain of Original Sin on them.  There is no causation of events beginning outside the individual angel or man which determines the decision to reject God.

Quote
One doesn't even need to appeal to transcendence. God's knowledge is not dependent upon him sitting outside of time seeing it all at once, nor upon his having mechanically predetermined everything, for God knows intimately the nature of everything, and of every spirit, free as they may be, and not all necessity is a causal necessity.

Excellent point.

God knows who will turn to evil in their innermost wills, or should it be hearts?  I'm not sure where we disagree.  What I was asking was - if God's favourite angel can rebel and a third of the angels follow him, and if Adam and Eve can also choose to rebel before they fell, why is anyone surprised that a sizeable portion of fallen human beings should make the same choice, and would have made that same choice even if they had not suffered the effects of Original Sin.

This is the question I'm trying to get at.  Those who rebel against God - would they have made that choice even before the Fall, just like Adam, Eve and the fallen angels?  If so, then their rejection of God's grace makes perfect sense.  God knows this, and let's them get on with it. 

Doesn't that mean that the only way to prevent evil is to prevent a sizeable portion of angels and men from freely choosing evil.  And the only way to do that was for God not to create rational beings in the first place.   
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: awkwardcustomer on January 17, 2019, 07:44:33 PM
Do those who complain about the existence of evil think that God should not have created rational creatures with free will?



Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on January 17, 2019, 07:49:15 PM
Quote
I'm certain that none of you can rigorously demonstrate, without hidden premises, how a subject's volitional freedom and foreknowledge of his choice are logically exclusive of one another.

What we know is our human experience.  We can hypothesize all sorts of ways around what appears to violate our human experience and show that they are not excluded by logic, but that does not thus make it any less of a head-scratcher.  We can hypothesize the timeless vs. timed and explain it that way, or we can hypothesize that choice might yet still necessarily come.  Similarly physicists can hypothesize the fifth dimension, tell you some properties about it, but when asked to close your eyes and visualize the fifth dimension is it any more clear than before?  These are still boggling to us as they are alien to our experience.

Given that I already accept that man has free will and that God knows our future, it matters not to me that this appears to be impossible as per our human experience.  I am certain that somehow this works out via unknown unknowns.  That I cannot grasp the ways of the infinite God is not a shock.

As the blind man can believe that color exists, yet utterly be incapable of even imagining what this means, so too can I believe that freewill and predestination do not exclude each other, despite being unable to internalize what this looks like.

Given what else we accept, that to our human experience makes no sense, I do not know why people get hung up over freewill + predestination.  Bodiless living creatures, souls / spirits, timelessness, the Trinity, and the list goes on and on.  This is just another part of divine revelation and its odd that this one time and time again receives so much hyper-focus out of a pack of other beliefs which could easily be doubted under such scrutiny as well.  This is also why I think the hyper-focus on logic leads to eventual apostasy across society over the long run.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 17, 2019, 10:37:45 PM
The only free being in the universe, properly speaking, is God. He is the one that determines everything that comes to pass and the only one who can't be determined.

Mankind is but a result of God's will, nothing more.

Everything else is just the result of humanist delirium or hubris.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on January 17, 2019, 10:54:18 PM
Quote
The only free being in the universe, properly speaking, is God. He is the one that determines everything that comes to pass and the only one who can't be determined.

Do I freely choose to type this reply, did God force it, or does God merely already know about it (yet I freely chose the wording)?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 17, 2019, 11:05:02 PM
Quote
The only free being in the universe, properly speaking, is God. He is the one that determines everything that comes to pass and the only one who can't be determined.

Do I freely choose to type this reply, did God force it, or does God merely already know about it (yet I freely chose the wording)?

God has determined from all eternity whatsoever comes to pass. Everything. Every atom out there, every subatomic particle in the vacuum, everything, even my fingers as they type right now cannot type if not by the will of God. No creature can frustrate His will because every creature is a product of His eternal will. "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35)

All existence, including this very conversation, is a product of His will. Yes, we can try to discern the complexities and subtleties of the chain of causation, and all its tensions with the notion of personal accountability, but the bottom line is God's absolute sovereignty and freedom. Either that, or He is simply an impotent sky-god that is determined by His creatures, unable to accomplish that which He has determined that should come to pass. Not the God of Scripture. Or the God that became incarnate in Christ.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on January 17, 2019, 11:20:04 PM
Quote
The only free being in the universe, properly speaking, is God. He is the one that determines everything that comes to pass and the only one who can't be determined.

Do I freely choose to type this reply, did God force it, or does God merely already know about it (yet I freely chose the wording)?

God has determined from all eternity whatsoever comes to pass. Everything. Every atom out there, every subatomic particle in the vacuum, everything, even my fingers as they type right now cannot type if not by the will of God. No creature can frustrate His will because every creature is a product of His eternal will. "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35)

All existence, including this very conversation, is a product of His will. Yes, we can try to discern the complexities and subtleties of the chain of causation, and all its tensions with the notion of personal accountability, but the bottom line is God's absolute sovereignty and freedom. Either that, or He is simply an impotent sky-god that is determined by His creatures, unable to accomplish that which He has determined that should come to pass. Not the God of Scripture. Or the God that became incarnate in Christ.

The "complexities and subtleties of the chain of causation" can't be totally belittled or you end up denying the Catholic doctrine of free will.

Or does "hopeful fatalist" mean that you are not Catholic?

I think we are thinking anthromorphically when we interpret Scripture (or the true part of what you said) so as to turn God into a  puppet master that destroys freedom in His creatures.

We can't "figure God out" satisfactorily in our own heads; we can't satisfactorily resolve all the complexities. At SOME point we  have to admit Divine mystery.  But we have to accept two absolute truths: the absolute sovereignty of God and man's free will.   We rush to the conclusion that there is a contradiction, but we don't understand God's causality. 

Absolutely sovereign, God didn't have to create man. Absolutely sovereign, He created man in His own image and likeness, with a will free like (an image of) His own. Man wills  freely, but does not (can not) escape God's sovereignty.                                                                                             
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on January 17, 2019, 11:46:19 PM
The true doctrine is (1) an entirely gratuitous predestination of the elect (2) a thoroughly deserved reprobation of the wicked. Pelagians denied the former. Calvinists denied the latter. St. Augustine insisted strongly on the former. St. Thomas developed and completed it. St. Alphonsus, in his "refutation of all heresies", insists on the latter. In the last part, he ends as follows, "God tells us that he wishes all to be saved, and gives to all grace to obtain eternal salvation; he has promised to listen to those who pray to him, so that if we are lost, it is solely through our own fault. He also tells us that if we are saved it must be by those means of salvation which he has given us, the fulfilment of his holy law, the Sacraments by which the merits of Christ are communicated to us, prayer, by which we obtain the grace we stand in need of; and this is the order of the decree of God’s predestination or reprobation, to give eternal life to those who correspond to his grace, and to punish those who despise it." So, God's grace given to all comes first. Man's persistent rejection of that grace will make him a reprobate. In those who, with the aid of grace, do all that lies in their natural power, God's grace will produce its effect.

The reason Predestination and Reprobation are different is because the evil act and every good action follows a different order. Please read the Meaning of Grace, for a Thomistic Treatment. http://www.ewtn.com/library/doctrine/mnggrace.htm
Quote
"There we have the problem. How is it to be solved? Only Catholic teaching provides a solution or, to be exact, the teaching of St Thomas, for I see in him the confluence of all the efforts made by the preceding centuries. The understanding of Scripture possessed by the Fathers has always been preserved in the Church; and their solutions are coordinated, rethought in depth by St Thomas.

The way to solve the problem is, before all else, to distinguish clearly the case of the good act and that of the evil act. All who fail to do this go astray. They say either that man is equally cause of his good and of his bad acts, or else that God is responsible for man's bad acts as well as his good ones. To adopt the same method of explaining good and bad acts is a fundamental mistake that renders the problem insoluble ...

This then is the structure of the good act. God produces through me my free act and, since he knows all that he does, he knows this act. If I perform an act of love tomorrow, it will be because God has given me the enveloping and sustaining impulse ... From his place of eternity God knows all the free acts his creatures have done, are doing, will do; he knows with a knowledge which does not precede these free acts, but is above them; he knows them not beforehand, but from all eternity. You see then, that when we say 'God knows beforehand', we are attributing to him a human manner of knowing. So God's knowledge is safeguarded in the case of the good act. It is certain that, from all eternity, God sees himself instigating in me this or that good action, making it come to fruition, and that without violating my free will, but rather creating it. God's prescience from all eternity—the prefix must be understood not as meaning 'beforehand', but as signifying knowledge 'of a higher mode ... So it is with the act which is bad. All the being (physical) of the bad act comes from God, but all the deviation (moral) of the bad act, everything that causes the deviation of the movement given by God for our good, all the sinfulness, comes from man alone.

In the good act, God has the first initiative, he is the first, enveloping cause of the act, and man the secondary cause. In the sinful act, man is first cause of the deviation, that is of the non-being, the disorder, the destruction. Homo prima causa mali: man is first cause of evil! But can he be first cause of anything? Yes, he can be first cause of whatever is not a thing; he can do what is no thing, he can destroy, annihilate the divine action that comes to visit him. Here man can take the first initiative; he is first cause of the annulling of the divine action. So, you see, it is a mystery of darkness. God is always knocking at the door of my heart. If I let him act, he makes me assent in a more and more excellent way. I cannot pride myself on this or pray like the Pharisee: 'Lord, I give the tithe of all I possess . . . while this publican is a sinner'. If I do something good, what I should say is, 'My God, I have so often refused you. Thank you for having helped me to consent this time. To you the glory, and not to me, worm of the earth.'

I can say 'No!' It is not that God has not helped me sufficiently. He was there, as I told you, knocking at the door of my heart. I have impeded his movement and in such wise that, if I continue to do so and death comes, it will be hell, separation from God. I shall not blame him, I shall never be able to blame him for not having helped me enough. It is I who willed to hinder the divine movement, I am to blame. None of the damned will arise at the last day to say, 'Lord, you did not help me enough.' They will all say, 'That is what 1 willed.' And they will go on maintaining that their choice was an excellent one. If a single one of the damned could say he was damned by God's fault, God would not be God.

So then, if I die in an act of love, it is God who will have enabled me to do this act, and I shall say, 'Lord, it is due to your infinite goodness that I am entering finally into your Light. You have sent me into Paradise, as an archer shoots his arrow at the mark. To you be the glory.' That is precisely what predestination is: the act by which God takes hold of me and causes me to give the ultimate assent to his love.


Two simple syllogisms: (1) no one can be saved without being justified, and (2) justification is always gratuitous, therefore, (3) salvation is always gratuitous, even leaving apart other things. And similarly, since (1) no one is lost without choosing to fall into mortal sin, and (2) mortal sin is always freely willed and self-chosen with culpability, therefore (3) no one is lost except through his own fault. Therefore, predestination is totally gratuitous, undeserved, freely given; while reprobation is entirely deserved by self-chosen faults.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Gardener on January 17, 2019, 11:58:03 PM
You do realize of course that St. Alphonsous challenged the Banezian understanding such that Garrigou-Lagrange countered him in, I believe, his work titled “Grace”, right?

St. Alphonsous did not follow the Banezian understanding unfortunately repopularized by GL in the 20th century, but was a Congruist.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 18, 2019, 12:01:08 AM
Quote
The only free being in the universe, properly speaking, is God. He is the one that determines everything that comes to pass and the only one who can't be determined.

Do I freely choose to type this reply, did God force it, or does God merely already know about it (yet I freely chose the wording)?

God has determined from all eternity whatsoever comes to pass. Everything. Every atom out there, every subatomic particle in the vacuum, everything, even my fingers as they type right now cannot type if not by the will of God. No creature can frustrate His will because every creature is a product of His eternal will. "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35)

All existence, including this very conversation, is a product of His will. Yes, we can try to discern the complexities and subtleties of the chain of causation, and all its tensions with the notion of personal accountability, but the bottom line is God's absolute sovereignty and freedom. Either that, or He is simply an impotent sky-god that is determined by His creatures, unable to accomplish that which He has determined that should come to pass. Not the God of Scripture. Or the God that became incarnate in Christ.

The "complexities and subtleties of the chain of causation" can't be totally belittled or you end up denying the Catholic doctrine of free will.

Or does "hopeful fatalist" mean that you are not Catholic?

I think we are thinking anthromorphically when we interpret Scripture (or the true part of what you said) so as to turn God into a  puppet master that destroys freedom in His creatures.

We can't "figure God out" satisfactorily in our own heads; we can't satisfactorily resolve all the complexities. At SOME point we  have to admit mystery.  But we have to accept two absolute truths: the absolute sovereignty of God and man's free will.   We rush to the conclusion that there is a contradiction, but we don't understand God's causality.                                                                                               

God determines everything. He is not determined by anything. A system that turns man into an overriding element of God's will, or that turns man's volition into something completely independent from God's absolute fore-ordinance of everything that comes to pass, may apparently "solve" some issues, only to make them, I confess, unremittingly worse. Essentially, we're left with the God of the humanists, ever ready to appease and respect man's will, impotent, filling the gaps of history, the Potter that has no power over the will of his vessels of clay, the God that has led us all slowly but surely into atheism for the past 4 centuries.

In fact, I only grant one of your two "absolute truths": that God, properly speaking, is absolutely sovereign and free. The prime mover and cause of all, the absolutely perfect and sole creator of everything visible and invisible, dispenser and governor of existence, judge of all, judged by none, whose will by definition cannot be frustrated and in whose universe not even a subatomic particle can move without Him having foreordained it from all time to move. He does not simply observe to be determined by the observation, rather He determines, He creates, He ordains, He wills, He rules, He commands obedience and worship by the very nature of those things, He's not an impotent puppet that weeps at our fate. He is the sole captain of the universal ship of life in whose sole hands our souls rest.

Man's will is conditionally "free", not absolutely so. To speak of free will is usually a bad idea. It's preferable to speak of volition or, dare I say it, autonomy. With caution, though.

Can I solve the centuries-old riddle between God's sovereignty and man's accountability? Not decisively, no. But one thing I do know: God is as sovereign over these very lines that you're reading right now, as over anything else that exists or will ever exist. He is the absolute.

The master of my fate, the captain of my soul.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Gardener on January 18, 2019, 12:03:14 AM
Inshallah?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 18, 2019, 12:05:48 AM
Inshallah?

Mashallah.

What man wills, God has willed and determined it first from eternity past.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on January 18, 2019, 12:17:14 AM
You do realize of course that St. Alphonsous challenged the Banezian understanding such that Garrigou-Lagrange countered him in, I believe, his work titled “Grace”, right?

St. Alphonsous did not follow the Banezian understanding unfortunately repopularized by GL in the 20th century, but was a Congruist.

Yes, St. Alphonsus did disagree with Banez. There are some questions that remain to be clarified, as Cardinal Journet says, which is why the final definition has not yet come. St. Alphonsus defends intrinsically efficacious grace against Molina. He also denies negative reprobation. I think both of those are right. "negative reprobation" is a totally wrong idea that confused the issue completely. St. Alphonsus lays great stress on the point that reprobation is always consequent to faults and thoroughly deserved - both in a sermon on "the number of sins beyond which God pardons no more", which St. Alphonsus repeats in his work, "the true spouse of Jesus Christ" warning those in religious life especially, not to listen to the devil when he says, "you can sin mortally now and repent later", that any mortal sin could be their last, and cause them to die in final impenitence. So, here we have consequent or "ppd" reprobation.

No Thomist is obliged to agree with Banez on these and a few other points. We are Thomists because of St. Thomas.

Summary from St. Alphonsus: "And the more, because divine grace, by which alone men can gain eternal life, is dispensed more or less abundantly by God entirely gratuitously, and without any regard to our merits. So that to save ourselves it will always be necessary for us to throw ourselves into the arms of the divine mercy, in order that he may assist us with his grace to obtain salvation, trusting always in his infallible promises to hear and save the man who prays to him."

+Journet: "There are two schools of thought on this. One is that of St Thomas Aquinas which, through St Augustine, derives from St Paul—the great traditionalist school.

The other arose in the age of the baroque and of humanism. It is that of Molina, a Portuguese Jesuit who, on account of certain unresolved difficulties, wanted to explain in a way hitherto untried the relation of grace and freedom. God and man, he said, act like two horses on the tow-path of a canal drawing a boat. The actions of God and of man are supplementary like those of the horses. Molina thought of them as simply added one to the other. His doctrine has not been condemned, since he said, as regards the good act, God and man, grace and freedom. But, as we see, he transposed to within the circle the preceding error and if he did not set them against each other, at any rate he juxtaposed the divine and the human action. He did not sufficiently grasp the difference in plane between divine and human action and stressed unduly, to an extreme degree, the power of the human will. Here, expressed in accepted Christian terminology, we find again the example just given: God holds out his hand, I take it.

5. The traditional doctrine, the only one rooted in Revelation, has not yet been defined because there still remain certain questions to elucidate. But the definition will come, already the general line is clear: human action is subordinated to the divine action. It is not only God and man, grace and freedom, but God through man, grace through freedom, that does the good act. Is the rose produced by the rose-tree? Or by God? Or else partly by God, partly by the rose-tree? We must say: the rose is produced wholly by the rose-tree as secondary cause, and wholly by God as first cause, the enveloping cause. God gives the rose-tree the ability to produce the rose. God, acting on the rose-tree to make it produce the rose, does not diminish, but rather enriches, it. The more he intervenes, the more excellent will be the rose-tree the more powerful its action ... We come to man, a free being with intelligence and will, with his immortal soul greater than all the world; when God touches his soul he enables it to act according to its nature, which is to rule over things of a lower order. Freedom is not independence in relation to God: if God does not touch me, am I then free? O no! If God does not touch me, I act no more, I exist no more, I fall into nothingness. Freedom is to be found within God himself, as in its infinite source; the nearer I draw to God and the more I share in his rule over lower beings, the more I am free. My freedom is a dependence in relation to God, a dependence that gives me a power over and freedom of choice in regard to the lower things ... My soul keeps its power and freedom of choice. Then God, when he touches me according to my nature, does not infringe my freedom but, on the contrary, exalts it: 'God who made this delicate machine of our free-will is the only one who can move it without breaking it.' He does not impair natures, but makes them flourish. Who was more dependent on God than St Francis of Assisi, and who was freer? You could place him in any condition you like, throw him into a concentration-camp, he would still be in command of all that was lower in the scale of being, he would still be St Francis."
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on January 18, 2019, 09:44:19 AM
Quote
God's absolute sovereignty and freedom. Either that, or He is simply an impotent sky-god that is determined by His creatures, unable to accomplish that which He has determined that should come to pass. Not the God of Scripture. Or the God that became incarnate in Christ.

Sola scriptura and your personal reasoning led to this belief.  I choose to come to God and learn of Him through the means He intended, which is through His Church.  I welcome you to do so as well.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 18, 2019, 01:04:16 PM
Quote
God's absolute sovereignty and freedom. Either that, or He is simply an impotent sky-god that is determined by His creatures, unable to accomplish that which He has determined that should come to pass. Not the God of Scripture. Or the God that became incarnate in Christ.

Sola scriptura and your personal reasoning led to this belief.  I choose to come to God and learn of Him through the means He intended, which is through His Church.  I welcome you to do so as well.

I'm afraid the Church is no more an infallible teacher on these things than you and me, Davis.

If she were, no such thing as Traditional Catholicism would even exist, would it? Vatican II and its aftermath destroyed once and for all any pretense of infallibility. Or the quarrel between Thomism and Molinism would have been decided centuries ago, instead of being embarrassingly postponed ad infinitum. Or the she wouldn't have made Geocentrism a matter of faith as she did when the Galileo affair erupted, only to quietly drop it later on. Or she wouldn't have flip-flopped on usury when the Modern European market economy started to boom from the Renaissance onwards, making easy access to credit a vital mechanism of growth. Etc.

It's clear the Church makes educated guesses as much as we do. Apparently, a lot of stuff isn't divinely revealed, nor there seems to be any divine guarantees preventing the educated guesses of popes, councils and theologians from being wrong every now and then. There's no need to point fingers at anyone, though. Only God knows all the answers. With a healthy dose of self-criticism, we can only hope to make better educated guesses with the data available to us as time goes by.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on January 19, 2019, 01:27:08 AM
Educated guesses about God's Mysteries are guaranteed not to hit the mark; given that God's Mysteries are infinite they cannot be fathomed. I think the Church knew this in condemning neither Thomism nor Molinism.  God's mysteries are reflected in the reality that we do see, so that speculations are worthwhile, but they must be understood with the humility that recognizes how limited they are.

I think both "that there is free will" and "that there is absolute sovereignty" are better than educated guesses; common everyday experience and not-all-that-much reasoning about God from Scripture brings us to these conclusions.  The Church reinforces these truths and tries to prevent self-proclaimed educated guessers from absurdly denying one or the other.  But despite the Church's efforts heresies do arise.

I don't understand all the changes in the Church (including some in the distant past  in teachings that I believe were not formally declared as universal doctrine (specific teachings on usury, geocentrism)).  But I can't abandon Christ's Church's authority in teaching altogether making myself the private interpreter of EVERYTHING  both in Scripture and in past Church councils.  It's a matter of FAITH and PRUDENT thinking (docile to the Church), not perfect totally-satisfying-to-me understanding.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on January 19, 2019, 01:35:40 AM
About free will: it is not something that was taught only by St. Thomas and Church councils and modern Catholics and the world today. The Church Fathers have much to say.  They speak much more forcefully and unapologetically about it than you, Vetus Ordo. Here are some examples:

http://www.historyandapologetics.com/2015/02/church-fathers-on-free-will.html
OK, I'm including the whole thing here (sorry!). NOTE: the original quote (someone else's post somewhere else) had a lot of brackets in it that were being interpreted by SD's interface to strike-through etc.  I added spaces to prevent this.

Quote from: Church Fathers on Free Will
This post is supposed to compile early examples of support for the Catholic doctrine of free will. I  [not Non Nobis] made this thread because some Protestants deny the reality of free will, and I think the Church Fathers can help show that it is real. BTW I’d love to add to this. Do any of you know of any other examples of support for free will

150 A.D. - St. Justin Martyr - "[It is not] by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but [rather] each man by free choice acts rightly or sins... [For] God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, [and] they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]." (Second Apology Chapter 7) See also First Apology Chapter 43 and Dialog with Trypho Chapter 141.

170 A.D. - Tatian - “[E]ach of these two orders of creatures [men and angels] was made free to act as it pleased, not having the nature of good, which again is with God alone, but is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice... [T]he bad man [ is] justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault, but the just man [ is] deservedly praised...since [ by] his free choice he refrained from transgressing the will of God.” (Address to the Greeks Chapter 7)

And: “[T]he power of the Logos...foresee(s) future events, not as fated, but as taking place by the choice of free agents.” (ibid.)

177 A.D. - Athenagoras - “[M]en...have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice...for you would not either honour the good or punish the bad, unless vice and virtue were in their own power... [ S]o is it among the angels [also].” (Plea for the Christians Chapter 24)

180 A.D. - St. Irenaeus writes a chapter about free will that is titled: "Men are possessed of free will, and endowed with the faculty of making a choice. It is not true, therefore, that some are by nature good, and others bad." (Against Heresies Book IV Chapter 37)

~195 A.D. - St. Clement of Alexandria - "[If] faith is not the rational assent of the soul exercising free-will, but an undefined beauty, belonging immediately to the creature—[then] the precepts both of the Old and of the New Testament are...superfluous." (Stromata Book 5 Chapter 1)

And: "[ S ]ince some are unbelieving, and some are disputatious, [therefore] all do not attain to the perfection of the good. For neither is it possible to attain it without the exercise of free choice; nor does the whole depend on our own purpose." (ibid.)

And: "Wisdom which is God-given...rouses indeed our free-will, and admits faith, and repays the application of the elect with its crowning fellowship." (Stromata Book 5 Chapter 13)

197 A.D. - Tertullian - “[You use] swords, and flames, and crosses, and wild beasts [against us]... [ but] all you can do to us [depends] upon our pleasure. It is assuredly a matter of my own inclination, being a Christian. ... [We] would far rather be condemned than apostatize from God…[therefore] our haters should be sorry rather than rejoice, [for] we have obtained [martyrdom] of our own choice.” (Apology Chapter 49)

216 A.D. - Tertullian - “[T]he vicious action [comes from] each individual free-will. ‘Behold,’ says [God], ‘I have set before you good and evil.’ Choose that which is good: if you cannot, [ it is] because you will not—for that you can if you will He has shown, because He has proposed each to your free-will.” (On Monogamy Chapter 14)

226 A.D. - Minucius Felix - “Neither let any one either take comfort from, or apologize for what happens from fate. Let what happens be of the disposition of fortune, yet the mind is free; and therefore man's doing, not his dignity, is judged.” (Octavius Chapter 36)

228 A.D. - St. Hippolytus - “Since man has free will, a law has been defined for his guidance by the Deity, not without answering a good purpose. For if man did not possess the power to will and not to will, why should a law be established?” (Refutation of All Heresies Book 10 Chapter 29)

248 A.D. - St. Cyprian - “That the liberty of believing or of not believing is placed in free choice [you may read in]...Deuteronomy: ‘Lo, I have set before your face life and death, good and evil. Choose for yourself life, that you may live.’ Also in Isaiah: ‘And if you be willing, and hear me, you shall eat the good of the land. But if you be unwilling, and will not hear me, the sword shall consume you. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things.’ Also in the Gospel according to Luke: ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ ” (Testimonies Book 3 Chapter 52)

248 A.D. - Origen - “God, who preserves the free-will of each individual, may make use of the evil of the wicked for the administration of the world, so disposing them as to conduce to the benefit of the whole.” (Contra Celsus Book 4 Chapter 70)

251 A.D. - St. Cyprian - “But the Lord permits and suffers [heresies] to be, while the choice of one's own liberty remains.” (On the Unity of the Catholic Church 10)

~299 A.D. - Methodius - “[M]an was made with a free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God.” (Concerning Free Will)

350 A.D. - St. Cyril of Jerusalem - “[Sin is] of a man's own choosing, an offspring of the will. For that we sin of our own free will the Prophet says plainly in a certain place: ‘Yet I planted you a fruitful vine, wholly true: how are you turned to bitterness, [and become] the strange vine?’ (Jeremiah 2:21)” (Catechetical Lecture 2 Paragraph 1)

~ 402 A.D. - St. John Chrysostom - “[St. Paul] has guarded against that error of the unbelievers which takes away free will, by adding, with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Thus much only, he says, did we contribute. We have believed that He is able to save us.” (Homily 3 on First Timothy 1:14)

~381 A.D. - St. Gregory Nazianzen - “[God] placed [Adam] in Paradise, whatever the Paradise may have been, having honoured him with the gift of Free Will...in order that God might belong to him as the result of his choice, no less than to Him who had implanted the seeds of it... Also He gave him a Law, as a material for his Free Will to act upon.” (Oration 38 Paragraph 12)

And: 381 A.D. - “Why wait for a fever to bring you this blessing [of getting baptized], and refuse it from God? Why will you have it through lapse of time, and not through reason? Why will you owe it to a plotting friend, and not to a saving desire? Why will you receive it of force and not of free will; of necessity rather than of liberty?” (Oration 40 Paragraph 12)

Before 378 A.D. - St. Ephraim the Syrian - “Not of compulsion is the doctrine; of free-will is the word of life. Whoso is willing to hear the doctrine, let him cleanse the field of his will that the good seed fall not among the thorns of vain enquirings.” (Homily on Admonition and Repentance Paragraph 1)

418 A.D. - St. Augustine - “[God] has revealed to us, through His Holy Scriptures, that there is in a man a free choice of will. But how He has revealed this I do not recount in human language, but in divine. There is, to begin with, the fact that God's precepts themselves would be of no use to a man unless he had free choice of will, so that by performing them he might obtain the promised rewards.” (On Grace and Free Will Chapter 2)

Before 461 A.D. - Pope St. Leo the Great - “[ S]ecure a peace with God that nothing can destroy, by accepting His gracious service, in order that we may not only surrender ourselves in obedience to our King but also be united to Him by our free-will.” (Sermon 26 Paragraph 4)

400 A.D. - Apostolic Constitutions - “For they that give gifts do not of their own head give them to the widows, but barely bring them in, calling them free-will offerings, that so you who know those that are in affliction may as a good steward give them their portion of the gift.” (Section 1)

221 A.D. - Clementine Homilies - “But, you say, God ought to have made us at first so that we should not have thought at all of [ sin]. You who say this do not know what is free-will, and how it is possible to be really good; that he who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice. Since therefore every one's freedom constitutes the true good, and shows the true evil, God has contrived that friendship or hostility should be in each man by occasions.” (Homily 11 Chapter 8)

Before 395 A.D. - Gregory of Nyssa - “Thus, then, man was created in the image of God. He could not therefore be without the gifts of freedom, independence, self-determination; and his participation in the Divine gifts was consequently made dependent on his virtue. Owing to this freedom he could decide in favour of evil, which cannot have its origin in the Divine will, but only in our inner selves, where it arises in the form of a deviation from good, and so a privation of it.” (The Great Catechism Chapters 5-6)

419 A.D. - African Code - “[N]or shall any Christian be compelled to witness [theatrical] spectacles, especially because in the performance of things contrary to the precepts of God there should be no persecution made by anyone, but (as is right) a man should exercise the free will given him by God.” (Canon 61)

~429 A.D. - John Cassian - “[In Scripture] there is a declaration of the grace of God and the freedom of our will, because even of his own motion a man can be led to the quest of virtue, but always stands in need of the help of the Lord.” (Conference 13 Chapter 9)

415 A.D. - St. Jerome - “It is in vain that you misrepresent me and try to convince the ignorant that I condemn free will. Let him who condemns it be himself condemned. We have been created endowed with free will; still it is not this which distinguishes us from the brutes. For human free will, as I have said before, depends upon the help of God and needs His aid moment by moment, a thing which you and yours do not choose to admit.” (Letter 133 Paragraph 10)

712 A.D. - St. John Damascene - “[The fact] that volition is implanted in man by nature is manifest from [the following.] Excluding the divine life, there are three forms of life: the vegetative, the sentient, and the intellectual. The properties of the vegetative life are the functions of nourishment, and growth, and production: that of the sentient life is impulse: and that of the rational and intellectual life is freedom of will. If, then, nourishment belongs by nature to the vegetative life and impulse to the sentient, freedom of will by nature belongs to the rational and intellectual life. But freedom of will is nothing else than volition.” (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Book 3 Chapter 14)
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: awkwardcustomer on January 19, 2019, 01:44:52 PM
Vatican II and its aftermath destroyed once and for all any pretense of infallibility.

This is complete nonsense.  But I think you want it to be so, which probably means that no matter how many well-put counter-arguments are presented to you, you will go on saying it.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on January 20, 2019, 01:43:00 AM
Quote
God's absolute sovereignty and freedom. Either that, or He is simply an impotent sky-god that is determined by His creatures, unable to accomplish that which He has determined that should come to pass. Not the God of Scripture. Or the God that became incarnate in Christ.

Sola scriptura and your personal reasoning led to this belief.  I choose to come to God and learn of Him through the means He intended, which is through His Church.  I welcome you to do so as well.

I'm afraid the Church is no more an infallible teacher on these things than you and me, Davis.

If she were, no such thing as Traditional Catholicism would even exist, would it? Vatican II and its aftermath destroyed once and for all any pretense of infallibility. Or the quarrel between Thomism and Molinism would have been decided centuries ago, instead of being embarrassingly postponed ad infinitum. Or the she wouldn't have made Geocentrism a matter of faith as she did when the Galileo affair erupted, only to quietly drop it later on. Or she wouldn't have flip-flopped on usury when the Modern European market economy started to boom from the Renaissance onwards, making easy access to credit a vital mechanism of growth. Etc.

It's clear the Church makes educated guesses as much as we do. Apparently, a lot of stuff isn't divinely revealed, nor there seems to be any divine guarantees preventing the educated guesses of popes, councils and theologians from being wrong every now and then. There's no need to point fingers at anyone, though. Only God knows all the answers. With a healthy dose of self-criticism, we can only hope to make better educated guesses with the data available to us as time goes by.

Understood.  I note that the path you are on will most likely end where the gentleman whom has thanked your post is at, which I will call "thoughtful deism" - although PDR is welcome to correct me if I misunderstand his beliefs.

I find no reason to believe a lick of Scripture if the Church is not as she claims to be.  Its all or nothing with regards to Christianity.  Falling back to Scripture in absence of the Church baffles me.  If I am going to apply my own reasoning to the Faith and reject the Church then the only sensible place is to end up like PDR.  Going halfway with Protestantism is just a stepping stone to apostasy.  If you are fine with apostasy then continue as thus.  If apostasy scares the living daylights out of you then please reconsider.

I believe that the Church is the Body of Christ and that to be saved I must be within His Body.  I will remain as such no matter what bumps, small or cavernous, the Church has along the way.  After all, before I rejoined the Church as an adult, I had already accepted her history, what with Arianism, Pope Honorius, geocentrism, and what have you.  So that Pope Francis and other clerics speak errors does not break my Faith.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 20, 2019, 01:30:37 PM
I note that the path you are on will most likely end where the gentleman whom has thanked your post is at, which I will call "thoughtful deism" - although PDR is welcome to correct me if I misunderstand his beliefs.

Davis, I think you're correct.  I suppose I am a deist, even though that appellation has an 18th-century powdered wig tinge to it.  I'm inclined to say I'm whatever Plato was (and "pagan" is a better word than "deist"), but Plato had the audacity to ascribe goodness to the One, and I'm not sure how he arrived at that notion.  I think the nature of God is unknowable absent faith in a revelation, but at the same time I don't see a refutation to Aquinas' first way.  The only other option would be pantheism: that the universe itself is uncaused and uncreated.  I recently read a very interesting short story called Nethescurial, by Thomas Ligotti, about a pantheistic cult in which the universal god was believed to be evil.

I would disagree with you, though, on your hunch that Vetus Ordo is on a sola scriptura journey towards apostasy.  I have been interacting with him on and off for almost ten years now, since Fish Eaters, and I would wager that he is one of the least likely people to lose the Christian faith.  The difference between the two of you seems epistemological.  Where you proceed from "I believe that the Catholic Church is the infallible guide and dispenser of truth," he proceeds from an unshakeable conviction that Jesus Christ is God.  I don't think this necessitates a weakness of faith, but merely marks a difference in what a person puts their faith in.  The strength of conviction could vary, but I would rate Vetus Ordo's conviction level as "very high."  Not that he needs my testimony.  I do, of course, agree with him on the paradox of traditional Catholicism.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Matto on January 20, 2019, 07:37:10 PM
The one thing I cannot conceive of is that there is no God. I have tried, but it is beyond my ability and the idea that there is no God is inconceivable to me. It is just absurd to me. I could imagine a world where Christianity was false and Jesus was not God, but there was another God. I could imagine a good God. I could imagine an evil God and that this world was a nightmare and the meaning of life was to seek out our own annihilation. I can imagine a world where everything was determined and free-will was a mirage. But I cannot imagine a world without God and I cannot understand why so many people believe in such a world.

Hooray, this is my three-hundredth post.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: MilesChristi on January 20, 2019, 09:46:37 PM
As I understand it, the Church condemns hedonism on the grounds that hedonism does not lead to salvation.

But what about those of us who probably won't be saved anyway? Seeing as there is no road to salvation for us (the reprobate), and seeing as our damnation--if God wills it--is inevitable, why should we not spend our short lives doing whatever we want?

Should there not be a double standard?

Because it's gay
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on January 21, 2019, 12:19:35 AM
It is Christ and the Bible that assure us the Holy Spirit is given to the Church for all time (Isa 59:21, Mat 28:20), that hell will never conquer the Church built on St. Peter (Mat 16:18), that this Church is His voice on earth and all are to listen to and remain in Her (Mat 18:17-18) etc.

Vetus, to deny free will and moral responsibility is totally foreign even to the Bible, Deut 30:15 "Consider that I have set before thee this day life and good, and on the other hand death and evil ...  19 I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live:" and Ecclus 15:"[11] Say not: It is through God, that she is not with me: for do not thou the things that he hateth. [12] Say not: He hath caused me to err: for he hath no need of wicked men. [13] The Lord hateth all abomination of error, and they that fear him shall not love it. [14] God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel. [15] He added his commandments and precepts. [16] If thou wilt keep the commandments and perform acceptable fidelity for ever, they shall preserve thee. [17] He hath set water and fire before thee: stretch forth thy hand to which thou wilt. [18] Before man is life and death, good and evil, that which he shall choose shall be given him" And St. James pretty much cites this and continues along the same lines in his epistle , saying that a man is tempted by his own will, and then when evil desire has conceived, it brings forth sin. So no one should say he is tempted by God or caused by him to err or sin, these things come from man. Likewise, the Lord and Apostles say, all of us come to God when we are drawn by Him, that without Him we can do nothing, but with Him Who strengthens us, we can do all things, that all the good in us is of God; St. Peter says we are to abound in good works, to grow in grace, St. Paul says he labored much, "But by the grace of God, I am what I am; and his grace in me hath not been void, but I have laboured more abundantly than all they: yet not I, but the grace of God with me" (1 Cor 15:10), here we see both Divine Grace and human effort are needed, but Divine Grace is the first cause of all our meritorious good actions, since they are supernatural, and human effort is the second cause.

In creating us, God already gave us the natural power of free will. Free will means the power to perform either virtuous or sinful actions. Grace does not destroy free will but rather supernaturally elevates and perfects it, enabling us to perform supernaturally meritorious ones. If God were to gave some the preternatural ability to fly, would this ability take away from our freedom? Not at all, it is an added ability, although, it is true, only a natural one. Grace, in the same way, enables additional actions, although of a different order.

Of an evil action, man alone is first and only cause. Of meritorious actions, which God always wants to perform in and through man, God is first cause and man is second cause. Of justification, God is only cause; man must prepare and dispose himself to receive it, in Baptism, by faith in Christ, and sorrow for past sins, but God gives it to us gratuitously. Similarly, the gift of perseverance is also gratuitous, which man must constantly ask and pray for, work and labor for, both for himself and for others.

If a man loses grace through mortal sin, it is always his own fault. If in addition to this, despising so many calls of divine Mercy to return to grace by the Sacraments, he chooses to die in final impenitence, that too will be an additional and the most tragic of self-chosen faults, because it is irreversible. However, because of this, it is not to be denied that God's election is gratuitous, meaning freely given, "But it is said, It is by his own fault that any one deserts the faith, when he yields and consents to the temptation which is the cause of his desertion of the faith. Who denies it? But because of this, perseverance in the faith is not to be said not to be a gift of God. For it is this that a man daily asks for when he says, Lead us not into temptation; Matthew 6:13 and if he is heard, it is this that he receives. And thus as he daily asks for perseverance, he assuredly places the hope of his perseverance not in himself, but in God." (On the Predestination of the Saints, Book II, St. Augustine http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15122.htm)

So, since the cause always precedes the effect, and (1) the election of the just is caused by God, while (2) the reprobation of the wicked is caused by themselves, therefore, even if everyone were predestined (hypothetically), predestination would still be gratuitous. And if everyone were lost (God forbid!), even in this impossible case, each and all of the condemned would be lost because of their own fault.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 05:53:26 AM
Being a hedonist is like being a lover of music but only wanting to listen to the recording of an orchestra and not an actual orchestra; or a lover of painting who never visits galleries but only sees digital images of famous paintings; or being a lover of food & drink who only wants the taste on the tongue but not the actual substance in their mouths.

Hedonism mistakes the radiance or effect of an object for the object itself, which is to say that pleasure is the result of the good, not the good itself - as hedonists naively or foolishly say. Pleasure comes of its own accord. It's not something to be sought after or extracted for its own sake, because it's merely an effect, an aura, a radiance which arises from what is truly and substantially good. We know this by experience because the most miserable men in the world are those who are constantly seeking a certain pleasure for its own sake - the drug addict is only the archetypal example, but even those chasing something which men tend to esteem (like fame) tend to be miserable. I think an eminent example is sex, because those who become addicted to it eventually deprive themselves of any real pleasure or joy that might result from it until it becomes a miserable drug; the irony being that those who esteem chastity and are sincerely chaste at heart are the most likely to get real pleasure from it because they do it for its real natural purpose and nature duly rewards them. The happiest men in life tend to be those who are least intent on getting anything out of it but are happy to go along with the shifting sands and play their little part on the stage before they retire. I came across a funny text from Hilaire Belloc about a bus driver who spoke of the ridiculous hours he worked in his dull job, yet who obviously lived in a constant state of contentment. Belloc concludes that he must have been insane, but obviously the bus driver had unwittingly discovered life's secret which is that happiness comes when you aren't doing anything for its sake, or as Our Lord puts it "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." But above this natural contentment there is the superabundant joy of the saints who happen to be happy even in the midst of trials and persecutions (which is really a godlike & superhuman joy). In fact St. Francis Xavier while he was going around baptising foreign peoples and deprived of the company of his own countrymen was so filled with supernatural joy that he begged God to stop because the pressure it had on his heart felt like too much for him.

The reason people become hedonists is that they do or see evil things and recognise that a certain pleasure still arises from them, so they come to the mistaken conclusion that goodness and pleasure have no necessary relation. But these hedonists think wrongly and in the final analysis turn out to be shoddy philosophers and even worse theologians: because in doing evil they are only turning away from a greater good to a lesser good, and eventually they turn away from the Supreme Good which is God and deprive themselves of the only Source of lasting human happiness and fulfilment. The reason pleasure-seekers are never happy is that they are only chasing a shadow or an echo of the good.

Read the Book of Wisdom chapters 1-4 because it addresses this topic directly and in detail. Especially chapter 2 which covers the way hedonists think.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 21, 2019, 06:26:41 AM
but at the same time I don't see a refutation to Aquinas' first way.  The only other option would be pantheism: that the universe itself is uncaused and uncreated.
Don't you mean his second way, about the uncaused cause?
Because St. Thomas's first way is that stuff about potency and act, and an unmoved mover, which is only a good argument if Aristotle's metaphysics is true. I'm personally hesitant to accept the first way at the moment, since I do not yet know whether or not Aristotle got it right.
St. Thomas's second way, however, appears to be irrefutable... though I haven't yet thoroughly gone through it to see if it can be disproven.

but Plato had the audacity to ascribe goodness to the One, and I'm not sure how he arrived at that notion.
Wasn't it an identification rather than an ascription? If the One isn't nothing then the One must be Existence i.e. Goodness.

[. . .] I recently read a very interesting short story called Nethescurial, by Thomas Ligotti, about a pantheistic cult in which the universal god was believed to be evil.
I could imagine an evil God and that this world was a nightmare and the meaning of life was to seek out our own annihilation
The fact that good things exist proves that God isn't evil. Because if God is evil, where do the good things come from? (We can account for evil/nonbeing as a privation of good/being, but we cannot account for good/being as a privation of evil/nonbeing.)
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 06:46:57 AM
but Plato had the audacity to ascribe goodness to the One, and I'm not sure how he arrived at that notion.
Wasn't it an identification rather than an ascription? If the One isn't nothing then the One must be Existence i.e. Goodness.

Indeed, he made the identification. I think the reason must be obvious: the One of things is necessarily the Source of things, and if goodness exists in things it must be super-existent in the Source. The theological conundrum is how not to identify the One as the Source of evil as well as good. In fact, many ancient theologies define the One as being the principle of both Good & Evil. St. Augustine solved it by pointing out that evil has no metaphysical reality of its own, but is merely a decay from or absence of the good. Evil then is merely alienation from the Source, it is not of or in the Source. Plato (whom St. Augustine admired) thought along these lines, but he couldn't recognise the material world as arising immediately from the Source because of the evils present in the world; so he speculated an intermediary being called the Demiurge which emanated from the Source and created the material world. This false speculation lead to the Gnostic and Marcion heresies, and it comes from lack of knowledge of the real source of evil in the material world: the Fall. If Plato was more acquainted with Moses he'd know that the original creation was a perfect mirror of the Creator – the Good – and wouldn't have ascribed its making to an inferior being (i.e. the Demiurge).
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Gardener on January 21, 2019, 09:23:25 AM
You do realize of course that St. Alphonsous challenged the Banezian understanding such that Garrigou-Lagrange countered him in, I believe, his work titled “Grace”, right?

St. Alphonsous did not follow the Banezian understanding unfortunately repopularized by GL in the 20th century, but was a Congruist.

Yes, St. Alphonsus did disagree with Banez. There are some questions that remain to be clarified, as Cardinal Journet says, which is why the final definition has not yet come. St. Alphonsus defends intrinsically efficacious grace against Molina. He also denies negative reprobation. I think both of those are right. "negative reprobation" is a totally wrong idea that confused the issue completely. St. Alphonsus lays great stress on the point that reprobation is always consequent to faults and thoroughly deserved - both in a sermon on "the number of sins beyond which God pardons no more", which St. Alphonsus repeats in his work, "the true spouse of Jesus Christ" warning those in religious life especially, not to listen to the devil when he says, "you can sin mortally now and repent later", that any mortal sin could be their last, and cause them to die in final impenitence. So, here we have consequent or "ppd" reprobation.

No Thomist is obliged to agree with Banez on these and a few other points. We are Thomists because of St. Thomas.

Summary from St. Alphonsus: "And the more, because divine grace, by which alone men can gain eternal life, is dispensed more or less abundantly by God entirely gratuitously, and without any regard to our merits. So that to save ourselves it will always be necessary for us to throw ourselves into the arms of the divine mercy, in order that he may assist us with his grace to obtain salvation, trusting always in his infallible promises to hear and save the man who prays to him."

+Journet: "There are two schools of thought on this. One is that of St Thomas Aquinas which, through St Augustine, derives from St Paul—the great traditionalist school.

The other arose in the age of the baroque and of humanism. It is that of Molina, a Portuguese Jesuit who, on account of certain unresolved difficulties, wanted to explain in a way hitherto untried the relation of grace and freedom. God and man, he said, act like two horses on the tow-path of a canal drawing a boat. The actions of God and of man are supplementary like those of the horses. Molina thought of them as simply added one to the other. His doctrine has not been condemned, since he said, as regards the good act, God and man, grace and freedom. But, as we see, he transposed to within the circle the preceding error and if he did not set them against each other, at any rate he juxtaposed the divine and the human action. He did not sufficiently grasp the difference in plane between divine and human action and stressed unduly, to an extreme degree, the power of the human will. Here, expressed in accepted Christian terminology, we find again the example just given: God holds out his hand, I take it.

5. The traditional doctrine, the only one rooted in Revelation, has not yet been defined because there still remain certain questions to elucidate. But the definition will come, already the general line is clear: human action is subordinated to the divine action. It is not only God and man, grace and freedom, but God through man, grace through freedom, that does the good act. Is the rose produced by the rose-tree? Or by God? Or else partly by God, partly by the rose-tree? We must say: the rose is produced wholly by the rose-tree as secondary cause, and wholly by God as first cause, the enveloping cause. God gives the rose-tree the ability to produce the rose. God, acting on the rose-tree to make it produce the rose, does not diminish, but rather enriches, it. The more he intervenes, the more excellent will be the rose-tree the more powerful its action ... We come to man, a free being with intelligence and will, with his immortal soul greater than all the world; when God touches his soul he enables it to act according to its nature, which is to rule over things of a lower order. Freedom is not independence in relation to God: if God does not touch me, am I then free? O no! If God does not touch me, I act no more, I exist no more, I fall into nothingness. Freedom is to be found within God himself, as in its infinite source; the nearer I draw to God and the more I share in his rule over lower beings, the more I am free. My freedom is a dependence in relation to God, a dependence that gives me a power over and freedom of choice in regard to the lower things ... My soul keeps its power and freedom of choice. Then God, when he touches me according to my nature, does not infringe my freedom but, on the contrary, exalts it: 'God who made this delicate machine of our free-will is the only one who can move it without breaking it.' He does not impair natures, but makes them flourish. Who was more dependent on God than St Francis of Assisi, and who was freer? You could place him in any condition you like, throw him into a concentration-camp, he would still be in command of all that was lower in the scale of being, he would still be St Francis."

Tell the bold to Banezian Thomists. lol.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 21, 2019, 10:00:37 AM
Don't you mean his second way, about the uncaused cause?
Because St. Thomas's first way is that stuff about potency and act, and an unmoved mover, which is only a good argument if Aristotle's metaphysics is true. I'm personally hesitant to accept the first way at the moment, since I do not yet know whether or not Aristotle got it right.
St. Thomas's second way, however, appears to be irrefutable... though I haven't yet thoroughly gone through it to see if it can be disproven.

The first way and the second way seem like different phrasings of the same concept to me; I accept both of them.  I can see where I would need to take on Aristotle's metaphysics in order to get to his specific conceptualization of the prime mover, but logically I can arrive at the idea that there is (or likely is) one, because motion is something that exists in time.  A pantheist could say "motion is eternal and things have always been in flux" (which I think was the pre-Socratic idea, expressed by Heraclitus), but that seems to invite the same frustrating infinite regress as the pantheist notion that "there have always been causes."

I often wonder if I'm missing something in my rejection of the pantheist claims.  I can conceive of an eternity where life keeps going on forever, but for some reason I can't imagine a past that keeps receding forever.  No end seems possible, but not no beginning.  This might be a deficiency in my mortal and linear human thought, or maybe a person needs to go out into the desert and eat psilocybin mushrooms and gaze up at the stars under the tutelage of a shaman to see it.  But thinking about it gives me a kind of vertigo.

Wasn't it an identification rather than an ascription? If the One isn't nothing then the One must be Existence i.e. Goodness.

That's my problem with it.  "Existence = goodness" is a value judgement, and not something universally self-evident.  Plato is personally welcome to the claim.  A member of the Greek upper class who spent his time philosophizing and who was able to occupy his spare time with gazing rapturously on beautiful youths might be apt to equate existence with goodness.  Keith Richards and Saudi princes would probably assign existence an extreme level of goodness; Allahu Akbar indeed.  But that is subjective, and not all existence is worth having.  Christ Himself, speaking of Judas' fate, said as much for the soul who ends up in hell: "it is better for that man to have never been born."  Whether we want to apply this to a metaphysical concept such as hell, where more souls end up than do those who make it to heaven, or to a hell on earth such as the myriad animals born into factory farms, there are countless lives being lived that ultimately cannot be equated with goodness.

The fact that good things exist proves that God isn't evil. Because if God is evil, where do the good things come from? (We can account for evil/nonbeing as a privation of good/being, but we cannot account for good/being as a privation of evil/nonbeing.)

True, omnimalevolence runs into the same sort of problems as the claims for omnibenevolence.  An omnimalelovent creator would not permit goodness, and an omnibenevolent creator would not permit evil.  I guess an apologist for an evil deity could just say, "God allows goodness in order to bring about a greater evil," whatever that would entail.  It makes about as much sense as the reverse claim.  The only thing the observable world seems to prove is that God is neither; "impersonal" I guess would be the term.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 21, 2019, 03:40:39 PM
True, omnimalevolence runs into the same sort of problems as the claims for omnibenevolence.  An omnimalelovent creator would not permit goodness, and an omnibenevolent creator would not permit evil.  I guess an apologist for an evil deity could just say, "God allows goodness in order to bring about a greater evil," whatever that would entail.  It makes about as much sense as the reverse claim.  The only thing the observable world seems to prove is that God is neither; "impersonal" I guess would be the term.

Although it is impossible to give a fully satisfactory explanation for the existence of evil, the idea that God decrees and allows its existence for a greater good in an eschatological sense, is not logically unsound. It may be emotionally hard to accept given the seemingly random suffering that we experience, I grant it, but not logically so.

In the face of the other alternatives, it seems to be the correct answer.

God not existing renders the whole question void of any real meaning, so let's skip that one. An omnimalevolent God, the seemingly logical counterpart to God, would face the problem of defect since evil is a defect and God cannot have defects. Therefore, an omnimalevolent God would not exist as such. A God that is impersonal and detached from His creation would not account for the existence of moral values and the innate need humans have to relate to Him and be ultimately explained by Him, unless he were evil but then we're back to a God who has deficiencies and that cannot, by definition, exist.

An omnibenevolent God seems the best explanation by far of the data available. Evil remains a difficulty but a difficulty that can only be understood if God exists and God existing entails moral perfection, and thus omnibenevolence.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Arvinger on January 21, 2019, 05:38:29 PM
That's not a problem. Your problem is insisting upon confusing the grace that makes this freely-willed acceptance possible with God magically making a man's will no longer his own, believing man must turned into a puppet on a string by the grace to accept grace, yet still actually will something.
"Possible". But an individual has to excercise his potency to accept God's grace. Because man can't do anything apart from God, this decision to accept God's grace must also be a grace, unless man can make a free choice apart from God's grace. Therefore, man must receive grace of decision to accept graces in order to be saved - his acceptace or lack of thereof still depends on God's grace. This is why an explanation "they were damned for rejecting graces" moves the problem only one step back - to accept graces necessary for salvation they would have needed graces to make this decision.

Receiving un-asked-for power to do something, even if that something is to exercise my will to make a particular choice, is not a violation of the freedom of my will in general or in that decision.
I never argued against free will, just pointing out that Thomism taken to its logical conclusion denies it.

Quote
No, it doesn't. It just means they exercised their free will to refuse to cooperate.
To choose to cooperate they would have to receive grace of making a decision to cooperate. They could not have chosen to cooperate without this grace, unless you say that man is capable of making the right decision by himself, apart from God's grace. Therefore, when people are condemned for rejecting graces, they are condemned for something they were incapable of doing.

Quote
Without God's grace, there's no grace to accept in the first place, leaving man lost, and without a prevenient grace, man's will, bogged down in sin, is not free to choose to accept it, and so has no way to salvation.
True, but being offered graces is not enough to choose them - man must receive grace to make the right decision as well, since he can't do anything apart from God's grace. If he does not receive grace of making right decision, he can't choose to accept any graces he is offered.

Quote
That grace frees and empowers the will to be able choose God does not mean just its opposite.

But grace is necessary not only for having free will, but also excercising it to make a right decision. If man can make this decision by himself, it means he can do something apart from God's grace.

Quote
Beliveing in man actually having a really real free will is not any kind of Pelagianism, regardless of your turn of phrase.
I do believe in free will. Thomism leads to its effective denial - no matter how you slice it, at some point God did not give the damned graces to do something necessary for salvation, and they are condemned for doing something they were incapable of doing. Thomism taken to its logical conclusion does not differ much from Calvinism.

Quote
That doesn't resolve a contradiction. It leaves it there, and no appeal to a "mystery", that ubiquitous Latin copout, will ever make a logical contradiction possible. The proper response to a reductio ad absurdum is to get rid of a false premise that led one to it, not to declare the question of how a contradiction is possible a mystery so you can just stick with it.
Some things just are a mystery which we cannot understand, and we have to accept it. If you dig to the bottom of the issue, God willing to save all and not predestining all is an apparent contradiction (but I know it is only apparent and that it is not a realy contradiction, and a solution must exist, since both of these truths are taught by the Church). No theological system succeeded in resolving it, I'm content with leaving it as a mystery.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 06:16:57 PM
Critics of Thomistic doctrine of grace (Bañezian Thomism if we accept Gardener's clarification) always deny that what it calls sufficient grace is really sufficient. Just because sufficient grace does not bear any fruit in the soul due to man's sinful resistance to it – does not mean that it is useless or powerless in itself, or that it would not bear fruit if man were not to resist it. Yes, intrinsically efficacious grace is required over and above merely sufficient grace in order to convert and save a sinner: that does not mean that a man given merely sufficient grace can't be converted or can't be saved, rather it means he won't be converted or won't be saved: because of his refusal to co-operate with the grace given to him which is really sufficient to convert and save him, he won't be – i.e. he wills not to be – converted and wills not to be saved. If we look at Our Lady we see someone where the distinction between efficacious grace and sufficient grace is not necessary, because all grace was perfectly efficacious in her seeing as she never offered any resistance to it. The distinction between efficacious and merely sufficient grace arises out of man's resistance to God's grace, and in this sense: that once a man has hardened his heart towards God's grace, it is totally up to God's mercy to efficaciously move man's evil will to convert and receive His mercy, or to leave man to continually resist His grace and receive His justice. But the grace which God gives to the reprobate is not weak or insufficient to save him: it is merely wasted on the sinner who despises, rejects, and makes no use of what in itself is sufficiently powerful to save his soul.

Therefore, these statements . . .

Quote from: Arvinger
To choose to cooperate they would have to receive grace of making a decision to cooperate. They could not have chosen to cooperate without this grace, unless you say that man is capable of making the right decision by himself, apart from God's grace. Therefore, when people are condemned for rejecting graces, they are condemned for something they were incapable of doing.

Quote from: Arvinger
I do believe in free will. Thomism leads to its effective denial - no matter how you slice it, at some point God did not give the damned graces to do something necessary for salvation, and they are condemned for doing something they were incapable of doing. Thomism taken to its logical conclusion does not differ much from Calvinism.

. . . Are false and are an unfair description of Thomism. Arvinger says that Thomism describes the damned as being unable or incapable of "making the right decision" and doing "something necessary for salvation". This is false. Sufficient grace gives them the real capability, and Thomism affirms that all men receive sufficient grace.

This tends to agree with our experience – who, when tempted, after having sufficient time and awareness to deliberate whether or not to commit the sin, then later having committed the sin does not admit upon reflection: "I could have resisted the temptation", i.e. I could have co-operated with God's grace, i.e. I received sufficient grace, which I rejected in favour of the sin. We feel that we have the real power to resist temptation, but we often waste, or ignore, or refuse that power given to us because we'd prefer to sin. And what is that power which we sinfully forego? – The sufficient grace of God. We don't feel as though we're being infallibly pulled towards sin by a power beyond our control, and that we don't have the power to resist temptation as to imply that God does not give us sufficient grace to do good (now that would be Calvinism). When we do feel something like that it is almost always the passions and weaknesses and addictions of the flesh which pull on us, and in those cases our culpability is less and God more easily forgives us because He understands our frailty. But there are sins of frailty arising out of our weakness, and sins of malice arising from the hardness of our hearts . . . But even in the most hardened of hearts and in the weakest of sinners overcome by addiciton, at the bottom of the soul there is always this seed (however tiny), this light (however dim), this voice (however quiet) which says: "you know, you could do otherwise, and you could be forgiven". This is sufficient grace which is given to everyone, and it is powerful enough of itself to save everyone if not for our wickedness.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Arvinger on January 21, 2019, 06:52:31 PM
Critics of Thomistic doctrine of grace (Bañezian Thomism if we accept Gardener's clarification) always deny that what it calls sufficient grace is really sufficient. Just because sufficient grace does not bear any fruit in the soul due to man's sinful resistance to it – does not mean that it is useless or powerless in itself, or that it would not bear fruit if man were not to resist it. Yes, intrinsically efficacious grace is required over and above merely sufficient grace in order to convert and save a sinner: that does not mean that a man given merely sufficient grace can't be converted or can't be saved, rather it means he won't be converted or won't be saved: because of his refusal to co-operate with the grace given to him which is really sufficient to convert and save him, he won't be – i.e. he wills not to be – converted and wills not to be saved. t once a man has hardened his heart towards God's grace, it is totally up to God's mercy to efficaciously move .
You confuse possibility with potency. "Sufficient grace" is insufficient to convert a sinner and insufficient to bring any fruit in his life, by your own admition, and efficacious grace is necessary to save him. What is "suficient grace" sufficient for, then? It makes salvation a theoretical possibility, but without actual potency it is worthless, as it is metaphisically incapable of breaking man's resistance. In order to convert man has to receive efficacious grace, otherwise he is incapable of accepting sufficient grace. Therefore, if he does not receive efficaciois grace he is condemned for rejecting sufficient grace which he was incapable of accepting to begin with. Ergo, in Thomism God fails to provide graces necessary for salvation to some, which makes it little different from Calvinism.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 07:13:12 PM
Sufficient grace confers a real power or potency in the soul, is sufficient to convert and save a soul, and would bear this spiritual fruit if not resisted. Man is really capable of co-operating with merely sufficient grace, he simply chooses not to (hence, it is merely sufficient, as opposed to efficacious). God provides all men with the graces necessary for salvation in a conditional sense, i.e. on the condition that they do not refuse His grace. But after having refused His grace, absolutely speaking only some are given the grace necessary for salvation. Still, if some are damned that it is not because God refuses grace, but because man resists the sufficient grace which God gives to all men and which is sufficient to save them on the condition that they freely co-operate with it. Man is always free to co-operate with God's grace. God never leaves men in a situation where they "can't accept" or are "forced to reject" God's grace. The resistance of the reprobate to God's sufficient grace is a free resistance, a free denial to co-operate with sufficient grace for which they have the real power to co-operate. Sufficient grace itself gives men sufficient power to co-operate with it: otherwise it wouldn't be sufficient. Efficacious grace not only gives men the sufficient power to co-operate with grace, but in addition it actively moves them freely to co-operate. That God denies some men this efficacious grace is only because of their sinful resistance to sufficient grace, and He is perfectly just in this denial of utterly gratuitous grace; and that God gives some men efficacious grace despite their initial resistance to sufficient grace is due to His superabundant mercy.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 21, 2019, 07:32:16 PM
God not existing renders the whole question void of any real meaning, so let's skip that one.

Happily.

An omnimalevolent God, the seemingly logical counterpart to God, would face the problem of defect since evil is a defect and God cannot have defects.

Here I think we go astray.  When we say "God cannot have defects," we make a metaphysical assumption along the same lines as Plato and Aristotle made.  The logic of cause and effect has only gotten us to: "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" and, as Aquinas says, "we call this God."  Well and good.  That same logic, however, cannot get us to know the nature of this entity.  How can we know whether it has no defects or not?  The only thing we can know is that an imperfect world has proceeded from it.  This would appear to rule out omnibenevolence or perfection.  This entity could be an unthinking and unfeeling monad, caring not for (or being completely ignorant of) whatever proceeds or emanates from it.

The only refutation of an omnimalevolent God would be the existence of goodness or pleasure; a refutation, unfortunately, that cuts both ways and negates an omnibenevolent God as well, due to the existence of evil or suffering.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on January 21, 2019, 08:20:56 PM
Sufficient grace confers a real power or potency in the soul, is sufficient to convert and save a soul, and would bear this spiritual fruit if not resisted. Man is really capable of co-operating with merely sufficient grace, he simply chooses not to (hence, it is merely sufficient, as opposed to efficacious). God provides all men with the graces necessary for salvation in a conditional sense, i.e. on the condition that they do not refuse His grace. But after having refused His grace, absolutely speaking only some are given the grace necessary for salvation. Still, if some are damned that it is not because God refuses grace, but because man resists the sufficient grace which God gives to all men and which is sufficient to save them on the condition that they freely co-operate with it. Man is always free to co-operate with God's grace. God never leaves men in a situation where they "can't accept" or are "forced to reject" God's grace. The resistance of the reprobate to God's sufficient grace is a free resistance, a free denial to co-operate with sufficient grace for which they have the real power to co-operate. Sufficient grace itself gives men sufficient power to co-operate with it: otherwise it wouldn't be sufficient. Efficacious grace not only gives men the sufficient power to co-operate with grace, but in addition it actively moves them freely to co-operate. That God denies some men this efficacious grace is only because of their sinful resistance to sufficient grace, and He is perfectly just in this denial of utterly gratuitous grace; and that God gives some men efficacious grace despite their initial resistance to sufficient grace is due to His superabundant mercy.

1.  A potency is not "sufficient" for an act.  It is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.  Thus "sufficient" grace is not sufficient in and of itself.  Yes, I know you will say it is "sufficient" in the sense that efficacious grace will follow if it is not resisted.  SO, therefore:
2.  Is resistance to sufficient grace an evil?
2a.  If no, how is it just for God to deny the efficacious grace?
2b.  If yes (which seems to be your opinion because you call resistance to sufficient grace "sinful"), then what is is the good to which this evil is opposed (e.g. is a defect of)?
2b.1. And whatever this good is, is man expected to produce it all by himself?
2b.1a.  If yes, then this is violation of the principle that God is First Cause of all good.
2b.1b.  If no, then again God is punishing man for failing to bring about a good which he could not bring about on his own, and which He failed to cause.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 08:31:07 PM
Here I think we go astray.  When we say "God cannot have defects," we make a metaphysical assumption along the same lines as Plato and Aristotle made.  The logic of cause and effect has only gotten us to: "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" and, as Aquinas says, "we call this God."  Well and good.  That same logic, however, cannot get us to know the nature of this entity.  How can we know whether it has no defects or not?

Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness. That is, we wouldn't know what a "defect" is, ultimately, if not for this transcendent uncreated Good & First Cause of all created goods.

This is what Aquinas is getting at in his fourth way:

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

To be ipsum esse subsistens implies being in such a way that nothing could be added or taken away because of the infinity of perfection. There is no good even conceivable which is not ultimately possible to, or included in, or perfectly exemplified by the eternal & transcendent Self-subsisting Being.

Quote
The only thing we can know is that an imperfect world has proceeded from it.


But, outside of divine revelation, we don't the manner of the proceeding.

There is a certain evil that is necessarily included in the definition of all created beings: defectibility (i.e. as created or limited beings we are inherently subject to defects, unlike the unlimited Being which is not even subject to defect, as discussed above). And in material beings: corruptibility (i.e. material things can be dissolved and lose their very being thereby, and in animals specifically that means death).
So a benevolent Creator can't be blamed for creating things which of their very nature are defectible, as long as He intends to bring them to their proper end or good. That indeed would be like calling for the destruction of all food & drink because some people use them defectively and become overweight – should we all starve to death because some people are immoderate? Should God have avoided creating creatures since they are potentially defectible?

The problem of evil is not the potential defectibility of creatures, but the fact that some creatures actually have defected. And, in the case of the material world, the entire world has been made subject to defection ("subject to vanity", as St. Paul phrases it). This is the "problem of evil": that living things die and rot, among other natural catastrophes.

But divine revelation approaches a satisfactory answer: God only made the material world subject to defect, because of the supreme kind of evil which is moral evil – the defect of spiritual creatures. If it were not for the defect of spiritual creatures, the material world would not have had any defect and death, pain, and disease would never have entered the world. The defect of spiritual creatures is an abuse of their free-will so God is not morally responsible even if He permits it. All of the material evils which we see in the world are really a shadow of the spiritual evils present in the immaterial world. If there were no sin, there would be no death: this is the testament of divine revelation in the scriptures.

So yes, an imperfect world did proceed from God: but only through an intermediary. The original creation that proceeded from Him was "very good", as Genesis says; the imperfection or defect in the world proceeded through Adam & the serpent, beings created by God with the power to freely rebel against Him and subject themselves and their descendants to this curse under which we are presently suffering. Whether one accepts this testimony of divine revelation or not the unbiased thinker must admit its logical coherence and plausibility. Failure to do so is usually an inability to grasp how great moral/spiritual evils are in comparison to natural/material evils. But if we were all saints the sufferings of this life would be relatively easy to bear; the truth is that our really bitter sufferings are those we do to ourselves and each other, not those others which God permits in order to check & punish our pride. As for the innocent who suffer at the hands of the wicked – this is the trial of faith in this life: to wait for God's mercy on the innocent & justice on the wicked.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 08:47:42 PM
1.  A potency is not "sufficient" for an act.  It is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.  Thus "sufficient" grace is not sufficient in and of itself.  Yes, I know you will say it is "sufficient" in the sense that efficacious grace will follow if it is not resisted.

Not sufficient to produce it in the realm of facts, but sufficient to produce it in the realm of possibilities: and that's all we're talking about here, because we're demonstrating that God makes it at least conditionally possible for all men to be saved.

Granted that according to Thomism it is not absolutely possible for all men to be saved due to the infallibility of the eternal decrees; still, God does not decree anything in a way that takes away man's freedom or responsibility in choosing his everlasting destiny.

Quote
2.  Is resistance to sufficient grace an evil?
2a.  If no, how is it just for God to deny the efficacious grace?
2b.  If yes (which seems to be your opinion because you call resistance to sufficient grace "sinful"), then what is is the good to which this evil is opposed (e.g. is a defect of)? [Answer: Charity, which is the full or proper form of co-operation with God's grace.]
2b.1. And whatever this good is, is man expected to produce it all by himself?
2b.1a.  If yes, then this is violation of the principle that God is First Cause of all good.
2b.1b.  If no, then again God is punishing man for failing to bring about a good which he could not bring about on his own, and which He failed to cause. [Answer: God is not punishing man merely for failing to love Him, but for actively refusing to love Him despite God's giving him the grace to do so. God would not withdraw efficacious grace if sufficient grace were not initially resisted: the punishment follows the sin.]

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 21, 2019, 09:03:58 PM
Here I think we go astray.  When we say "God cannot have defects," we make a metaphysical assumption along the same lines as Plato and Aristotle made.  The logic of cause and effect has only gotten us to: "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" and, as Aquinas says, "we call this God."  Well and good.  That same logic, however, cannot get us to know the nature of this entity.  How can we know whether it has no defects or not?

Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness.

I would have to disagree, John Lamb.  What you claim is implicit in that definition seems only implicit on your own say-so; the ipso facto in there is an assumption.  Observably there are many people in existence who are completely ignorant of this "Standard by which we measure all things," and who instead measure things according to their own whims or self-gratification, or who in the past have measured things according to deities who were appeased by human sacrifice (and there still exist tribes in Papua New Guinea who practice cannibalism, as well as ritual sodomy upon children).  Whatever things the uncaused cause has loaned to us, a universal standard does not appear to be among them, else we would all be in agreement on what is good.

But I do agree with your claim that "outside of divine revelation, we don't know the manner of the proceeding."  This is correct.  Logic can only get us to the (unadulterated) uncaused cause.  We can't know by the lights of logic whether this is Jehovah, Brahman, a Pythagorean monad, the One, or some mystery we will never know what.  If there is a knowable nature of the uncaused cause, this precise nature must be revealed.  It is not arrived at by logic.

So yes, an imperfect world did proceed from God: but only through an intermediary.

Neither Moses nor Plato sufficiently resolves the problem.  Whether the imperfection proceeds through Original Sin or the incompetence of a Demiurge, both intermediaries are permitted by (or proceed from, respectively) God or the One, who must therefore answer for them.  As all things recede back into the uncaused cause, so too, ultimately, does all responsibility.  It's like the placard Harry Truman kept on his desk:

(https://www.dannorenberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/thebuckstopshere_dn_2018.jpg)
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 09:27:30 PM
Here I think we go astray.  When we say "God cannot have defects," we make a metaphysical assumption along the same lines as Plato and Aristotle made.  The logic of cause and effect has only gotten us to: "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" and, as Aquinas says, "we call this God."  Well and good.  That same logic, however, cannot get us to know the nature of this entity.  How can we know whether it has no defects or not?

Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness.

I would have to disagree, John Lamb.  What you claim is implicit in that definition seems only implicit on your own say-so; the ipso facto in there is an assumption.  Observably there are many people in existence who are completely ignorant of this "Standard by which we measure all things," and who instead measure things according to their own whims or self-gratification, or who in the past have measured things according to deities who were appeased by human sacrifice (and there still exist tribes in Papua New Guinea who practice cannibalism, as well as ritual sodomy upon children).  Whatever things the uncaused cause has loaned to us, a universal standard does not appear to be among them, else we would all be in agreement on what is good.

As Aristotle observes very profoundly: the more general an intellectual principle is, the more intelligible it is in itself, the more obscure it is to our minds. It is like the eyes being blurred by the overabundant light of the sun. Aquinas notes that the intellects of composite creatures such as ourselves – who are part spiritual and part material – has for its immediate object the individual substances known by the senses. That explains why the ultimate Standard, the Supreme Good, which is the most supremely Intelligible object in itself, to us remains almost impossibly obscure so that St. Paul speaks of us seeing "in a glass darkly", as our intellects are submerged in the sensual world, especially with all the passion and malice arising from our corrupt nature which further blinds us to the truth. This is why philosophers, sages, and mystics – those most far removed from material life – are the ones most acquainted with it and still then only partially and very obscurely.

Still, that this notion of divine Standard or Supreme Good is implied in all our value judgements is something which is definitely true, although even this is one of those philosophical judgements which is difficult for us to grasp (it is Aquinas' fourth way and basically the whole of Plato's philosophy). But as much as you find ignorance of this principle among men, you also find a vague kind of knowledge of it. For example, in the understanding of so many primitive peoples that there is a God above who is going to judge their actions and who expects good and not evil from them. That their understanding of God and His laws might be imperfect does not take away from its general correctness. That there are some individuals or tribes that have fallen into the worse idolatry or most despairing atheism is really the exception to the rule and only shows just how corruptible and corrupt human nature is.

Read: http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/diabolist.html

Quote
Neither Moses nor Plato sufficiently resolves the problem.  Whether the imperfection proceeds through Original Sin or the incompetence of a Demiurge, both intermediaries proceed from (or are permitted by) God or the One, who must therefore answer for them.  As all things recede back into the uncaused cause, so too, ultimately, does all responsibility.

Not all responsibility, seeing as the evils which proceed directly from our own malice are our own responsibility at least morally speaking. I suppose that God has ultimate responsibility for all things metaphysically speaking however. In any case, whatever He has to answer for He has promised to answer at the end of time, which is fair seeing as time is short and He has only permitted this to test us and see what we'll make of the freedom He's graciously endowed us with. And for the time being, He's given us His Son to let us know that we are not abandoned by Him, which is certainly far more than we could ever dare to ask.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 21, 2019, 09:51:13 PM
A thought experiment I like to use to help understand why God permits so many sufferings in the world, and why moral evils are so much graver than natural evils, is: imagine if Nero or Hitler were immortal (I'm speaking of bodily immortality, no doubt their souls persist). Imagine if their lifespan was not capped at 120 years at the most but would go on instead for 10,000 years, and then 10,000 years more, forever. Imagine if they succeeded in cementing their tyrannical hold over the world forever.

Death is the answer to human pride. It puts us in our place. Every tyrant and greedy miser knows that he's going to be separated from all his power & wealth in the near future. That puts a limit on the evils they can perform. Not only that, but it gives them a stern reminder to repent before they die and lose everything. If people knew they were going to carry on living for millions of years without repercussion there is no conceivable limit to the pride & malice they would foster in their hearts. Death gives rest to the weary and it cuts the wicked off from their evil works. Although it's a horrible thing in itself, it's a better thing that we die so long as we're subject to the corruption of original sin and are a horror to ourselves. Only in our resurrected bodies when we're restored to a state of purity will life really be worth living again. What makes the present life worth living is faith in a Redeemer, hope of a better life, love of our co-sufferers.

At the end of the world there will be people cursing God for making them beautiful, because their beauty caused them to fall; and people praising God for allowing them to be ugly, because it saved them from temptation. There will be people cursing God for making them rich, and praising Him for making them poor. Cursing Him for making them famous, praising Him for letting them remain unknown. Cursing Him for letting them live to old age, praising Him for letting them die young.
But right now we can't fathom any of this:

Quote
When the same Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgements of God, he asked, 'Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?' He heard a voice answering him, 'Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgement of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.'
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 21, 2019, 10:00:12 PM
Still, that this notion of divine Standard or Supreme Good is implied in all our value judgements is something which is definitely true, although even this is one of those philosophical judgements which is difficult for us to grasp (it is Aquinas' fourth way and basically the whole of Plato's philosophy). But as much as you find ignorance of this principle among men, you also find a vague kind of knowledge of it. For example, in the understanding of so many primitive peoples that there is a God above who is going to judge their actions and who expects good and not evil from them. That their understanding of God and His laws might be imperfect does not take away from its general correctness. That there are some individuals or tribes that have fallen into the worse idolatry or most despairing atheism is really the exception to the rule and only shows just how corruptible and corrupt human nature is.

To be clear, though, I wasn't talking strictly about idolatry or cannibalism.  Those were just two of the more egregious examples I could think of off-hand.  Cannibalism certainly constitutes an exception to the rule, for sure, but idolatry has always been widespread and I don't think we need to enumerate all the deviations from what we consider good or virtuous that have occurred throughout history—from the pederasty of the Greeks and Romans to the polygamy and animal sacrifice of the Hebrews and Mohammedans to the sati of the Hindoos to the infanticide of nearly every ancient civilization, et al., &c.  The French practiced recreational cat-burning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  It is fine if we want to say with Aristotle that the Standard is obscure and difficult to perceive, but such a notion is also entirely compatible with a standard that does not actually exist.  Rather there would simply be an emerging and changing morality that evolves through trial and error and with fits and starts—and which still continues to this day as we witness hideous new approaches to morality in our own age.  But at this point we would be back to our contention over whether humankind is seven thousand or two hundred thousand years old, and there of course we disagree.  Peace be with you.

At the end of the world there will be people cursing God [...] for letting them live to old age.

If Catholicism is true, then this will definitely be my lot at the Last Judgment.  I would much rather have died before reaching the age of reason.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on January 22, 2019, 12:12:52 AM
Quote from: Pon
Logic can only get us to the (unadulterated) uncaused cause.  We can't know by the lights of logic whether this is Jehovah, Brahman, a Pythagorean monad, the One, or some mystery we will never know what.

Sure we can, Pon. Who is the God Who consistently taught Israel and in time the whole world that that there was One Supreme Creator? It was only Jehovah, the God Who revealed Himself to Abraham and Moses Who did that. I don't think you will deny that for more than at least a 1000 years before some good Greek philosophers, at length and with difficulty, finally apprehended this truth and discovered philosophically the First Cause, historically speaking, the Lord God Jehovah had proclaimed it to His Prophets to be announced in His Name.

Interestingly, there are some monotheistic traditions even in Hinduism, which is probably the only main polytheistic religion of today. Of course, it was not consistently taught that there is One Supreme God, and thus by some estimates you have like 33 crore claimed gods today, so the notion of one God and Father of all is lost. Much later reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy in India tried to bring back the idea of the Supreme Being. "Brahmo Samaj believe in the existence of One Supreme God — "a God, endowed with a distinct personality & moral attributes equal to His nature, and intelligence befitting the Author and Preserver of the Universe," and worship Him alone." Wiki

Thus, God was not operative to prevent error in Hinduism, as He was in Israel, otherwise the doctrine of One God would have been preserved.

In brief, we know Who the Uncaused Cause is historically because only One God consistently taught the world that there is only One Creator of heaven and earth, and all things within them.

Similarly, we can know God is Good through conscience and natural law.

Natural Conscience is God's first witness that the God Who gave us that conscience is unchangeably Good - and is always inspiring us to eschew what is evil and choose what is good. Hence we believe as St. Paul says, "the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them" (Rom 2:15).

The argument that some rejected what their conscience told them - St. Augustine and St. Chrysostom mention this was part of the reason that the eternal Lawgiver decided that the Law written on human hearts was now to be written on tablets of stone and left as an everlasting testimony to man - only shows man is free to reject even what he knows, as he can reject even the Scriptural witness after knowing it, not that he was unable to come to the knowledge (at least in a very basic and elementary way) of good and evil.

To put it as a syllogism,

1. All of us know some acts (killing innocents, rape and sexual abuse, torturing children etc) are objectively wrong and we are bound to avoid them.
2. Therefore, there is a law naturally discernible by our conscience that prescribes what we should avoid.
3. This law cannot be caused by any creature because it is unchanging and eternal
4. It can only come from our eternal Creator, Who consequently is known to be the source of the natural moral law, and so Goodness itself.

If we can know that some acts are always evil, we know there is a law that guides our actions toward seeking Good and avoiding evil. But this could not have arisen through blind forces, and thus conscience leads to God. The 4th way of St. Thomas proceeds along similar lines.

Your thoughts, Pon?

Eta: on the other thing, I agree with Gardener that Banez was wrong. St. Alphonsus rejects "negative reprobation". Cardinal Journet shows the Thomistic Tradition.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 22, 2019, 07:02:56 AM
Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness. That is, we wouldn't know what a "defect" is, ultimately, if not for this transcendent uncreated Good & First Cause of all created goods.
This is what I don't get. If the standard is God, then it follows that the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles God. But this is false. Because cats are supposed to be catlike, not Godlike. They should be corporeal, not spiritual. Irrational, not rational. Cats are not supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. etc. So 'good' cats are not the cats which resemble God. Rather, the 'good' cats are those cats which more closely resemble the Form of Cat. And the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles the Form of Cat. Unless we admit that the Forms are God, then the standard is the Forms, not God. But I'm not sure how we can admit that the Forms are God, seeing as the Forms are complex and many and defined whereas God is simple and one and infinite.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 22, 2019, 07:54:17 AM
.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 22, 2019, 09:32:56 AM
Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness. That is, we wouldn't know what a "defect" is, ultimately, if not for this transcendent uncreated Good & First Cause of all created goods.
This is what I don't get. If the standard is God, then it follows that the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles God. But this is false. Because cats are supposed to be catlike, not Godlike. They should be corporeal, not spiritual. Irrational, not rational. Cats are not supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. etc. So 'good' cats are not the cats which resemble God. Rather, the 'good' cats are those cats which more closely resemble the Form of Cat. And the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles the Form of Cat. Unless we admit that the Forms are God, then the standard is the Forms, not God.

The more catlike a cat is the more godlike it is in being whole in its nature and complete in its being. All things are godlike to a certain degree, in that a trace of God's being is present in all things. Insofar as a thing has being it is a partial reflection of the eternal self-subsistent Being, and the more closely a being reflects the self-subsisting Being the more godlike it is. So plants are more godlike than minerals, because they have an intrinsic motion; animals are more godlike than plants, because they have sense knowledge which allows them greater self-directed movement; men are more godlike than animals, because we have rational souls which are free & immortal with the power of intellectual knowledge; and angels are more godlike than men because they are not subject to any corruption and their intellectual knowledge is more perfect and less reliant on externals.

 
Quote
But I'm not sure how we can admit that the Forms are God, seeing as the Forms are complex and many and defined whereas God is simple and one and infinite.

All the Forms exist in God in a united way, and God knows all the Forms through knowing His essence in one single united act of His divine intellect.

From Aquinas,
Dionysius likewise says: “Therefore, in knowing itself, the divine wisdom knows all things—the material immaterially, the divisible indivisibly, and the many unitedly” [De div. nom. VII, 2].

The whole article,

THAT GOD DOES NOT UNDERSTAND BY COMPOSING AND DIVIDING

[1] Through the same means we can also show that the divine intellect does not understand in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect.

[2] For the divine intellect knows all things by knowing its own essence. Now it does not know its own essence by composing and dividing, since it knows itself as it is and there is no composition in it. It does not, therefore, know in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect.

[3] Moreover, what is composed and divided by the intellect is of a nature to be considered separately by it. For there would be no need of composition and division if by apprehending the essence of a thing we grasped what belonged in it and what did not. If, then, God understood in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect, it would follow that He did not consider all things by one intuition but each thing separately. We have shown the contrary of this above.

[4] Furthermore, there can be no before and after in God. But composition and division come after the consideration of the essence, which is their principle. Hence, composition and division cannot be found in the operation of the divine intellect.

[5] Again, the proper object of the intellect is what a thing is. Hence, in relation to what a thing is the intellect suffers no deception except by accident, whereas as concerns composition and division it is deceived. So, too, a sense dealing with its proper sensibles is always true, but in other cases it is deceived. But in the divine intellect there is nothing accidental, but only that which is substantial. In the divine intellect, therefore, there is no composition and division, but only the simple apprehension of a thing.

[6] Furthermore, in the case of a proposition formed by a composing and dividing intellect, the composition itself exists in the intellect, not in the thing that is outside the soul. If the divine intellect should judge of things in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect, the intellect itself will be composite. This is impossible, as is clear from what has been said.

[7] Again, the composing and dividing intellect judges diverse things by diverse compositions, for the composition of the intellect does not exceed the terms of the composition. Hence, the intellect does not judge the triangle to be a figure by the same composition by which it judges man to be an animal. Now, composition or division is a certain operation of the intellect. If, then, God considers things by means of composing and dividing, it will follow that His understanding is not solely one but many. And thus His essence, as well, will not be solely one, since His intellectual operation is His essence, as was proved above.

[8] But it is not on this account necessary for us to say that God does not know enunciables. For His essence, being one and simple, is the exemplar of all manifold and composite things. And thus God knows through His essence all multitude and composition both of nature and of reason.

[9] With these conclusions the authority of Sacred Scripture is in harmony. For it is said in Isaiah (55:8): “For My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Yet it is said in a Psalm (93:11): “The Lord knows the thoughts of men,” which thoughts evidently proceed through composition and division in the intellect.

[10] Dionysius likewise says: “Therefore, in knowing itself, the divine wisdom knows all things—the material immaterially, the divisible indivisibly, and the many unitedly” [De div. nom. VII, 2].

https://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/ContraGentiles1.htm#58


See also chapters 51-52, 53 & 55.

Now, the divine intellect understands by no species other than the divine essence, as was shown above. Nevertheless, the divine essence is the likeness of all things. Thereby it follows that the conception of the divine intellect as understanding itself, which is its Word, is the likeness not only of God Himself understood, but also of all those things of which the divine essence is the likeness. In this way, therefore, through one intelligible species, which is the divine essence, and through one understood intention, which is the divine Word, God can understand many things.

Plato's Ideas are mentioned:

But the divine essence comprehends within itself the nobilities of all beings, not indeed compositely, but, as we have shown above, according to the mode of perfection. Now, every form, both proper and common, considered as positing something, is a certain perfection; it includes imperfection only to the extent that it falls short of true being. The intellect of God, therefore, can comprehend in His essence that which is proper to each thing by understanding wherein the divine essence is being imitated and wherein each thing falls short of its perfection. Thus, by understanding His essence as imitable in the mode of life and not of knowledge, God has the proper form of a plant; and if He knows His essence as imitable in the mode of knowledge and not of intellect, God has the proper form of animal, and so forth. Thus, it is clear that, being absolutely perfect, the divine essence can be taken as the proper exemplar of singulars. Through it, therefore, God can have a proper knowledge of all things.

Since, however, the proper exemplar of one thing is distinguished from the proper exemplar of another thing, and distinction is the source of plurality, we must observe in the divine intellect a certain distinction and plurality of understood exemplars, according as that which is in the divine intellect is the proper exemplar of diverse things. Hence, since this obtains according as God understands the proper relation of resemblance that each creature has to Him, it remains that the exemplars of things in the divine intellect are many or distinct only according as God knows that things can be made to resemble Him by many and diverse modes. In accord with this, Augustine says that God made man and a horse by distinct exemplars. He also says that the exemplars of things are a plurality in the divine mind. This conclusion likewise saves to some extent the opinion of Plato and his doctrine of Ideas, according to which would be formed everything that is found among material things.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 22, 2019, 10:23:57 AM
Who is the God Who consistently taught Israel and in time the whole world that that there was One Supreme Creator? It was only Jehovah, the God Who revealed Himself to Abraham and Moses Who did that. I don't think you will deny that for more than at least a 1000 years before some good Greek philosophers, at length and with difficulty, finally apprehended this truth and discovered philosophically the First Cause, historically speaking, the Lord God Jehovah had proclaimed it to His Prophets to be announced in His Name.

Hola, Xavier.  It is true that the ancient Hebrews had a monotheism before the ancient Greeks, but let us not neglect the differences.  We need only consider something which John Lamb mentioned earlier in the thread: that Plato would've benefited from reading Moses.  I wonder what Plato would've made of the Torah.  He would've found a form of monotheism, yes, but at the same time he would've noticed all the ways in which the God of the Jews resembled the anthropomorphic gods of the Greek pantheon, or what QMR aptly calls "a tantrums and thunderbolts god"—one who gets jealous and enraged, causes natural disasters, is pleased with animal sacrifices, and issues intricate legal decrees ranging from forbidding the consumption of pork and shellfish to stoning a bride to death if she is found not to be a virgin.  I doubt if even the Greek gods were so peculiar as to make a covenant by the mark of a genital mutilation.
 
Essentially, Plato would've found in Moses the religion that would one day become Islam.  Greek monotheism by comparison was much less coarse and primitive, and far more transcendent than anything in Moses, especially lacking the later Hellenistic-tinged wisdom of Ecclesiastes.  Without the mediating influence of Christianity, Moses is unpersuasive.  Marcion was probably right to jettison the whole thing.  With apologies for this, but as the poet Ezra Pound (who carried the torch of Greco-Roman thought somewhat unapologetically) put it: "to hell wiff Abraham.  Most of the constructive so-called Xtn ideas are out of the stoics.  In fact, I should suggest that all Christian decency is sheer stoic.  I doubt if any single ethical idea now honoured comes from Jewry."  Ezra Pound was something of an anti-Semite, so we can allow for a bit of hyperbole, but his remarks contain a certain truth.  It is not until you get to Philo of Alexandria and then to the Neoplatonist Church Fathers that the Hebrew conception of God finally begins to become credible, and then only by an immersion in Greek monotheism.

To put it as a syllogism,

1. All of us know some acts (killing innocents, rape and sexual abuse, torturing children etc) are objectively wrong and we are bound to avoid them.
2. Therefore, there is a law naturally discernible by our conscience that prescribes what we should avoid.
3. This law cannot be caused by any creature because it is unchanging and eternal
4. It can only come from our eternal Creator, Who consequently is known to be the source of the natural moral law, and so Goodness itself.

If we can know that some acts are always evil, we know there is a law that guides our actions toward seeking Good and avoiding evil. But this could not have arisen through blind forces, and thus conscience leads to God. The 4th way of St. Thomas proceeds along similar lines.

Your thoughts, Pon?

My thoughts are that this syllogism seems to fail on its first point.  As the 17th-century French cat-burners proved (among a billion other examples that could be offered), it is not known to everyone that killing innocents is wrong.  Presumably cat-burning originally emerged from Descartes' idea that animals were insensate automatons which could not feel pain, but once it took off I'm sure the average commoners in the village square were not at all versed in Cartesian philosophy, and instead were only crass and cruel human primates who thrilled to hear the anguished howls of cats being burned alive. 

The members of NAMBLA, to take another example, do not believe that sodomizing children is wrong.  Their whole mission statement is that they should be allowed to do it.  They are not alone in history on this point.  The Greeks and Romans tolerated it, and certain tribes of Papua New Guinea even ritualized a form of it.  Whatever uncaused cause is at the source of all existence (and / or is existence itself), it isn't writing a proscription against this practice on everyone's heart.  Who knows what it wants us to do?  Hopefully it is as positively repulsed by this stuff as you and I, but the thunderbolts from the sky fall at random, killing the righteous and the wicked without discrimination.  For all we know, the Papuan sodomy-and-cannibalism tribes think they're attuned to the Standard of all goodness.  They might believe that the Great Goo-Goo has decreed these rites from the beginning of time, and that everywhere else the light of truth has been obscured in the eyes of the unbelievers.  The intractable problem of claiming a specific divinely-given morality is that anyone with a claim to a god can simply say theirs is the standard.  It all ends in subjectivity.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 22, 2019, 10:46:36 AM
Hola, Xavier.  It is true that the ancient Hebrews had a monotheism before the ancient Greeks, but let us not neglect the differences.  We need only consider something which John Lamb mentioned earlier in the thread: that Plato would've benefited from reading Moses.  I wonder what Plato would've made of the Torah.  He would've found a form of monotheism, yes, but at the same time he would've noticed all the ways in which the God of the Jews resembled the anthropomorphic gods of the Greek pantheon, or what QMR aptly calls "a tantrums and thunderbolts god"—one who gets jealous and enraged, causes natural disasters, is pleased with animal sacrifices, and issues intricate legal decrees ranging from forbidding the consumption of pork and shellfish to stoning a bride to death if she is found not to be a virgin.  I doubt if even the Greek gods were so peculiar as to make a covenant by the mark of a genital mutilation.
 
Essentially, Plato would've found in Moses the religion that would one day become Islam.  Greek monotheism by comparison was much less coarse and primitive, and far more transcendent than anything in Moses, especially lacking the later Hellenistic-tinged wisdom of Ecclesiastes.  Without the mediating influence of Christianity, Moses is unpersuasive.  Marcion was probably right to jettison the whole thing.  With apologies for this, but as the poet Ezra Pound (who carried the torch of Greco-Roman thought somewhat unapologetically) put it: "to hell wiff Abraham.  Most of the constructive so-called Xtn ideas are out of the stoics.  In fact, I should suggest that all Christian decency is sheer stoic.  I doubt if any single ethical idea now honoured comes from Jewry."  Ezra Pound was something of an anti-Semite, so we can allow for a bit of hyperbole, but his remarks contain a certain truth.  It is not until you get to Philo of Alexandria and then to the Neoplatonist Church Fathers that the Hebrew conception of God finally begins to become credible, and then only by an immersion in Greek monotheism.

This seems to me simply a superficial and unfair reading of the Old Testament.  I personally think that Plato would have been singularly impressed by the Torah, and recognised in it something more solid, more authentic, and more awe-inspiring than anything which he accomplished with his highly poetic but vague Timaeus or his well-reasoned but merely speculative Laws. Though Plato may be unmatched in ancient literature for poetic flights of intellectual speculation, there is nothing in Plato as booming with authority as, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD," nothing as surrounded with divine dread and mystery as Moses approaching the dark cloud atop Mt. Sinai. As for the moral and ritual commandments of the Mosaic law: they are exemplary for their breadth and coherence in a time & place where so much savagery was present, and the fulfilment of the law: "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5) This was all Plato was trying to accomplish in Greek, and Moses beat him to it by a good thousand years and among a more primitive people. The style of the Torah might not be as refined or elegant as Plato's Attic Greek, but it is more numinous, profound, and resonant with divine authority.

Moses said to God: Lo, I shall go to the children of Israel, and say to them: The God of your fathers hath sent me to you. If they should say to me: What is his name? what shall I say to them? God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you. And God said again to Moses: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

This is a more significant theological conclusion than anything which Plato arrives at.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 22, 2019, 10:52:19 AM
Even while they trespassed many times, nobody in the ancient world had a greater sense of the utter transcendence of the Divine and the religious dread that should inspire than the Hebrews. Plato writes like a brilliant but ignorant child in comparison to Moses who writes like a man who knows.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 22, 2019, 11:22:05 AM
De gustibus non est disputandum.  Plato may've indeed envied Moses his ability to convict his people of the Law, and the Torah is not without its instances of poetry and beauty, but in most of the parts pertaining to theology I imagine he would've found so much of a painfully human imagining of God, who in the Torah is a religious chauvinist who takes a preference to a single people; a martial deity like Ares who leads them into battle; and even an animistic episode where a voice comes from a burning bush.  Ever since Xenophanes, Greek philosophy had been striving to get as far away from this sort of thing as fast as it possibly could.  Anthropomorphism was an embarrassment.  What was the conversion rate when the Romans interracted with the Jews?  Surely the Roman intelligentsia were not so incurious that they wouldn't have made some kind of inquiry into the Hebrew scriptures.  I don't think they were overwhelmingly persuaded of its theology.  You are persuaded, because you are reading back into it through the ameliorative lens of Christianity.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on January 22, 2019, 11:42:17 AM
You either end up with:

1) A possibly self-actualizing potency;
2) An evil which is not the deprivation of a due good but has existence in its own right; or
3) A good which comes about on its own without God as First Cause.

Any of which is a denial of Thomistic metaphysics.

Not sufficient to produce it in the realm of facts, but sufficient to produce it in the realm of possibilities: and that's all we're talking about here, because we're demonstrating that God makes it at least conditionally possible for all men to be saved.

No, it's not sufficient even in the realm of possibilities, for it cannot even possibly self-actualize.

And conditional on what?

Quote
Granted that according to Thomism it is not absolutely possible for all men to be saved due to the infallibility of the eternal decrees; still, God does not decree anything in a way that takes away man's freedom or responsibility in choosing his everlasting destiny.

So therefore God has made their salvation a metaphysical impossibility (since His decrees ontologically precede their actions and even their existence), and yet He expects them to obey Him and be saved.

Quote
2b.  If yes (which seems to be your opinion because you call resistance to sufficient grace "sinful"), then what is is the good to which this evil is opposed (e.g. is a defect of)? [Answer: Charity, which is the full or proper form of co-operation with God's grace.]
2b.1. And whatever this good is, is man expected to produce it all by himself?
2b.1a.  If yes, then this is violation of the principle that God is First Cause of all good.
2b.1b.  If no, then again God is punishing man for failing to bring about a good which he could not bring about on his own, and which He failed to cause. [Answer: God is not punishing man merely for failing to love Him, but for actively refusing to love Him despite God's giving him the grace to do so. God would not withdraw efficacious grace if sufficient grace were not initially resisted: the punishment follows the sin.]

You contradict yourself.  Charity is the love of God; therefore the opposing evil is the lack of love of God, by definition.  You distinguish this from an "active refusal" to love God; and if this is indeed a separate evil, it must be opposed to a different good than charity, or else must exist on its own, as an evil not a deprivation of good.  This is in fact the case: an active refusal to love God is opposed to a willingness to love God.  But the same question repeats: can man bring about this good on his own?

So, no matter how you slice it, somewhere down the line, either there is a good man can bring about on his own (such that he can be held responsible for not bringing it about), or there is an evil which is not the deprivation of a good (such that man can prevent this evil without needing to bring about a good on his own).

Otherwise, judgment will be a farce: God will "judge" mankind, who will then turn around and judge Him as unjust, for commanding what He made (given their circumstance) metaphysically impossible.



Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 22, 2019, 11:56:14 AM
De gustibus non est disputandum.  Plato may've indeed envied Moses his ability to convict his people of the Law, and the Torah is not without its instances of poetry and beauty, but in most of the parts pertaining to theology I imagine he would've found so much of a painfully human imagining of God,
I think you underestimate Plato's intelligence. He would have been able to discern the theology contained within unlike theologically bumbling modern readers who get caught up on the literary form so much they can't read it philosophically.
Quote
who in the Torah is a religious chauvinist who takes a preference to a single people;
He honours a covenant He made with a godly man.
Quote
a martial deity like Ares who leads them into battle;
He manifests His divine power over human society and history.
Quote
and even an animistic episode where a voice comes from a burning bush.
He manifests His divine power over created substances.
Quote
Ever since Xenophanes, Greek philosophy had been striving to get as far away from this sort of thing as fast as it possibly could.  Anthropomorphism was an embarrassment.
The God of the Torah is not anthropomorphic. It only appears that way to modern readers who have been subjected to so much "demythologising" that they hear the words "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" and think it's a mere picturesque myth rather than a philosophically profound statement.
Quote
What was the conversion rate when the Romans interracted with the Jews?  Surely the Roman intelligentsia were not so incurious that they wouldn't have made some kind of inquiry to the Hebrew scriptures.  I don't think they were overwhelmingly persuaded of its theology.
The Jews weren't trying to convert the gentiles, they were trying to keep themselves separate from them.
Quote
You are persuaded, because you are reading back into it through the ameliorative lens of Christianity.
And you're reading it through the lens of pseudo-scientific modern scholarship with its relativistic bias. You might not see it that way, but once you've read the documents we have from Heraclitus all the way through to Schopenhauer you tend to pick up the quintessentially modern principle of relativism having read so many disparate works of geniuses.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 22, 2019, 12:11:48 PM
Not sufficient to produce it in the realm of facts, but sufficient to produce it in the realm of possibilities: and that's all we're talking about here, because we're demonstrating that God makes it at least conditionally possible for all men to be saved.

No, it's not sufficient even in the realm of possibilities, for it cannot even possibly self-actualize.

And conditional on what?

Sufficient grace of itself has the power to "self-actualize", i.e. it gives men the power to co-operate with it. The only reason that merely sufficient grace cannot possibly self-actualize absolutely speaking is because man resists it and renders it inefficacious. But it is conditionally possible for sufficient grace to be actualized, i.e. on the condition that man does not resist it. That man always resists merely sufficient grace is not a defect in the grace but a defect in man. But that man could have co-operated with the grace if not for his resistance rests squarely in the realm of possibilities: "I could have co-operated with God's grace". He can't say, "I couldn't co-operate with God's grace, because I needed an efficacious grace which was not given to me," because it was his free resistance to sufficient grace (which made him really able to co-operate) that merited the withdrawal of efficacious grace (which would have made him to actually and freely co-operate).

Quote
Quote
Granted that according to Thomism it is not absolutely possible for all men to be saved due to the infallibility of the eternal decrees; still, God does not decree anything in a way that takes away man's freedom or responsibility in choosing his everlasting destiny.

So therefore God has made their salvation a metaphysical impossibility (since His decrees ontologically precede their actions and even their existence), and yet He expects them to obey Him and be saved.

Included in the eternal decrees is that God makes the salvation of all men really possible. That some men will infallibly be damned (the reprobate) does not make their damnation absolutely necessary, but only conditionally necessary, i.e. on the condition that God permits them to freely resist His grace and justly merit for themselves damnation.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 22, 2019, 12:24:38 PM
You contradict yourself.  Charity is the love of God; therefore the opposing evil is the lack of love of God, by definition.  You distinguish this from an "active refusal" to love God; and if this is indeed a separate evil, it must be opposed to a different good than charity, or else must exist on its own, as an evil not a deprivation of good.  This is in fact the case: an active refusal to love God is opposed to a willingness to love God.  But the same question repeats: can man bring about this good on his own?

So, no matter how you slice it, somewhere down the line, either there is a good man can bring about on his own (such that he can be held responsible for not bringing it about), or there is an evil which is not the deprivation of a good (such that man can prevent this evil without needing to bring about a good on his own).

Otherwise, judgment will be a farce: God will "judge" mankind, who will then turn around and judge Him as unjust, for commanding what He made (given their circumstance) metaphysically impossible.

The evil opposing charity is not a mere lack of charity in general. Otherwise, rocks would be guilty of sin for merely lacking charity. Rather, the evil opposing charity is a lack of charity in creatures whose proper good is charity, i.e. in spiritual creatures such as angels & men, who are commanded to love God. And because such spiritual creatures have free-will a lack of charity presupposes a defective will, i.e. an active refusal to love God. Spiritual creatures that don't yet have the power to exercise their free-will (e.g. a human embryo) are not guilty if they lack charity because the law which demands it of them has not yet fallen upon them. A thing is not defective if it lacks something which does not even belong to it by essence. Lack of charity is a defect only in spiritual creatures with free-will who have the power & obligation to love God but instead choose oppositely to hate God, conflicting their own essence or nature. Men can't love God in a supernatural way by themselves because it is beyond their nature, but in the current life men can't even love God in a natural way because of the defectiveness of human nature subject to original sin – supernatural grace is required both for the supernatural & natural love of God in this life, and God gives sufficient grace to all men to perform both acts, i.e. with His help. In resisting this help that God gives ordering men to love Him, they manifest their hatred of God.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 22, 2019, 01:30:32 PM
The Jews weren't trying to convert the gentiles, they were trying to keep themselves separate from them.

Yes, but that was not my claim.  Judaism need not have been a proselytizing religion for Romans to have learned about its scriptures and its conception of God.  All that was needed was for a few educated Romans to make contact with one or two Hellenistic or apostate Jews in order to casually inquire into the Jewish religion.  There does not appear to have been a wave of Romans who found the narrative or the description of God compelling.  Had it been, word would have gotten around that the Jewish religion was rich in all the mystery, poetry, and booming authority you claim for it, worthy of awe if not devotion.

Perhaps if they could've read the Torah in translation and in its entirety, they would've been awed as you say, and found Plato wanting by comparison.  But they are long deceased and Plato is too, and all we can do now is surmise, projecting our own preferences onto the dead.  I do not assume modern perspectives, but I am helpless to see how a Stoic or an Epicurean wouldn't have found the notion of God taking a specific side in a war risible, or how even the mildest application of some Socratic doubt would not have revealed the all-too-convenient claims of God's chastisement whenever things failed to go well for the Jews, or his blessings whenever they triumphed.  A Roman skeptic would've equated "we went whoring after other gods and did not keep the Law, so he punished us" with "the high priest of Mars failed to burn the hawk's entrails in the proper order, and so we lost the battle."


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Arvinger on January 23, 2019, 11:09:38 AM
My thoughts are that this syllogism seems to fail on its first point.  As the 17th-century French cat-burners proved (among a billion other examples that could be offered), it is not known to everyone that killing innocents is wrong.  Presumably cat-burning originally emerged from Descartes' idea that animals were insensate automatons which could not feel pain, but once it took off I'm sure the average commoners in the village square were not at all versed in Cartesian philosophy, and instead were only crass and cruel human primates who thrilled to hear the anguished howls of cats being burned alive. 

The members of NAMBLA, to take another example, do not believe that sodomizing children is wrong.  Their whole mission statement is that they should be allowed to do it.  They are not alone in history on this point.  The Greeks and Romans tolerated it, and certain tribes of Papua New Guinea even ritualized a form of it.  Whatever uncaused cause is at the source of all existence (and / or is existence itself), it isn't writing a proscription against this practice on everyone's heart.  Who knows what it wants us to do?  Hopefully it is as positively repulsed by this stuff as you and I, but the thunderbolts from the sky fall at random, killing the righteous and the wicked without discrimination.  For all we know, the Papuan sodomy-and-cannibalism tribes think they're attuned to the Standard of all goodness.  They might believe that the Great Goo-Goo has decreed these rites from the beginning of time, and that everywhere else the light of truth has been obscured in the eyes of the unbelievers.  The intractable problem of claiming a specific divinely-given morality is that anyone with a claim to a god can simply say theirs is the standard.  It all ends in subjectivity.

You are making an incorrect assumption that if someone does not believe in God's moral standards included in the Natural Law (or believes something contrary to them), he does not know them. God's moral law is indeed inscribed in everyone's heart, and those who believe something contrary to it also know it deep down in their heart, but they supress this knowledge in unrighteousness, as St. Paul explains in Romans 1, where he explains general sinful state of all mankind:

28 And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: 32 who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.

St. Paul writes about people who have knowingly rejected and suppressed the knowledge of God (verse 28), and who know full well that all the vices which God condems are indeed evil, but they not only do them, but approve of others doing the same thing (verse 32). This is basis of St. Paul's argument about wickedness of all of mankind, and that nobody will have an excuse on the Judgment Day, which then leads to the necessity of the Cross and Christian faith which he explains in consecutive chapters.

So, the Greeks and the tribes in Papua knew that sodomy is wrong, and the 17th century French cat-burners knew what they were doing was wrong - they just suppressed this knowledge in their unrighteousness.

Of course, you might argue that this claim is non-falsifiable, since anyone who believes something contrary to the Natural Law can be accussed of suppressing the knowledge of morality in unrighteousness, but as you can see this has strong New Testament basis.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 23, 2019, 11:23:08 AM
That people who trespass the natural law secretly know that what they are doing is wrong and shameful is proven by their passionate outrage whenever they are judged or exposed.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 24, 2019, 06:16:37 AM
That people who trespass the natural law secretly know that what they are doing is wrong and shameful is proven by their passionate outrage whenever they are judged or exposed.
That's not always true. Passionate outrage could be due to many things. e.g. We know that innocent men typically react passionately against unfair condemnation. As long as they don't go berserk, this sort of passion is a natural/normal response. But by the same psychology, the non-innocent man who sincerely believes himself to be innocent reacts in the exact same way, against what he sincerely believes is an unfair condemnation.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 24, 2019, 11:16:37 AM
You are making an incorrect assumption that if someone does not believe in God's moral standards included in the Natural Law (or believes something contrary to them), he does not know them. God's moral law is indeed inscribed in everyone's heart, and those who believe something contrary to it also know it deep down in their heart, but they supress this knowledge in unrighteousness, as St. Paul explains in Romans 1 [ ... ]

Of course, you might argue that this claim is non-falsifiable, since anyone who believes something contrary to the Natural Law can be accussed of suppressing the knowledge of morality in unrighteousness, but as you can see this has strong New Testament basis.

Correct, I would say it's non-falsifiable.  It's a claim that anyone of any persuasion could make on behalf of their own law.  A Muslim could just as easily say, "the knowledge of Shariah and its obvious righteousness rests innately in all, though many have blinded themselves to its truth."  This is the imputing of a certain knowledge to everyone, including those who deny having it.  Even if the claim were true, there would be no way to verify it, except I suppose by administering a lie detector test to everyone who says they don't feel like they have a knowledge written in their hearts of X, Y, or Z being morally wrong.

St. Paul writes about people who have knowingly rejected and suppressed the knowledge of God (verse 28), and who know full well that all the vices which God condems are indeed evil, but they not only do them, but approve of others doing the same thing (verse 32). This is basis of St. Paul's argument about wickedness of all of mankind, and that nobody will have an excuse on the Judgment Day, which then leads to the necessity of the Cross and Christian faith which he explains in consecutive chapters.

Speaking for myself, I can offer anecdotally that there is about 20% of Catholic morality I no longer accept.  But I don't feel as if I'm in denial of a moral law written in my heart.  I guess it must be something like grace: according to Catholic theology, I must not be cooperating with the grace to revert, yet I don't feel any spiritual promptings to do so (at times I can still be moved by certain forms of piety and principle, but most traditional Catholics would say these feelings are from the devil, since it is usually the piety of the "Professor Plinio Cathars," "anti-Americanists," or "Japanese holdout Jansenists" that impresses me).

The same goes for natural law, because I can't report feeling guilt for disobeying an innate morality.  When I believed Catholic morality issued from a divine authority, I accepted it all; even if I had a doubt about something, I assumed the fault must naturally be mine and not God's.  But without that belief, the best I can do is take it piece by piece based on how much practical and ethical sense it makes.  I know the things God condemns according to the Catholic Church, but lacking faith that the Catholic Church is divinely mandated and protected, I can no longer know whether the Catholic conception of God is correct. 

I'm not suppressing my knowledge of God in order to do wickedness.  I don't think the Papuan tribes are either.  I imagine there was probably a homo shaman somewhere far back in their history who appeared to make it rain during a drought, and he successfully awed enough of them into believing that the Great Goo-Goo would always send rain if they took up ritual sodomy.  These were primitive and credulous people, and the successive generations got raised with the belief and didn't question the tradition.  So too for all the early religions which believed the gods were propitiated or stayed by sacrifice: virgins, children, animals, &c.  "And Noe built an altar unto the Lord: and taking of all cattle and fowls that were clean, offered holocausts upon the altar.  And the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and said: I will no more curse the earth for the sake of man."


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 24, 2019, 02:10:35 PM
You are making an incorrect assumption that if someone does not believe in God's moral standards included in the Natural Law (or believes something contrary to them), he does not know them. God's moral law is indeed inscribed in everyone's heart, and those who believe something contrary to it also know it deep down in their heart, but they supress this knowledge in unrighteousness, as St. Paul explains in Romans 1 [ ... ]

Of course, you might argue that this claim is non-falsifiable, since anyone who believes something contrary to the Natural Law can be accussed of suppressing the knowledge of morality in unrighteousness, but as you can see this has strong New Testament basis.

Correct, I would say it's non-falsifiable.  It's a claim that anyone of any persuasion could make on behalf of their own law.  A Muslim could just as easily say, "the knowledge of Shariah and its obvious righteousness rests innately in all, though many have blinded themselves to its truth."  This is the imputing of a certain knowledge to everyone, including those who deny having it.  Even if the claim were true, there would be no way to verify it, except I suppose by administering a lie detector test to everyone who says they don't feel like they have a knowledge written in their hearts of X, Y, or Z being morally wrong.

St. Paul writes about people who have knowingly rejected and suppressed the knowledge of God (verse 28), and who know full well that all the vices which God condems are indeed evil, but they not only do them, but approve of others doing the same thing (verse 32). This is basis of St. Paul's argument about wickedness of all of mankind, and that nobody will have an excuse on the Judgment Day, which then leads to the necessity of the Cross and Christian faith which he explains in consecutive chapters.

Speaking for myself, I can offer anecdotally that there is about 20% of Catholic morality I no longer accept.  But I don't feel as if I'm in denial of a moral law written in my heart.  I guess it must be something like grace: according to Catholic theology, I must not be cooperating with the grace to revert, yet I don't feel any spiritual promptings to do so (at times I can still be moved by certain forms of piety and principle, but most traditional Catholics would say these feelings are from the devil, since it is usually the piety of the "Professor Plinio Cathars," "anti-Americanists," or "Japanese holdout Jansenists" that impresses me).

The same goes for natural law, because I can't report feeling guilt for disobeying an innate morality.  When I believed Catholic morality issued from a divine authority, I accepted it all; even if I had a doubt about something, I assumed the fault must naturally be mine and not God's.  But without that belief, the best I can do is take it piece by piece based on how much practical and ethical sense it makes.  I know the things God condemns according to the Catholic Church, but lacking faith that the Catholic Church is divinely mandated and protected, I can no longer know whether the Catholic conception of God is correct. 

I'm not suppressing my knowledge of God in order to do wickedness.  I don't think the Papuan tribes are either.  I imagine there was probably a homo shaman somewhere far back in their history who appeared to make it rain during a drought, and he successfully awed enough of them into believing that the Great Goo-Goo would always send rain if they took up ritual sodomy.  These were primitive and credulous people, and the successive generations got raised with the belief and didn't question the tradition.  So too for all the early religions which believed the gods were propitiated or stayed by sacrifice: virgins, children, animals, &c.  "And Noe built an altar unto the Lord: and taking of all cattle and fowls that were clean, offered holocausts upon the altar.  And the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and said: I will no more curse the earth for the sake of man."

I will say only this one thing to this.

There are, if you will, distinct essences to things, which can be experienced and are thus discernable. The world speaks to us, from the simplest odour passing our sense of smell, to the horrors of a scene of human slaughter, the living fires of a sun setting over the ocean, or the enraptured bliss of a mystical vision, all quite apart from our judgment of them, and each such phenomenon is inherently meaningful, or simply, as it appears, it is, it is all it is and it is precisely what it is.

Now, some New Guinean tribe may desire to sodomise one another and think its a grand ol' time that pleases the gods, but regardless of their tastes and joys, that won't change the nature of it, or the fact that what runs through it is a putrid darkness which is the farthest thing from the power that one encounters in Jesus Christ and what he calls divine charity. People may prefer one over the other, but that does not erase the distinction. That , not a "natural law", is recognisable, and to one who opens himself to Jesus, the internal revulsion is there at the intrinsic, experienceable nature of what the Christian path calls evil and demonic, as is the longing for that divine and peace of heart its presence brings. And that is the law written upon the heart, the law of love, the laws of chesed, agape or karitas.

What indulgence in depravity can bring, however, even more so than the sinking into worldy attachments, is certainly a hardening of that heart, just as the practice of moderation and rigorous meditation brings at the very least a natural form enlightenment in self-knowledge and a degree of spiritual power, and this is not just testified to by the "perennial tradition" but can be investigated and directly experienced by anyone with the will to do it. Theosis through Jesus Christ is a step beyond even that.

So, really, I don't care about intellectualised debates over ethics and morality, much less about what is good or evil when definitions of these have not even been agreed upon. All I do is pick my side.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 24, 2019, 02:44:27 PM
Quote
"to hell wiff Abraham.  Most of the constructive so-called Xtn ideas are out of the stoics.  In fact, I should suggest that all Christian decency is sheer stoic.  I doubt if any single ethical idea now honoured comes from Jewry."  Ezra Pound was something of an anti-Semite, so we can allow for a bit of hyperbole, but his remarks contain a certain truth. 

Well, I don't know of anybody who isn't a hard-headed tendentious twat with a chip on his shoulder who could read the Gospel of John or the Sermon on the Mount and come up with such a load of tosh. Rubbish. What did he write of worth anyway? Station in the Metro and a passign reference to Ludwig Klages in Canto 75? I'll go even one further and grab hold of the other end of the stick: what is most obnoxiously sterile about popular "Christianity", and everything I object to in it, everything that kills the message of Christ, the mystical law of love, is precisely what comes not from the Bible but from the influence of the Greeks and the Roman Stoics and their jurisprudence.

Quote
It is not until you get to Philo of Alexandria and then to the Neoplatonist Church Fathers that the Hebrew conception of God finally begins to become credible, and then only by an immersion in Greek monotheism.

That's certainly the popular story, but the argument can and has been well-made (without reference to Kabbalah, which actually proves it conclusively) that Philo was only putting into the language of Greek philosophy what was a strand of Hebrew tradition that predated the Deuteronomic "Judaism" of your conception, although it was, certainly, more "pagan" and alive from the perspective of the adherents to the pseudo-unitarianian force of Greek-inspired theology. Though I'd more than suspect that Hellenism had some influence on Second Temple reformers who concoted the "Judaism" religion.

I'll add that's it's impossible to be familiar with the ancient Hebrew language and its scriptures from the Kabbalistic reading and maintain that these were books written by barbarians with primitive notions of the divinity because anthropomorphism, sacrifice and tunderbolts don't conform to the Greek philosophical prejudice of what is a"credible" account of it. YHWH is a person, in the full sense of that word, and he was a person before he incarnated as Jesus, son of Mary. Deal with it. The Hebrews were mystics who experienced a living God and spoke in the language of symbols, having no interest in the futile graspings of post-Socratic Greek philosophy, by which I mean not to deride such visionaries as Heraclitus; but at the same time that entire world view is beyond any possible doubt encoded in the most impossibly ingenious ways into the letters and words and scriptures of the language. The Genesis cosmogony, the Psalms, the Song of Solomon - through the secrets preserved in Hebrew mysticism these make Plato look like so much straw.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 24, 2019, 06:42:20 PM
So, really, I don't care about intellectualised debates over ethics and morality, much less about what is good or evil when definitions of these have not even been agreed upon. All I do is pick my side.

Good enough.

"Some people like to go out dancing."
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Arvinger on January 28, 2019, 06:07:47 AM
Correct, I would say it's non-falsifiable.  It's a claim that anyone of any persuasion could make on behalf of their own law.  A Muslim could just as easily say, "the knowledge of Shariah and its obvious righteousness rests innately in all, though many have blinded themselves to its truth."  This is the imputing of a certain knowledge to everyone, including those who deny having it.  Even if the claim were true, there would be no way to verify it, except I suppose by administering a lie detector test to everyone who says they don't feel like they have a knowledge written in their hearts of X, Y, or Z being morally wrong.

That a claim is non-falsifiable does not mean it is wrong. In this case its non-falsifiability is caused by our cognitive limitations - to verify whether someone suppresses the truth in unrighteousness we would have to look into someone's heart, which we are incapable of doing. However, that is not necessary - the New Testament and Church teaching (as far as I remember, even the modernist new Catechism teaches that sins against Natural Law cannot be excused by ignorance) on this issue is quite sufficient. There is no need to verify it in any way, since it is God's revelation, which tells us that everyone has the main precepts of the Natural Law written on their hearts, so the cat-burners, sodomite tribes in Papua, Aztec priests offering human sacrifices, etc. are without excuse, since they suppress the truth about morality contained in Natural Law in their unrighteousness.

Now, that people supress the truth in unrighteousness does not mean that they cannot be conciously convinced and genuinly believe something contrary to the Natural Law. It just means that the suppression has reached the level at which they no longer consciously recognize the truth. 

As to the argument that a Muslim could claim the same thing ("people suppress the knowledge of Shariah in unrighteousness"), or member of any other religion:
1) Islam can be easily disproved on other grounds, such as misrepresentation and strawman arguments against Christianity in the Quran, revealing author's ignorance of Christianity (God is not ignorant of anything).
2) Yes, ultimately it is true that member of any religion can make this claim and take his religion presuppositionally as true. That is the epistemological barrier which cannot be overcome so long as one truly believes his religion to be true and believes that all arguments against it must be wrong a priori. I addressed that in one of my discussins with QMR - this argument ignores that faith is a gift from God, and God will provide the faith to those who search for truth, no matter what epistemological limitations there are. We have to recognize that rational apologetic arguments and proper epistemology are insufficient in themselves to arrive to true faith, since it is a gift from God. Therefore, demanding to demonstrate truthfulness of Christianity in the real of apologetics and epistemology (like you and QMR do) is ultimately futile, even though excellent arguments can be made and have been made in these areas - simply because arriving to Christian faith does not depend on apologetics and epistemology, but on God's grace.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on January 28, 2019, 07:54:41 AM
Quote
Hola, Xavier.  It is true that the ancient Hebrews had a monotheism before the ancient Greeks, but let us not neglect the differences.  We need only consider something which John Lamb mentioned earlier in the thread: that Plato would've benefited from reading Moses.  I wonder what Plato would've made of the Torah.

Hello, Pon. Sorry for the delay in responding. You're right that Plato would've benefited from reading the Torah; indeed, he would have benefited from knowing the History of Abraham, Father of Monotheism, the Law of Moses, who revealed the eternal Law of God; the Psalms of King David, so beautiful and profound in depth and scope that many have felt they would be believers just through reading those 150 beautiful hymns of praise to Almighty God; the Wisdom of King Solomon the wise, who foretells the Incarnation of Wisdom, the prophesies and moral exhortations of the great Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah about love of God and neighbor etc. All of these would doubtless have had an impact on Plato's thought, and the early Christians believed God after more than a millenia (about a millenia and a half) of preparing His own people by special revelation, soon began to prepare the Greeks and other virtuous pagans, by the lesser light of reason. Recall also that in the time of King Solomon there was the promised period of peace, and the Great Temple of Jerusalem being built, through which the other nations came to the awareness that there was One Supreme God of Heaven Who dwelt among His people.

The Supreme Lord God Yahweh proved His Divinity to His people in various simple ways, the First was by the Great Miracles He worked in the sight of all the people to defeat the mightiest empire than on Earth, that of the Egyptian Pharoahs. This is what the Prophet Moses urges his people to ever bear in mind throughout their history, (as does also King Solomon when he builds the Temple, saying it will be destroyed if they are not faithful), and never forget in Deuteronomy 4, "[32] Ask of the days of old, that have been before thy time from the day that God created man upon the earth, from one end of heaven to the other end thereof, if ever there was done the like thing, or it hath been known at any time, [33] That a people should hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of fire, as thou hast heard, and lived: [34] If God ever did so as to go, and take to himself a nation out of the midst of nations by temptations, signs, and wonders, by fight, and a strong hand, and stretched out arm, and horrible visions according to all the things that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt, before thy eyes. [35] That thou mightest know that the Lord he is God, and there is no other besides him."

Sometimes unbelievers object against Almighty God's actions in the Old Testament without fully understanding and appreciating the historical context: consider that for about 400 years, the Israelites had been in and around Egypt, and through the Patriarch Joseph had greatly assisted that country. Yet for no fault of theirs, they were oppressed and persecuted, forcibly made slaves, and would have all been slaughtered by Pharoah in the wilderness for wanting a home of their own. This was the historical situation in which Almighty God, remembering His promises to the Patriarch Abraham, makes His glorious intervention in human history. "And when Pharao drew near, the children of Israel, lifting up their eyes, saw the Egyptians behind them: and they feared exceedingly, and cried to the Lord ... [24] And now the morning watch was come, and behold the Lord looking upon the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, slew their host. [25] And overthrew the wheels of the chariots, and they were carried into the deep. And the Egyptians said: Let us flee from Israel: for the Lord fighteth for them against us ... And the Lord delivered Israel on that day out of the hands of the Egyptians. History bears full witness of the Exodus and the fact that the Egyptian Pharoahs adopted a limited monotheism after they had seen the power of the Lord, the God of Israel.

At this time, it was neither prudent nor feasible to give them philosophy classes on the First Cause, with their enemies on every side. Later on, when Holofernes attacks in the time of Judith, and Heliodorus in the time of the Maccabees, they have the strength to resist because they remember that God can do all things, can defeat any enemy, if only they are righteous, as He defeated Pharoah. Thus, it was really Peace through Strength. And also it should be remembered that God forbad infanticide and burning children (Deut 18:9-10) and such, which was then almost universal, as archaeology has proven. For such and similar reasons, Almighty God took some severe measures. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide#In_ancient_history Later on, in times of peace, the same God raised up theologians, philosophers and thinkers who reflected and realized He was One. Then, the time for His coming to earth was at hand.

Regarding Sacrifices, these continued till the coming of Christ our Lord, and prefigured the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, after which all other sacrifices like that of animals ceased. The God of Israel foretold the time would come when pure oblation and incense would be offered to Him by Gentiles from sunrise to sunset. "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts." (Mal 1:11) This happens in Holy Mass.

You're perhaps right that maybe Moses alone wouldn't have been persuasive to the Gentiles, but he wasn't meant to be. To convert the Gentiles was the task the God of Moses reserved to Himself, during and after His visitation to earth. No one else could have done it.

Many of the Fathers of the Church, including St. Justin and St. Hilary, came from paganism to God and Jesus Christ because of realizing polytheism was necessarily inherently contradictory and therefore demonstrably false; and grace showed them the God Who taught He was One long ago to Moses and Abraham was the True God.

As for natural law, people continue to commit and defend sin even after a written law has been revealed. But let's put it like this, is it a fact or an opinion that murder, infanticide etc is wrong? If only an opinion, then civil law has no basis at all, since it cannot be based on opinions. No, the fact that murder is wrong must be a necessary factual truth as certain as that 2 and 2 makes 4. And even more fundamental the moral law must be, more than any mathematical law; we don't penalize anyone legally for getting math wrong. We do penalize those who believe murder is ok and act accordingly. How can we do that consistently? Moral relativism will lead to legal positivism, and that will never work. That's why natural law theory is the historical and logical basis of western jurisprudence. Supreme Courts have often appealed to the basic principles of natural justice. Alexander Hamilton put it like this, Pon, "Good and wise men, in all  have held that the Deity, from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever. This is what is called the law of nature....Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind." It is no consequence that one of God's First Special Revelation was the Law. Man was indeed capable of knowing it, but he had so much disregarded the law in his heart (just like he can close the Bible when it says something he doesn't like) that Divine Providence deemed this revelation was foundational and necessary. And although the founders of America made some mistakes on other points, they are quite clear on Natural Law Philosophy, and its Judeo-Christian roots. That's why they strongly insist rights come not from government but from God, and are antecedent to the existence of any State. And as the necessary moral law on which all contingent civil laws are based exists prior to those civil laws and is the basis on which they must be formed, it must come from a Being necessarily Good. It could not have originated from any human or mutable lawgiver. God bless, Pon.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 28, 2019, 09:30:00 AM
Yes, ultimately it is true that member of any religion can make this claim and take his religion presuppositionally as true. That is the epistemological barrier which cannot be overcome so long as one truly believes his religion to be true and believes that all arguments against it must be wrong a priori. I addressed that in one of my discussins with QMR - this argument ignores that faith is a gift from God, and God will provide the faith to those who search for truth, no matter what epistemological limitations there are. We have to recognize that rational apologetic arguments and proper epistemology are insufficient in themselves to arrive to true faith, since it is a gift from God. Therefore, demanding to demonstrate truthfulness of Christianity in the real of apologetics and epistemology (like you and QMR do) is ultimately futile, even though excellent arguments can be made and have been made in these areas - simply because arriving to Christian faith does not depend on apologetics and epistemology, but on God's grace.

In defense of QMR, though, he himself appears to believe that apologetics can only go so far.  For as much as he trashes Thomism, Western theology, and pious argumentation, he does offer at the same time an apologetics scheme of his own (theistic evolution, apophatic theology, and development of doctrine to the point of extreme revision or outright reversal).  So far as I read him, he would say that this kind of thing can only get an unbeliever to something like, "Christianity has a reasonable claim to truth."  But in order to get to his "certainty of faith," he emphasizes the need for a mystical illumination (or, as you would say, God's grace).  I agree with the both of you on that count.  Clearly there has to be something meta-rational that gets a person past Greek monotheism to the God of the Hebrews.

The problem with grace is that it still seems to require a personal assent.  Unless, that is, grace is irresistible, but then that would negate free will.  You and I happen to agree here: that there is no earthly way to resolve the paradox of Pelagianism and determinism.  Another problem with grace, though, is that, like the claim to a natural law, it is yet another non-verifiable claim that any person of any religion could make.  "By the grace of God I believe in (X) and know with an absolute and mystical certainty that is (X) is true."  This is what I try to stress to QMR.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on January 28, 2019, 10:12:32 AM
2) Yes, ultimately it is true that member of any religion can make this claim and take his religion presuppositionally as true. That is the epistemological barrier which cannot be overcome so long as one truly believes his religion to be true and believes that all arguments against it must be wrong a priori. I addressed that in one of my discussins with QMR - this argument ignores that faith is a gift from God, and God will provide the faith to those who search for truth, no matter what epistemological limitations there are. We have to recognize that rational apologetic arguments and proper epistemology are insufficient in themselves to arrive to true faith, since it is a gift from God. Therefore, demanding to demonstrate truthfulness of Christianity in the real of apologetics and epistemology (like you and QMR do) is ultimately futile, even though excellent arguments can be made and have been made in these areas - simply because arriving to Christian faith does not depend on apologetics and epistemology, but on God's grace.

1) You're misstating my position on apologetics and epistemology.  Completely.  What I'm saying is that the supposed strength of arguments for Christianity in the realm of apologetics and epistemology isn't nearly as great as many Christians seem to think - they only seem strong after one has already accepted Christianity and sees things with a Christian viewpoint.  But that's OK, because the assent of faith doesn't rely on these things - it relies, rather, on an internal encounter with the living God.  Now, I agree that apologetics can show the reasonableness of Christianity.  Where I disagree is the claim that apologetics can also show the unreasonableness of its rejection.  Otherwise, the assent of faith would be basically intellectual in nature.

2) One who truly believes his religion to be true and thus all arguments against it must be wrong a priori isn't searching for truth - he's already convinced he has it.  Saying "God will provide the faith", while true, does nothing whatsoever to describe how He will provide it, which must be, logically, via some supra-rational manner, the only one possible being some sort of mystical encounter.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on January 28, 2019, 10:28:48 AM
In defense of QMR, though, he himself appears to believe that apologetics can only go so far.  For as much as he trashes Thomism, Western theology, and pious argumentation, he offers at the same time an apologetics scheme of his own (theistic evolution, apophatic theology, and development of doctrine to the point of extreme revision or outright reversal).  So far as I read him, however, he would say that this kind of thing can only get an unbeliever to something like, "Christianity has a reasonable claim to truth."  But in order to get to his "certainty of faith," he emphasizes the need for a mystical illumination (or, as you would say, God's grace).  I agree with the both of you on that count.  Clearly there has to be something meta-rational that gets a person past Greek monotheism to the God of the Hebrews.

Correct.

Quote
The problem with grace is that it still seems to require a personal assent.  Unless, that is, grace is irresistible, but then that would negate free will.  You and I happen to agree here: that there is no earthly way to resolve the paradox of Pelagianism and determinism. 

The problem with grace only arises when Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics (which was developed as a philosophy of nature) is transplanted in an attempt to create a philosophy of grace and its interactions with free will.  Grace is not part of nature, and thus it is not surprising that the attempt to transplant this metaphysics (which works perfectly fine when dealing with nature) fails when it comes to grace. 

There is a real capability in us for evil which goes beyond the mere privation of the opposite good, and yet is not an ontological entity in its own right.  Nor is the failure in us to choose such evil an ontological thing either.

I can say "it is only by the grace of God" that I don't, immediately, right now, take an Uzi (assuming I owned one) into the nearest shopping mall and start mowing down people, and it might sound really pious, but it fails the reality test.  This would be simply extra, gratuitous evil on my part.


Quote
Another problem with grace, though, is that, like the claim to a natural law, it is yet another non-verifiable claim that any person of any religion could make.  "By the grace of God I believe in (X) and know with an absolute and mystical certainty that is (X) is true."  This is what I try to stress to QMR.

Objectively non-verifiable, admitted; subjectively non-verifiable, denied.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 28, 2019, 12:00:14 PM
Quote
Another problem with grace, though, is that, like the claim to a natural law, it is yet another non-verifiable claim that any person of any religion could make.  "By the grace of God I believe in (X) and know with an absolute and mystical certainty that is (X) is true."  This is what I try to stress to QMR.

Objectively non-verifiable, admitted; subjectively non-verifiable, denied.

Agreed.  For the person who has the experience, it is the most verifiable and certain thing in the world.  But the fact that various people claim mystical experiences in favor of different religions is where the problem comes in: this is like a conference of solipsists arguing over which one of them actually exists.  Everyone is certain of their own mystical certainty.

If an unbeliever is presented with claims of mystical certainty from a Catholic, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Mennonite, a Mormon, and an Eastern Orthodox, and must choose from this set based on which is the most reasonable, how would they know which one to choose?  If you ask me, in the year 2019, I am going to say Eastern Orthodox or Buddhist.  You will rightly contend that the Orthodox have a faulty epistemology, but as we've discussed before, the allegedly perfect epistemology ends in Vatican II, annulments-as-divorce, the NOM, St. John Paul II, and Francis reversing the death penalty.  That might be acceptable to you who have had a mystical experience, but for me, there goes Christianity.  It would then only remain for someone to decide whether they want to spend their time sitting on a yoga mat in the lotus position waiting on a promised enlightenment.  "I don't believe in mantra."


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 28, 2019, 02:30:44 PM
If you ask me, in the year 2019, I am going to say Eastern Orthodox or Buddhist.

Really?

I hadn't realized you were somehow attracted to the musings of Siddhartha.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 28, 2019, 06:53:51 PM
If you ask me, in the year 2019, I am going to say Eastern Orthodox or Buddhist.

Really?

I hadn't realized you were somehow attracted to the musings of Siddhartha.

Only mildly.  What Buddhism has going for it is that it begins with the brute fact of suffering: every sentient being suffers, it acknowledges, with no God to account for it.  Suffering just is (which is a fine description of the world as we find it) and Buddhism proposes a liberation.  It does have massive problems, though.  The single baseline supernatural belief you have to take on to be a Buddhist, of course, is a belief in reincarnation, which is not very credible, even though the Greeks themselves had it in their doctrine of the transmigration of souls.  It makes more sense, though, than a Catholicism that can reinvent itself to the extent that, say, the death penalty can be proclaimed a moral wrong after two thousand years.  I am not planning on becoming a Buddhist, but when QMR proposes with mystical certainty that Novus Ordo Catholicism is viable, I am going to prefer the mystical certainty of a Buddhist proposing reincarnation—if we're talking about what's reasonable, that is.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 29, 2019, 07:26:07 AM
Quote
Another problem with grace, though, is that, like the claim to a natural law, it is yet another non-verifiable claim that any person of any religion could make.  "By the grace of God I believe in (X) and know with an absolute and mystical certainty that is (X) is true."  This is what I try to stress to QMR.

Objectively non-verifiable, admitted; subjectively non-verifiable, denied.

Agreed.  For the person who has the experience, it is the most verifiable and certain thing in the world.

As it is verifiable and certain. It's judging and drawing inferences that isn't. And my answer would be that the perennial core of truth in each of them points to Jesus Christ as its source and summit. To whit, Valentin Tomberg.

Quote
But the fact that various people claim mystical experiences in favor of different religions is where the problem comes in: this is like a conference of solipsists arguing over which one of them actually exists.  Everyone is certain of their own mystical certainty.

And that's fine. Even the objectively verifiable is "only" subjectively verifiable as such. The issue is of what he has encountered. I wouldn't want to deny them their experiences and the certainty of those experiences, as I've had many of them myself. The worlds of Tantric Buddhism exist and its spiritual states are attainable. Allah, no doubt, is a reality to the Sufi, megalomaniacal taskmaster as he is. The question is, have you encountered Jesus Christ and the cosmos-creating, soul-shattering joy of the love that flows from him and fills your being?  Because everything falls into nothingness, is so much straw, in comparison, and the one who has it, he will know what is is and either accept or reject it.

Jesus doesn't say, "Here's my proof!". He says, "I am the truth. Follow me and you will know it and be set free".

John 8:32 : “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Quote
If an unbeliever is presented with claims of mystical certainty from a Catholic, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Mennonite, a Mormon, and an Eastern Orthodox, and must choose from this set based on which is the most reasonable, how would they know which one to choose?  If you ask me, in the year 2019, I am going to say Eastern Orthodox or Buddhist. "

By the grace of Jesus Christ will have an encoutner with and come to choose him. Or they won't. There is no outside certainty, and nobody is owed it.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on January 29, 2019, 05:37:00 PM
If you ask me, in the year 2019, I am going to say Eastern Orthodox or Buddhist.

Really?

I hadn't realized you were somehow attracted to the musings of Siddhartha.

Only mildly.  What Buddhism has going for it is that it begins with the brute fact of suffering: every sentient being suffers, it acknowledges, with no God to account for it.  Suffering just is (which is a fine description of the world as we find it) and Buddhism proposes a liberation.  It does have massive problems, though.  The single baseline supernatural belief you have to take on to be a Buddhist, of course, is a belief in reincarnation, which is not very credible, even though the Greeks themselves had it in their doctrine of the transmigration of souls.  It makes more sense, though, than a Catholicism that can reinvent itself to the extent that, say, the death penalty can be proclaimed a moral wrong after two thousand years.  I am not planning on becoming a Buddhist, but when QMR proposes with mystical certainty that Novus Ordo Catholicism is viable, I am going to prefer the mystical certainty of a Buddhist proposing reincarnation—if we're talking about what's reasonable, that is.

Does Buddhism rely on doctrinal coherence throughout the ages, though?

I reckon they have a few different denominations and schools of thought.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 29, 2019, 08:14:37 PM
This is a little off topic, but...

I'm wondering, does Buddhism claim that everyone is morally obliged to become Buddhist? Or does it only claim that Buddhism is useful (necessary?) insofar as we want to escape from suffering?

Suppose I don't care about suffering. (I'll take the suffering or I'll leave it... doesn't matter one way or the other. That sort of attitude.) Is there any reason for me to become a Buddhist?

At least as far as religion is concerned, Buddhism seems completely pointless. The whole purpose of religion is to give to God the adoration we owe Him. But Buddhism says that God is irrelevant. It doesn't offer us a means of practicing religion; rather, it basically seems to say that there's no need to practice religion, and it further says that that we should instead focus our efforts on doing whatever we can to escape from our desires and from suffering.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on January 30, 2019, 10:39:56 AM
Does Buddhism rely on doctrinal coherence throughout the ages, though?

I reckon they have a few different denominations and schools of thought.

Yes, that's certainly true.  I should add that the Zen school of Buddhism in Japan doesn't even seem to be concerned with reincarnation, which I consider the baseline Buddhist doctrine.  Zen might be properly classed as a philosophy or discipline.  But the more popular form of Buddhism in Japan is the Pure Land version, which entails belief, salvation, and heaven.  So yes, as different as it gets. 

I guess if I were to seriously consider Buddhism, I would be attracted to the Theravada form.  But reincarnation makes no sense, at least as the Buddhists consider it.  I once asked a Buddhist: since life contains suffering and the goal is liberation from rebirth through annihilation, why do Buddhists have children?  He gave me an anthropocentric answer: that only in the human form was a soul capable of reaching nirvana.  So I said, why not nuke the planet several times over and destroy all sentient life with a nuclear winter?  Where would the souls go if there were no more biological bodies to inhabit?  He said I was asking ridiculous questions.  "I don't believe in Buddha."
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 30, 2019, 11:00:00 AM
This is a little off topic, but...

I'm wondering, does Buddhism claim that everyone is morally obliged to become Buddhist? Or does it only claim that Buddhism is useful (necessary?) insofar as we want to escape from suffering?

Daniel, what do you really mean by morally obliged?

My view is that the Holy Spirit in the heart prompts me to will good, on the one hand, while on the other hand, because I desire union with God, I have a reason to obey His commands that lead me to it. Failure to do this, choosing evil instead, will lead to Hell, the eternal separation from the divine, something I would do anythign to avoid. Does what you call moral obligation fit into this? Or is this just "useful"?

If we're talking about the de facto atheists, a Buddhist equivalent of liberal Christians, or an imaginary "pure" Buddhism of modern reformists, that's one thing, but traditional Buddhism is inextricably synchretised with locla "polytheism" and has Bodhisattvas and gods and demons and a Hell from which there is basically no escape once you end up there.

Quote
Suppose I don't care about suffering. (I'll take the suffering or I'll leave it... doesn't matter one way or the other. That sort of attitude.) Is there any reason for me to become a Buddhist?

Looking past a vital cause of love of God and the good, is there any reason for you to become a Christian other than the reward of Heaven and escape from Hell? Please don't say you're obliged because you owe something; that's talking in circles.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 30, 2019, 12:06:19 PM
I can say "it is only by the grace of God" that I don't, immediately, right now, take an Uzi (assuming I owned one) into the nearest shopping mall and start mowing down people, and it might sound really pious, but it fails the reality test.  This would be simply extra, gratuitous evil on my part.

Actually, none of us are probably as far off from this as we might imagine. Looking into the evils in the world can easily lead to despair, and the devil encourages this despair and turns it into wrath. The devil is disgusted by mankind and he is eager to share his anger & disgust with others. With the withdrawal of God's grace and at the encouragement of the devil, you might quite easily in your imagination wish to slaughter a crowd of people, which according to Christ's teaching is to have already committed the sin spiritually. Then to commit the sin in act you only need a mental illness, which God could, again, very easily permit you to have.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: John Lamb on January 30, 2019, 12:26:32 PM
If an unbeliever is presented with claims of mystical certainty from a Catholic, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Mennonite, a Mormon, and an Eastern Orthodox, and must choose from this set based on which is the most reasonable, how would they know which one to choose?

This very pertinent question is precisely the one that the traditional / thomistic theological manuals address, by speaking of the formal motive of our faith as "the authority of God revealing," and then applying this formal motive to the motives of credibility which show that Catholicism has the most convincing claim to be the medium of "God revealing". This is not to do away with any of the interior motives, spiritual insights, mystical illuminations, etc., but to provide these invisible & spiritual things – that are beyond reason – with a rational framework so that the Catholic faith can't be dismissed so easily as "well, the Muslims and the Buddhists have their mystical insights too – so why do I need your dogmas?" On the contrary, Thomism has always maintained the strict necessity of an interior illumination of supernatural grace in making an act of faith.

Quote
If you ask me, in the year 2019, I am going to say Eastern Orthodox or Buddhist.  You will rightly contend that the Orthodox have a faulty epistemology, but as we've discussed before, the allegedly perfect epistemology ends in Vatican II, annulments-as-divorce, the NOM, St. John Paul II, and Francis reversing the death penalty.  That might be acceptable to you who have had a mystical experience, but for me, there goes Christianity.  It would then only remain for someone to decide whether they want to spend their time sitting on a yoga mat in the lotus position waiting on a promised enlightenment.  "I don't believe in mantra."

Catholic teaching is only "epistemologically perfect" in a refined and very formal sense – when the pastors of the Church co-operate with God's grace in teaching & declaring those dogmas of the faith which Christ & the Apostles have entrusted to them: it infallibly produces the truth in any intellect receptive to it. That doesn't mean that any statement of any Catholic person is bound to be true all of the time, or that everyone who call themselves "Catholic" is entirely receptive to the truth.
Analogy: the Oxford Course in Latin. It teaches people how to read Latin. But if you get a class full of dolts, or a teacher who refuses to teach, nobody ends up learning Latin. Does that mean the Oxford Course in Latin is unsound? On the contrary, it's a good course. Similarly, Catholicism is a good course, it's just that we don't always get the best people on the course or teaching it.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 30, 2019, 02:47:57 PM
Kreuzritter - Could you clarify: What you seem to be saying is that the reason philosophers/ethicists have never been able to explain why people are morally obliged to do the good is because people simply aren't morally obliged to do the good?

In other words, you're saying that nobody is obliged to follow God's rules? That is, God could care less whether or not we follow His rules?
If we ignore heaven and hell, the man who chooses to do evil is not any worse a man than the man who chooses to do good?
But because of the reality of heaven and hell, it's a good idea to do good. The man who chooses to do evil is a more foolish man than the man who chooses to do good, but not a worse man?

edit - Or maybe he is a worse man, but that's not a bad thing, since there's no objective reason for him to be good?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 30, 2019, 04:17:21 PM
Kreuzritter - Could you clarify: What you seem to be saying is that the reason philosophers/ethicists have never been able to explain why people are morally obliged to do the good is because people simply aren't morally obliged to do the good?

No, I just genuinely don't know what that means. Ethicists will first have to explain what moral obligation is and what the question is searchign for before an anwer can be found.

Quote
In other words, you're saying that nobody is obliged to follow God's rules?

God obliges us, but that's in the sense of a commandment for what he wants us to do.

Quote
That is, God could care less whether or not we follow His rules?

No, I'd never say that. God care's very much, both out of his love for us and his hatred of evil.

Quote
If we ignore heaven and hell, the man who chooses to do evil is not any worse a man than the man who chooses to do good?

No, he's evil, and that's what I'd mean by being worse in a moral sense.

Quote
But because of the reality of heaven and hell, it's a good idea to do good.

Yes. But doing good isn't just a "good idea"; it's fundamentally an act of love from the heart. Even the one who merely goes through the motions of "doing good", if he doesn't have love, to paraphrase 1 Corinthians, gains nothing. I don't place man's essential humanity in the head with its capacity for reason, but in the heart with its capacity for love.

Quote
The man who chooses to do evil is a more foolish man than the man who chooses to do good, but not a worse man?

I'd say he's worse, viz., more evil. I wouldn't say he's necessarily foolish in a mere intellectual sense, because if Hell and its suffering is what he has his will set upon, he going about it the right way. Wantign Hell, knowign what it is, isn't true or false - it's just ... sick, a result of a spiritual darkness. But he may be truly mistaken in thinking it'd be his joy, and he's certainly foolish and ignorant in what comes across as God's Biblical sense, but I'd place that more in the heart than the head.

Quote
edit - Or maybe he is a worse man, but that's not a bad thing, since there's no objective reason for him to be good?

What is an "objective reason to be good" supposed to be?


Please, please, please don't read anythign I write as a form of moral relativism, moral consequentialism, or divine command theory.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Prayerful on January 30, 2019, 05:21:35 PM
As I understand it, the Church condemns hedonism on the grounds that hedonism does not lead to salvation.

But what about those of us who probably won't be saved anyway? Seeing as there is no road to salvation for us (the reprobate), and seeing as our damnation--if God wills it--is inevitable, why should we not spend our short lives doing whatever we want?

Should there not be a double standard?

That can be a danger, or was at least in the fast, that by emphasising the fewness of the saved, how hard it was, that many would despair, that they would like in Isaiah 'eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.'
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on January 30, 2019, 07:23:02 PM
Sorry Kreuzritter, I didn't intend to read any of that stuff into your post. I am just trying to better understand your position.

Thanks for the reply. I guess I now see what you're saying. All men are obliged to obey God by the very fact that God commands obedience. And this obedience must be done out of supernatural love for God rather than out of an intellectual submission to duty. Those who do this are defined as 'good' and are consequently worthy of heaven; those who fail to do this are defined as 'evil' and are consequently worthy of hell.

I suppose I'm still having a somewhat difficult time grasping this though, since in my experience love is intellectual. But I suppose supernatural love might not be. Also, in my experience, even men who lack grace/charity still have the capacity to love. Though I suppose they have no capacity for supernatural love.

Would you say that God commands the impossible? Those who have no supernatural love cannot correctly love God yet nevertheless are obliged to do so?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on January 31, 2019, 06:34:02 AM
Sorry Kreuzritter, I didn't intend to read any of that stuff into your post. I am just trying to better understand your position.

Thanks for the reply. I guess I now see what you're saying. All men are obliged to obey God by the very fact that God commands obedience.

I'd say God obliges them. But there's no "obligation" outside of one intelligence obliging another.


Quote
And this obedience must be done out of supernatural love for God rather than out of an intellectual submission to duty. Those who do this are defined as 'good' and are consequently worthy of heaven; those who fail to do this are defined as 'evil' and are consequently worthy of hell.

Close, but not quite.

God's nature is love. To unite with God is to love like him, and vice versa. I think of the anecdote about St. Francis appearing indistinguishable from Jesus at his death. Those who unite with him are, by degree, in Heaven; those who refuse and separate are, by degree, in Hell. It's not about declaring worth and divvying up reward and punishment, though you could see it from that angle and express it in those terms.

Doing good deeds without love can at least, with right intention, eventually foster that love. Those who only have faith and hope should nevertheless persevere.

Quote
I suppose I'm still having a somewhat difficult time grasping this though, since in my experience love is intellectual. But I suppose supernatural love might not be. Also, in my experience, even men who lack grace/charity still have the capacity to love. Though I suppose they have no capacity for supernatural love.

Although the usual term is agape, I'd say there are two ascept to the Hoyl Spirit's love: one, as agape, an outwardly directed, active love to give, the other, as eros, an inwardly directed desire to unite. They both feed off each other, but I suppose people will be more inclined toward one or the other.

Quote
Would you say that God commands the impossible? Those who have no supernatural love cannot correctly love God yet nevertheless are obliged to do so?

No, I don't think so. One just has to desire it and open oneself. Even just wanting it is an inkling of love.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 03, 2019, 12:17:13 PM
Would you say that God commands the impossible? Those who have no supernatural love cannot correctly love God yet nevertheless are obliged to do so?

No, I don't think so. One just has to desire it and open oneself. Even just wanting it is an inkling of love.
But there's a difference between having a generic desire to follow God's rules and actually following God's rules.

The former is easy: granted that you always acknowledge God to be most sovereign, you can never fail to want to follow all of His rules. Just keep your mind always on God's sovereignty in all your actions, and all your actions will be done with the desire to follow all of God's rules.

The latter, however, is oftentimes impossible: it pretty much requires that we have knowledge of God's rules... yet God doesn't give faith to everybody.
And it's impractical (perhaps impossible) to attempt to follow God's rules without knowing what those rules are, since all the religions seem to be contradicting one another, not to mention that it's also possible that none of the religions have knowledge of God's rules.

Nevertheless, God damns people who fail to follow His rules.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 13, 2019, 07:34:47 PM
If, as many Catholic theologians seem to hold, God "does not command us to do the impossible", then why should I, who do not know whether or not the Catholic Church has any sort of God-given legal authority, continue obeying the Catholic Church? And why should I, who have no idea whether or not baptism is real, continue calling myself a 'Christian'?

God's laws are secret and hidden. The Catholic Church, however, claims to possess knowledge of God's laws and further claims to have authority to make additional laws. Yet many other religions and secular governments make similar claims. Since I personally don't have the knowledge, I personally am in no position to judge any of these religions and determine which one, if any, is correct.

Nevertheless, Catholic theologians hold that "every baptized person is bound to obey the Catholic Church's laws and to believe in the Catholic Church's dogmas" while simultaneously holding the contradictory claim that "nobody is bound to obey God's laws when it is impossible to do so".

edit - I suppose it isn't strictly 'impossible' to obey God by means of obeying the Catholic Church, since it's possible that the Catholic Church is right. But then again, any one of the other religions might be right. And this leads to absurdities...
You end up with people who try to practice all of the religions hoping to "get lucky"--a practice which Catholic theologians would condemn as 'superstitious'.
And then you end up with other people who blindly pick and choose one religion and follow it, also hoping to "get lucky".
The latter seems just about as absurd as the former.
And it raises the question: When is faithless irrational belief ever a good thing? Even if you happen to get lucky, it seems what you're actually doing is not much more than gambling. Not obeying God's rules qua God's rules.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 13, 2019, 11:50:11 PM
Quote from: Daniel
If, as many Catholic theologians seem to hold, God "does not command us to do the impossible", then why should I, who do not know whether or not the Catholic Church has any sort of God-given legal authority, continue obeying the Catholic Church?

 ::) Why don't you know? You can know if you want to know. No? You will not know if you do not want to know.

Quote
God's laws are secret and hidden.

Not at all. His Commandments are crystal clear in the Decalogue, and the natural law is known through conscience to all who seek Truth.

Mat 19:17 ...But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

And since you are baptized, you should confess your sins if you have lapsed from the Faith, be restored to grace, and led by the Spirit.

1 Jn 3:23 And this is His commandment, that we should believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ: and love one another, as He hath given commandment unto us. 24 And he that keepeth His commandments, abideth in Him, and He in him. And in this we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.

Quote
Since I personally don't have the knowledge

Please read this to see some of the great things Jesus has done in the history of His Church, which could help you, if you are really willing and desirous to acquire that salvific knowledge: "The analyses were conducted with absolute and unquestionable scientific precision and they were documented with a series of microscopic photographs.

These analyses sustained the following conclusions: The Flesh is real Flesh. The Blood is real Blood. The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species ... (see the link for more)" http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html

And Fr. Michael Mueller, as posted in another thread, documents umpteen other well-documented Eucharistic Miracles. Atheistic scientists have converted upon seeing these.

To know and believe in the Name of Jesus Christ as Our Lord and God, as our King and Saviour, is necessary for salvation. Then, we obey His commandments made known by His Word and His Church, to grow in grace, and inherit eternal life, especially through His Sacraments, especially that Blessed Sacrament of Infinite Love, the Eucharist.

Quote
Nevertheless, Catholic theologians hold that "every baptized person is bound to obey the Catholic Church's laws and to believe in the Catholic Church's dogmas" while simultaneously holding the contradictory claim that "nobody is bound to obey God's laws when it is impossible to do so".

The two propositions are not contradictory. The erroneous proposition "nobody can know the Church's laws are God's laws" or "it is impossible to know the Church's laws" or some such form of self-defeating agnosticism which you introduced to go from one to the other is false. It's not just possible but easy for you to go to Church, make a good confession, and begin to embrace the Faith firmly. Come off this, Daniel, come back to a right and holy life in the Church, growing in grace and union with Christ. Jesus loves you and wants you to have Eternal Life and perfect happiness forever with Him.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 14, 2019, 07:12:07 AM
Quote from: Daniel
If, as many Catholic theologians seem to hold, God "does not command us to do the impossible", then why should I, who do not know whether or not the Catholic Church has any sort of God-given legal authority, continue obeying the Catholic Church?

 ::) Why don't you know? You can know if you want to know. No? You will not know if you do not want to know.
It can't be known. Even the Catholic Church doesn't claim to have any external proofs of its own authority. The Catholic Church merely says that people who have faith know "the Church has authority" and "the Catholic Church is the Church" to be true propositions and that people without faith don't know this and can't know this.

Quote
Quote
God's laws are secret and hidden.

Not at all. His Commandments are crystal clear in the Decalogue, and the natural law is known through conscience to all who seek Truth.
This is assuming that the Decalogue came from God. But I don't know whether or not it did. For all I know, somebody may have made it all up and then attributed it to God.
As for the theory of natural law, that's a philosophical principle/hypothesis. Not something which any faithless man knows for sure. Maybe there is no such thing as a 'natural law'. Maybe divine command theory is right, or maybe God is a utilitarian. I have no idea.

Quote
Quote
Since I personally don't have the knowledge

Please read this to see some of the great things Jesus has done in the history of His Church, which could help you, if you are really willing and desirous to acquire that salvific knowledge: "The analyses were conducted with absolute and unquestionable scientific precision and they were documented with a series of microscopic photographs.

These analyses sustained the following conclusions: The Flesh is real Flesh. The Blood is real Blood. The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species ... (see the link for more)" http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/lanciano.html

And Fr. Michael Mueller, as posted in another thread, documents umpteen other well-documented Eucharistic Miracles. Atheistic scientists have converted upon seeing these.
I'll read it over, but I don't see how 'miracles' can qualify as a source of true knowledge. Nobody, not even the expert scientist, is in the position judge whether or not these 'happenings' actually happened, and, if they happened, whether or not they're really miracles (as opposed to natural occurrences and/or deliberate fraud). Science doesn't know everything, so even if 100% of all scientists agreed that this cannot be explained by science, then that doesn't mean it's a 'miracle'... it just means it's unexplainable.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: St. Columba on February 14, 2019, 12:54:07 PM
Daniel, I have the highest respect for you.  You are clearly trying to do the right thing. 

If Catholicism is true, and yet, you believed, in your heart of hearts, that it would be irrational to practice the faith whilst not having certainty, then you are listening to and obeying your conscience.  At worst, you will not be damned, since you (a) do not have knowledge that what you are doing is sinful, and (b) you are invincibly ignorant.  At best, God will crown you with many crowns, and give you the grace of salvation, since (a) you were validly baptized and (b) have committed no mortal sin by not practicing the faith, since you do not have knowledge of the sinfulness of not practicing the faith under the circumstances you find yourself in.  Besides, you have the ardent desire for truth. 

All of this hinges on absolute certainty.  Does the natural law prohibit the practice of a faith unless, and until, one is absolutely certain of it's veracity?  I don't know, to be honest.

I can totally relate to your predicament Daniel.  I consider you the most honest person on this forum (not to mention abundant humility and intelligence).  I cannot fathom, for the life of me, how God could possibly reject someone who so much wants to please Him and do what is right.  I HIGHLY suspect that God will grant you one of the highest places in Heaven, after He reveals His truth to you.

Be at peace friend. 

You are in my lowly prayers.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 15, 2019, 01:13:47 AM
Dear Daniel, you have embraced a dogmatic agnosticism that holds all knowledge to be near-impossible to obtain. This worldview keeps you from coming to know and experience the Love that God has for you, especially in His Sacrament of Love. He calls you to come back into His loving arms today, trusting Him to reveal Himself to you.

Quote
It can't be known. Even the Catholic Church doesn't claim to have any external proofs of its own authority.

Not at all. See Vatican I, "In order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God's will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the Holy Spirit external indications of his revelation, that is to say divine acts, and first and foremost miracles and prophecies, which clearly demonstrating as they do the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are the most certain signs of revelation and are suited to the understanding of all. Hence Moses and the Prophets, and especially Christ our Lord himself, worked many absolutely clear miracles and delivered prophecies". And Pope St. Pius X's Oath against Modernism, "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 and ... these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time. Thirdly ... the Church, the guardian and teacher of the revealed word, was personally instituted by the real and historical Christ when he lived among us, and that the Church was built upon Peter, the prince of the apostolic hierarchy, and his successors for the duration of time." Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical on Christian Philosophy sums it up, "In the first place, then, this great and noble fruit is gathered from human reason, that it demonstrates that God is; for the greatness of the beauty and of the creature the Creator of them may be seen so as to be known thereby.(17) Again, it shows God to excel in the height of all perfections, especially in infinite wisdom before which nothing lies hidden, and in absolute justice which no depraved affection could possibly shake; and that God, therefore, is not only true but Truth itself, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Whence it clearly follows that human reason finds the fullest faith and authority united in the word of God. In like manner, reason declares that the doctrine of the Gospel has even from its very beginning been made manifest by certain wonderful signs, the established proofs, as it were, of unshaken truth; and that all, therefore, who set faith in the Gospel do not believe rashly as though following cunningly devised fables,(18) but, by a most reasonable consent, subject their intelligence and judgment to an authority which is divine." So She most certainly teaches there are external proofs. You can find all these online for further reading if you wish.

Quote
The Catholic Church merely says that people who have faith know "the Church has authority" and "the Catholic Church is the Church" to be true propositions and that people without faith don't know this and can't know this.

This is an erroneous proposition called "fideism". the Church rejects it, and the harm it has already caused to your own Faith shows why.

Quote
I'll read it over, but I don't see how 'miracles' can qualify as a source of true knowledge. Nobody, not even the expert scientist, is in the position judge whether or not these 'happenings' actually happened, and, if they happened, whether or not they're really miracles (as opposed to natural occurrences and/or deliberate fraud). Science doesn't know everything, so even if 100% of all scientists agreed that this cannot be explained by science

It is just one of the countless miracles that Jesus Christ the Lord Our God has worked over the history of His Church, as He did in Israel for the Patriarchs and Prophets. The scientifically documented Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano shows any sincere observer, with safe-to-act-upon moral certainty, that the God Who did these things is Powerful beyond our imagination. If only you would regularly communicate with Him in the Blessed Sacrament, you would know that limitless Power and Infinite Love also by spiritual experience, as Fr. Mueller says. Please continue to pray, read and study. You can find numerous other miracles posted in the Real Presence Thread. We will be praying for you, dear Daniel. God bless.

Edit: The world tells us it is charity to be indifferent about whether or not others believe in, know or experience God's Love for them. But Jesus assures us charity desires for all others all that we desire for our own selves; yea, to desire more for others than for us, as Jesus showed us Himself. St. Thomas says when a person participates in Mass reverently and receives Holy Communion devoutly, it profits him as much and he merits to an even greater extent than as if he himself really, in an excess of supreme love, died and laid down his life in martyrdom for God and for his neighbor! God has already done the hard part Himself - He does not ask us to die on a Cross for love of God and us as He did, to carry it perfectly and in the midst of inconceivable sufferings and sorrows!! No, all He asks us is the simple and easy thing of going regularly to Confession, spending time in prayer, especially praying the Rosary, and regularly coming to Holy Mass to spend time in His Presence and benefit from Holy Communion.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 15, 2019, 01:36:15 AM
Daniel, I have the highest respect for you.  You are clearly trying to do the right thing. 

If Catholicism is true, and yet, you believed, in your heart of hearts, that it would be irrational to practice the faith whilst not having certainty, then you are listening to and obeying your conscience.  At worst, you will not be damned, since you (a) do not have knowledge that what you are doing is sinful, and (b) you are invincibly ignorant.  At best, God will crown you with many crowns, and give you the grace of salvation, since (a) you were validly baptized and (b) have committed no mortal sin by not practicing the faith, since you do not have knowledge of the sinfulness of not practicing the faith under the circumstances you find yourself in.  Besides, you have the ardent desire for truth. 

All of this hinges on absolute certainty.  Does the natural law prohibit the practice of a faith unless, and until, one is absolutely certain of it's veracity?  I don't know, to be honest.

I can totally relate to your predicament Daniel.  I consider you the most honest person on this forum (not to mention abundant humility and intelligence).  I cannot fathom, for the life of me, how God could possibly reject someone who so much wants to please Him and do what is right.  I HIGHLY suspect that God will grant you one of the highest places in Heaven, after He reveals His truth to you.

Be at peace friend. 

You are in my lowly prayers.

St. Columba and Daniel,

I don't think that honest and sincere agnosticism is admirable. The honest and sincere part may get you a high place in heaven if God knows you are just confused; but God means truth to be knowable and His Church to be believed.  What a pity it is to be unable to accept this in your life.

Cardinal Newman (soon to be canonized) said that "ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt". The fact that you have many difficulties does not make it immoral to believe: humbly accept the fact that you will not have all the answers in your life. Who do you think you need to be, the greatest theologian (with insight into God's mysteries)? God gave you faith (not knowledge) when you were baptized;  PRAY that He may strengthen it.  That is the most important thing, that is what may be missing.

Whatever you think about these things, PRAY.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: St. Columba on February 15, 2019, 12:37:37 PM
Following one's conscience, after one has painstakingly searched for what is true, is still a solemn duty, even if it is materially erroneous.

Aquinas (SUMMA - Part II: Part 1, Question 19, Article 5):

For in matters of indifference, the will that is at variance with erring reason or conscience, is evil in some way on account of the object, on which the goodness or malice of the will depends; not indeed on account of the object according as it is in its own nature; but according as it is accidentally apprehended by reason as something evil to do or to avoid. And since the object of the will is that which is proposed by the reason, as stated above (3), from the very fact that a thing is proposed by the reason as being evil, the will by tending thereto becomes evil. And this is the case not only in indifferent matters, but also in those that are good or evil in themselves. For not only indifferent matters can received the character of goodness or malice accidentally; but also that which is good, can receive the character of evil, or that which is evil, can receive the character of goodness, on account of the reason apprehending it as such. For instance, to refrain from fornication is good: yet the will does not tend to this good except in so far as it is proposed by the reason. If, therefore, the erring reason propose it as an evil, the will tends to it as to something evil. Consequently the will is evil, because it wills evil, not indeed that which is evil in itself, but that which is evil accidentally, through being apprehended as such by the reason. In like manner, to believe in Christ is good in itself, and necessary for salvation: but the will does not tend thereto, except inasmuch as it is proposed by the reason. Consequently if it be proposed by the reason as something evil, the will tends to it as to something evil: not as if it were evil in itself, but because it is evil accidentally, through the apprehension of the reason. Hence the  Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 9) that "properly speaking the incontinent man is one who does not follow right reason; but accidentally, he is also one who does not follow false reason."  We must therefore conclude that, absolutely speaking, every will at variance with reason, whether right or erring, is always evil.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 16, 2019, 08:25:12 AM
I'm not sure whether what St. Thomas is saying here can be applied to situations like mine. Because St. Thomas is speaking of situations in which you wrongly believe something to be evil, and you do it anyway. In my case, however, I don't believe that it's wrong to obey the Catholic Church. My concern is that I have no idea whether it's right or wrong. If I do it anyway, I am not doing something which I believe is wrong... I am doing something which I believe might be wrong. Still, there is the point which St. Columba raised, about whether or not it is morally permissible to do something which you believe might be wrong. I, too, have no idea.

My other concern is less 'admirable' but nevertheless a constant irritation in my mind, especially on Sundays: Since the Catholic Church commands me to do all sorts of stuff which hurts me in one way or another, and since for all I know there might not be anything wrong with disobeying the Church, then what I am wondering is, why should I obey the Catholic Church? If I knew that the Catholic Church is in fact God's true spokesman, then I would gladly obey the Catholic Church without question. But I don't know that much.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Michael Wilson on February 16, 2019, 01:43:19 PM
Daniel stated:
Quote
Since the Catholic Church commands me to do all sorts of stuff which hurts me in one way or another,..
What sort of things does the Church command you to do which is hurtful?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: james03 on February 16, 2019, 01:45:45 PM
Quote
As I understand it, the Church condemns hedonism on the grounds that hedonism does not lead to salvation.

But what about those of us who probably won't be saved anyway? Seeing as there is no road to salvation for us (the reprobate), and seeing as our damnation--if God wills it--is inevitable, why should we not spend our short lives doing whatever we want?

Your question is strange.  To ask this question shows a Faith in God.  It is very likely that the majority of Catholics go to heaven, at least it is a sane belief for one to place Hope in.  So I don't get the "probably won't be saved" part.  If I remember correctly, you are the dude with scruples.  You really need to get that fixed dude.

But if we look at it from the point of view of the heathen, then at first glance hedonism is rational.  If you want to rape a little girl, and you can get away with it, you should do it.

Interestingly in the heathen "manosphere", they have ended up rejecting hedonism (which was their original stance) and now the prevailing philosophy is "being the best version of yourself", which can be translated to "live a life of Catholic Virtue".  I always like viewing empirical proof of God's existence among the heathen.

Of course this leads one down a dangerous path: Why not rape a little girl (if you can get away with it)?  What is evil?  Why has rampant hedonism led to unhappiness?  At the end you find God if you keep going down that road.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: james03 on February 16, 2019, 01:49:43 PM
Quote
Even the Catholic Church doesn't claim to have any external proofs of its own authority.
  Depends on what you mean by "eternal proofs".  You don't have an "external proof" that you existed 1 second ago.

But proofs exist.  The fact that the whole Christian world accepts the Catholic compiled New Testament is one such proof.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 16, 2019, 06:45:52 PM
Quote
Even the Catholic Church doesn't claim to have any external proofs of its own authority.

But proofs exist.  The fact that the whole Christian world accepts the Catholic compiled New Testament is one such proof.
The problem there is you have four claimants to who actually compiled the New Testament: Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and The Assyrian Church of the East.

And considering that the New Testament was compiled at several different local Church Councils, in Hippo, in Rome, and in the Byzantine Empire, along with the fact that the one compiled at Rome is not actually the same Canon used today (the Roman list left out Hebrews, believing it to not be canonical / spurious due to some of the mystical elements of it), makes it harder to claim that the New Testament is a product of the Roman Catholic Church.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 16, 2019, 06:51:34 PM
Also, the Ethiopian Bible has 8 extra books in the New Testament so the claim that the whole Christian world uses the same New Testament Canon is false.

https://www.ethiopianorthodox.org/english/canonical/books.html
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 16, 2019, 08:05:02 PM
What sort of things does the Church command you to do which is hurtful?
1. The law obliging me to physically attend Mass on Sundays, which causes me to suffer hatred and sadness and, at times, the desire for suicide.
2. The teaching forbidding me from engaging in commerce and servile labor on Sundays, which completely disrupts my workflow and my enjoyment and my life in general. (Further, if this teaching is wrong and if God actually forbids work on Saturday rather than Sunday, then this teaching is indirectly causing me to sin against the sabbath. Because naturally if I can't do stuff on Sunday then I do it on Saturday instead.)
3. The teaching preventing me from getting married. I am now in my thirties and would like to get married but cannot because the Catholic Church says it would be a sacrilege. If the Catholic Church is wrong, then I'm going to be unmarried for my entire life for no reason at all. Not to mention that my family's bloodline will die out since I am the only male this generation.
4. The law that says we must give money to the Catholic Church. I've been setting the money aside in a locked box in my closet, but it's a considerable amount of money, and I don't have a lot of money, so I'm not about to give it to the Catholic Church or to anyone else until I know for sure that I have to.
5. The teaching that says that we must assent to Catholicism and that we must reject all of the explicitly non-Catholic religious and philosophical views. (I pretty much disregard this teaching since it is impossible for me to follow it without turning my back on Truth.)

Things would be a whole lot easier if I didn't have to obey these sorts of things. And for all I know, maybe I don't have to obey any of it. Nevertheless, I cannot disprove the Catholic Church's authority, and to disobey the Catholic Church without proof would probably be rash.
If, however, I knew that the Catholic Church's laws and teachings were in fact God's laws and teachings, then I would gladly do all of these things. Because I'd then be obeying God, and I'd know that what I am doing is not in vain.


Your question is strange.  To ask this question shows a Faith in God.  It is very likely that the majority of Catholics go to heaven, at least it is a sane belief for one to place Hope in.  So I don't get the "probably won't be saved" part.  If I remember correctly, you are the dude with scruples.  You really need to get that fixed dude.
Well my views have probably changed somewhat since I posted that. But if I recall, I think what I meant was that my experience has led me to believe that God probably isn't going to save me. Or, if things continue as they are now, then God isn't going to save me. I guess I'll rephrase that: God might save me, or God might not save me, and there's nothing I can do but to accept my fate. And, in the meantime, I can live my life only in darkness, completely blind to the moral law (which I suspect is something knowable only through revelation and faith, not through reason).

Depends on what you mean by "external proofs".  You don't have an "external proof" that you existed 1 second ago.
Well, I believe that I existed 1 second ago, but I don't know that I existed 1 second ago. I admit that maybe I didn't exist 1 second ago.
This is unlike the faithful Catholics who (supposedly) know that the Catholic Church has authority. They deny the very possibility that the Catholic Church might not have authority.
The only way to know that the Catholic Church has authority, as far as I'm aware, is through 'faith'. If you have faith, you know that the Catholic Church has authority. If you don't have faith, you can't know that the Catholic Church has authority.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 16, 2019, 08:45:41 PM
But if I recall, I think what I meant was that my experience has led me to believe that God probably isn't going to save me. Or, if things continue as they are now, then God isn't going to save me. I guess I'll rephrase that: God might save me, or God might not save me, and there's nothing I can do but to accept my fate. And, in the meantime, I can live my life only in darkness, completely blind to the moral law (which I suspect is something knowable only through revelation and faith, not through reason).

The concepts of "God saving you" are concepts generally exclusive to Christianity and Islam, which implies a belief in either Christian or Islamic Monotheism, and from there, you just have to look at the claims of each of those religions to see if it makes logical sense.
There are a lot of denominations of Christianity, but you can group Evangelical Christianity / most of Protestant Christianity together insofar as they have shared concepts - Sola Scriptura, that Churches can be created from the Bible's authority, Sola Fida.

You also seem to forget that it's dogma in all of Christian and Islamic religions that God will judge the world in perfect justice. And it seems that those who have a greater grasp on the Truth will be judged more harshly than those who don't.
James 3:1.

And even then, wouldn't you generally agree that even in Pagan religions like Jainism, Hinduism, Taoism, Sikhism, Buddhism...ish if you consider that a "religion," etc., there's a certain level of morality and wisdom that the monasticism those religions promote has which is beneficial for one's soul than what pure atheism and hedonism is able to provide?

Again, while it isn't easy, I would say the typical Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate Conception has much more happiness than some hedonist like Seth Rogen.

Maybe you should visit a Traditional Monastery and talk to some monks to see what they see as valuable in life, and ask why they became monks.

I also personally recommend that you watch the film "The Island" - it's a fictional Russian Orthodox film about a modern day "Fool for Christ" (In Orthodoxy, this is a calling for some - it's a person who intentionally lives to a rule code of socially abnormal behavior in order to reveal the sins of others - in one scene, he faces the wrong way during Liturgy on purpose, which annoys a Pharisaical monk whose more focused on the behaviors of others than himself) - although I think one of the actors was so inspired by the production of the film and the Monastery that he became a monk.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 16, 2019, 09:09:27 PM
Daniel, another thing:

In some of the Eastern Catholic Churches (I know the Melkites are rather strict), there is incredibly strict fasting which is done to subdue and lockdown the passions and to grow closer to Christ. During Lent, those Catholics have to specifically abstain from all forms of meat and dairy for the whole of Lent, and on Wednesday and Friday during every day of the year.

Do you think that those Churches would mandate such harsh requirements on people with Anorexia, or Bulimia?

Of course not.

You ought to talk with your priest to figure what's going on and to find the best course for you.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 17, 2019, 12:35:11 AM
...
Well, I believe that I existed 1 second ago, but I don't know that I existed 1 second ago. I admit that maybe I didn't exist 1 second ago.


Catholics, non-Catholics, and those unsure about their faith all know they existed 1 second ago - except a strange, out of kilter exception like you, Daniel.  A lack of mathematical proof and the ability to think the contrary thought does not prove a lack of knowledge.  You're asking far too much of "knowledge". It seems one would have to be God to have the kind of knowledge you are looking for.

I agree that it takes faith to know the authority of the Catholic Church, and I pray that you get it (or get it back). I know that only God can give you faith but often He works through some kind of moral certainty followed by PRAYER. But it doesn't take faith to know you existed a second ago. That you aren't even  sure of that makes me worry about your further thinking: your ability to accept any kind of moral certainty at all.

Maybe the Church seems hurtful to you but that is only because you are only a ghost Catholic.  You can't blame the Church for that.

You do believe in God? Pray to him for humility in the face of the knowledge He does give you.  Pray to Him for peace, because I don't think you have it.  (I know I am being repetitive (and hypocritical; I may say "pray" more than I do it) - but it is still true) :pray2:
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 17, 2019, 09:40:58 AM
The concepts of "God saving you" are concepts generally exclusive to Christianity and Islam, which implies a belief in either Christian or Islamic Monotheism, and from there, you just have to look at the claims of each of those religions to see if it makes logical sense.
There are a lot of denominations of Christianity, but you can group Evangelical Christianity / most of Protestant Christianity together insofar as they have shared concepts - Sola Scriptura, that Churches can be created from the Bible's authority, Sola Fida.
I haven't extensively researched any of them, but from what I can tell none of them are illogical. Some might be unscientific, but not illogical. Some seem more probable than others, but probabilities cannot give us certainty. Only faith gives certainty, as far as I know.

You ought to talk with your priest to figure what's going on and to find the best course for you.
I've tried with two different priests, but it didn't work either time unfortunately.


You do believe in God? Pray to him for humility in the face of the knowledge He does give you.  Pray to Him for peace, because I don't think you have it.  (I know I am being repetitive (and hypocritical; I may say "pray" more than I do it) - but it is still true) :pray2:
I can't pray to God. That's too risky, because for all I know God might be like a human king. And as we know, a random guy off the street does not just barge into the king's chamber and start talking to the king. If he did that, he'd surely offend the king's majesty, and the king would rightly have him beheaded. So if God is like a king, then prayer is not an option. Rather, I would need to find some extremely holy intercessor, whom God favours, who could deliver the message on my behalf. But without assuming any one religion to be right, I know of no such intercessor. So I'm in no position to be praying to God, much less demanding that He reveal Himself to me or do anything else for me.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 17, 2019, 10:10:25 AM
1. The law obliging me to physically attend Mass on Sundays, which causes me to suffer hatred and sadness and, at times, the desire for suicide.
2. The teaching forbidding me from engaging in commerce and servile labor on Sundays, which completely disrupts my workflow and my enjoyment and my life in general. (Further, if this teaching is wrong and if God actually forbids work on Saturday rather than Sunday, then this teaching is indirectly causing me to sin against the sabbath. Because naturally if I can't do stuff on Sunday then I do it on Saturday instead.)
3. The teaching preventing me from getting married. I am now in my thirties and would like to get married but cannot because the Catholic Church says it would be a sacrilege. If the Catholic Church is wrong, then I'm going to be unmarried for my entire life for no reason at all. Not to mention that my family's bloodline will die out since I am the only male this generation.
4. The law that says we must give money to the Catholic Church. I've been setting the money aside in a locked box in my closet, but it's a considerable amount of money, and I don't have a lot of money, so I'm not about to give it to the Catholic Church or to anyone else until I know for sure that I have to.
5. The teaching that says that we must assent to Catholicism and that we must reject all of the explicitly non-Catholic religious and philosophical views. (I pretty much disregard this teaching since it is impossible for me to follow it without turning my back on Truth.)

Things would be a whole lot easier if I didn't have to obey these sorts of things. And for all I know, maybe I don't have to obey any of it. Nevertheless, I cannot disprove the Catholic Church's authority, and to disobey the Catholic Church without proof would probably be rash.
If, however, I knew that the Catholic Church's laws and teachings were in fact God's laws and teachings, then I would gladly do all of these things. Because I'd then be obeying God, and I'd know that what I am doing is not in vain.

Just to nitpick, Daniel, but there are a few problems here.  Technically a family's bloodline will not die out if the sole male heir expires without issue, so long as he has a sister who produces a child.  In old-fashioned terms, yes, it would indicate the end of the line, but those were formulated in the days before DNA testing, and at any rate they were not sufficient to protect against cuckoldry.  DNA is more reliable than family name.  Secondly, I think the obligation to honor the Sabbath on a Saturday is only incumbent upon Jews; being a Gentile, you would need only follow the Noahide Laws (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah) if you were agnostic to Judaism.  I am not however sure what kind of afterlife you could expect to earn as a "righteous pagan," as Judaism has been historically ambiguous on that point altogether.  The Sadducean sect did not even believe in an afterlife at all: when you died and went into the ground, the Creator was effectively done with you.  Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Third, if you "don't have a lot of money" but "would like to get married" (and presumably have children), then the pecuniary matter would need to be resolved before taking into consideration what the Catholic Church teaches about marriages contracted without faith on the part of the groom.  Maximilian and queen.saints might disagree, as they contend Lady Poverty ought to be embraced as lovingly by the married as the celibate.  But from a practical standpoint it seems that a modicum of financial health is desirable for getting married with the intention of starting a family.  Occasionally the "dude bro" traditional Catholics are right about some things.

Lastly, I can only offer that suicidal thoughts are something you probably ought to discuss with your confessor if they arise from your attendance at Mass.  Perhaps you have already done that.  Xavier has termed your thought process a "dogmatic agnosticism," but I think it might be worse than that.  It seems to be more of a "paralyzing agnosticism," where your uncertainty is manifesting in a kind of existential vertigo.  You are between Scylla and Charybdis at every turn: damned if you do, and damned if you don't.  If you're in your early thirties and would like to get married and have children, then this sort of thing could intellectually bog you down for years on end at a crucial time in your life.  In your situation, you would probably be best to plump with a "Pascal's Wager" type of faith.  Granted, if you bet on Catholicism and it turns out Islam was true, then yes, you would've wagered wrong.  But we still take a hit on twelve.  Whether cruelly or not, life demands that we assess the religions and go all in on the one that looks most likely to be true.  It might not be (God could be a trickster, offering a more plausible religion, Christianity, while placing salvation in the wild-eyed Arabian madness of Islam).  You just never know, but "that's life."  Pascal admitted it's a gamble.  But one has to do something, otherwise a person stagnates.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 17, 2019, 01:28:27 PM
I haven't extensively researched any of them, but from what I can tell none of them are illogical. Some might be unscientific, but not illogical. Some seem more probable than others, but probabilities cannot give us certainty. Only faith gives certainty, as far as I know.

You think Sola Scriptura is logical?

That the Bible, which was a product of the Church and was given authority by the Church, is ultimately where the Church's authority derives from?

Or that the Bible is infallible because it's the Word of God, we know it's the Word of God because the Bible says so, and we can know that the Bible is trustworthy because it's infallible?

What about Islam - is it logical that in the Old Testament, a Prophet could never  give theological falsehood, yet the Prophet Muhammad literally contradicted himself when he first accepted the Three Pagan Goddesses as legitimately from God, but then later said "Oops, the Devil was whispering to me?" Is it logical that the entire point of one's spiritual life on Earth is acetic denial of the flesh, but for Islam, Eternal Life would be drinking wine and orgies with virgins? Is it logical that Jesus as a Prophet would reject divorce as immoral, yet the Prophet Muhammad re-enabled divorce for literally any reason?

Is it logical that the Prophet Muhammad ordered people to follow some elements of Kosher and the Old Law as mandated by God, because they were absolutely mandated by God and never abolished, but other parts can be arbitrarily ignored?

Is it logical that God would send Jesus to have Disciples to create communities, knowing full well they would apostatize immediately in such a short amount of time that there can be no evidence of such an apostasy ever occurring, and would wait for another Prophet 750 years later to fix things?

Is it logical that God would demand witnesses for every occasion of Testimony, yet the Quran appears in a dream with no witnesses to confirm it's legitimacy, so God no longer actually demands witnesses?


And yes, you're right - it is mostly probabilities. But humans live off of probabilities and need it to function to a certain degree. Probabilities don't always guarantee Truth, of course - but you live off the probability that your reality actually exists, the probability that you actually haven't been brainwashed with false-memories, the probability that DNA tests are accurate and you can trust them to learn more about yourself - probabilities that are necessary to function.

Belief in these probabilities are based on Faith, and likewise, Faith in God is necessary to function properly.

You ought to talk with your priest to figure what's going on and to find the best course for you. I've tried with two different priests, but it didn't work either time unfortunately.
Have you tried visiting another rite? And you don't have to listen to me, but what about visiting an Orthodox Priest - Eastern or Oriental?


Quote
I can't pray to God. That's too risky, because for all I know God might be like a human king. And as we know, a random guy off the street does not just barge into the king's chamber and start talking to the king. If he did that, he'd surely offend the king's majesty, and the king would rightly have him beheaded. So if God is like a king, then prayer is not an option. Rather, I would need to find some extremely holy intercessor, whom God favours, who could deliver the message on my behalf. But without assuming any one religion to be right, I know of no such intercessor. So I'm in no position to be praying to God, much less demanding that He reveal Himself to me or do anything else for me.

What legitimate Monotheistic religion on this earth believes that God hates unworthy people reaching out to Him, even if it's limited?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: james03 on February 17, 2019, 05:54:38 PM
Quote
That man always resists merely sufficient grace is not a defect in the grace but a defect in man.

Pure Lutheran Heresy.  Man is totally depraved even AFTER regeneration.  I'd like to see a cite where St. Thomas even comes close to this.  But you'll find a lot of discussion on this from Luther.  The dung pile covered with snow.  Heresy.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: james03 on February 17, 2019, 05:59:48 PM
Quote
The problem there is you have four claimants to who actually compiled the New Testament: Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and The Assyrian Church of the East.

In 382 they were all Catholic under the Pope.  And it was the Pope that took the final table of contents and sent St. Jerome to compile a proper translation into the common tongue.

This is an external proof of the authority of the Catholic Church.  There are many others.  The claim that there is no external proof was absurd.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on February 17, 2019, 09:24:36 PM
What about Islam - is it logical that in the Old Testament, a Prophet could never  give theological falsehood, yet the Prophet Muhammad literally contradicted himself when he first accepted the Three Pagan Goddesses as legitimately from God, but then later said "Oops, the Devil was whispering to me?"


The historicity of the event you describe is disputed. Although there might be some historical basis for it, in its present form it's certainly a later, exegetical fabrication.

Is it logical that the entire point of one's spiritual life on Earth is acetic denial of the flesh, but for Islam, Eternal Life would be drinking wine and orgies with virgins?

Two remarks:

1. In Islam, the purpose of one's life on earth is not an ascetic denial of the flesh but a balance between spiritual and bodily needs.
2. The nature of paradise is described in the Qur'an and in the prophetic traditions in a profoundly symbolic language. Muhammad says in Tirmidhi that "Allah has said: I have prepared for My righteous servants what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no heart has conceived." It's no such much about "orgies" but about perfect bliss of mind and body, painlessness, justice, absence of sleep or fatigue, etc. Even the said wine does not intoxicate.

Is it logical that Jesus as a Prophet would reject divorce as immoral, yet the Prophet Muhammad re-enabled divorce for literally any reason?

This sort of thing has to be analyzed keeping in mind that Islam presents itself as the definite criterion by which all previous revelation is corrected. So the absolute prohibition against divorce, for instance, is seen an error probably influenced by Gnosticism.

Is it logical that the Prophet Muhammad ordered people to follow some elements of Kosher and the Old Law as mandated by God, because they were absolutely mandated by God and never abolished, but other parts can be arbitrarily ignored?

See above.

Is it logical that God would send Jesus to have Disciples to create communities, knowing full well they would apostatize immediately in such a short amount of time that there can be no evidence of such an apostasy ever occurring, and would wait for another Prophet 750 years later to fix things?

This can be one the strongest arguments against Islam: the historicity of the Christian belief in Christ's divinity. It can also be tricky at times, especially given the vast material of modern scholarship on Early Christianity. Nevertheless, it's the strongest argument, in my view.

Is it logical that God would demand witnesses for every occasion of Testimony, yet the Quran appears in a dream with no witnesses to confirm it's legitimacy, so God no longer actually demands witnesses?

The Qur'an was progressively revealed during a time span of approximately 22 years. Although there were no witnesses but Muhammad himself in the first instance of revelation at the Cave of Hira, the same cannot be said for the rest of his life. He often experienced these revelations in public or at home with other people. The validity of the whole corpus of revelation hinges upon two main points:

1. Historical: the teachings, integrity, demeanor, miracles and overall prophetic coherence of Muhammad, as recorded by his followers and the early Islamic community;
2. Present: the coherence, excellence and (allegedly) miraculous nature of the textus receptus itself. This is the challenge the Qur'an itself makes which presupposes the ability of each generation of people to verify it which, in turn, will confirm or deny Muhammad's prophethood.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 17, 2019, 09:30:59 PM
Lastly, I can only offer that suicidal thoughts are something you probably ought to discuss with your confessor if they arise from your attendance at Mass.  Perhaps you have already done that.  Xavier has termed your thought process a "dogmatic agnosticism," but I think it might be worse than that.  It seems to be more of a "paralyzing agnosticism," where your uncertainty is manifesting in a kind of existential vertigo.  You are between Scylla and Charybdis at every turn: damned if you do, and damned if you don't.  If you're in your early thirties and would like to get married and have children, then this sort of thing could intellectually bog you down for years on end at a crucial time in your life.  In your situation, you would probably be best to plump with a "Pascal's Wager" type of faith.  Granted, if you bet on Catholicism and it turns out Islam was true, then yes, you would've wagered wrong.  But we still take a hit on twelve.  Whether cruelly or not, life demands that we assess the religions and go all in on the one that looks most likely to be true.  It might not be (God could be a trickster, offering a more plausible religion, Christianity, while placing salvation in the wild-eyed Arabian madness of Islam).  You just never know, but "that's life."  Pascal admitted it's a gamble.  But one has to do something, otherwise a person stagnates.
That might be true, but, if it is, then I have no choice but to reject the Catholic Church in favour of something like deism. Because my experience and the scientific evidence both tell me that the Catholic Church is probably a false religion, and that God has probably never revealed Himself to man. Certainly deism is the most probable religious framework, to my current knowledge.
Still, I won't willingly abandon Catholicism or become a deist, because that would be dishonest and unreasonable. The best I can say is that I honestly don't know, and leave it at that. (Though I still can't help but wonder why I should submit to the Catholic Church, when, in my mind, it probably doesn't hold any authority anyway...)



In 382 they were all Catholic under the Pope.  And it was the Pope that took the final table of contents and sent St. Jerome to compile a proper translation into the common tongue.

This is an external proof of the authority of the Catholic Church.  There are many others.  The claim that there is no external proof was absurd.
But how is that a 'proof'? For all any of us know, nothing existed before "last Thursday". But even without going to that extreme, I still don't see how the biblical canon proves that the Catholic Church is really a divinely-appointed authority. Maybe everyone was duped and accepted the Catholic Church's canon despite the fact that the Catholic Church never had any authority. Here's a possibility: maybe the true Church went invisible before there ever was a biblical canon. And the so-called 'Catholic Church' later filled the void. Or here's another possibility: maybe Jesus founded the Catholic Church, but maybe Jesus isn't God and his church never had any real authority to begin with. The existence of a widely-accepted biblical canon doesn't seem to prove anything, unless I completely misunderstand your argument.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 17, 2019, 10:59:03 PM
Quote
The problem there is you have four claimants to who actually compiled the New Testament: Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and The Assyrian Church of the East.

In 382 they were all Catholic under the Pope.  And it was the Pope that took the final table of contents and sent St. Jerome to compile a proper translation into the common tongue.
Which is why the Book of Hebrews is absent from the Pope Saint Damasus’s  “definitive” list.

Again, this is just an assertion.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 17, 2019, 11:03:30 PM
.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 17, 2019, 11:47:46 PM
Quote
The problem there is you have four claimants to who actually compiled the New Testament: Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and The Assyrian Church of the East.

In 382 they were all Catholic under the Pope.  And it was the Pope that took the final table of contents and sent St. Jerome to compile a proper translation into the common tongue.
Which is why the Book of Hebrews is absent from the Pope Saint Damasus’s  “definitive” list.

Again, this is just an assertion.

The assertion that Hebrews was absent from Pope St. Damasus' list appears incorrect: "Council of Rome of 382 and the Biblical canon
One of the important works of Pope Damasus was to preside in the Council of Rome of 382 that determined the canon or official list of Sacred Scripture. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, states: A council probably held at Rome in 382 under St. Damasus gave a complete list of the canonical books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament (also known as the 'Gelasian Decree' because it was reproduced by Gelasius in 495), which is identical with the list given at Trent. " https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Damasus_I#Council_of_Rome_of_382_and_the_Biblical_canon

"The Epistles of Paul the Apostle in number fourteen. To the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Ephesians one, to the Thessalonians two, to the Galatians one, to the Philippians one, to the Colossians one, to Timothy two, to Titus one, to Philemon one, to the Hebrews one." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Rome

As regards Holy Mass, man should consider it his greatest privilege and joy to participate in the Holy Sacrifice. The holy Angels come to the Sanctuary trembling with reverence and joy when the Priest offers the divine Victim on the Altar. We should participate in Holy Mass with the same sentiments of thanksgiving as we would have participated on Calvary, knowing Our Lord Jesus was dying for our sins.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: TheReturnofLive on February 18, 2019, 12:19:29 AM
Okay, I guess I’m wrong.

But again - why would the African Churches hold a Council determining the New Testament Canon 10 years after Rome has spoken, with the case being closed?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 18, 2019, 01:59:17 AM

You do believe in God? Pray to him for humility in the face of the knowledge He does give you.  Pray to Him for peace, because I don't think you have it.  (I know I am being repetitive (and hypocritical; I may say "pray" more than I do it) - but it is still true) :pray2:
I can't pray to God. That's too risky, because for all I know God might be like a human king. And as we know, a random guy off the street does not just barge into the king's chamber and start talking to the king. If he did that, he'd surely offend the king's majesty, and the king would rightly have him beheaded. So if God is like a king, then prayer is not an option. Rather, I would need to find some extremely holy intercessor, whom God favours, who could deliver the message on my behalf. But without assuming any one religion to be right, I know of no such intercessor. So I'm in no position to be praying to God, much less demanding that He reveal Himself to me or do anything else for me.

Since you are posting on a Catholic forum, why not first consider a God who (as the Catholic Church teaches) does hear prayers.  If there is such a God,  He may help you.  If there is no God or no God who cares one way or the other, no harm will be done.  If there is a "cruel king" God such as you conjecture,  He's going to be very angry with you for being so unsure of Him - pray or not you are going to be in big trouble if not beheaded.  Pray "if there is a God who will listen...". Why should it matter if you feel silly?

You're in no position to NOT be praying. I worry for you if you are really resisting prayer.

St. Columba said:

...
I cannot fathom, for the life of me, how God could possibly reject someone who so much wants to please Him and do what is right. 

If you are trying to please Him why don't you pray?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 18, 2019, 07:25:13 AM
Please pray the Rosary every day, Daniel. It is a very easy, and most powerful and efficacious means to obtain or recover sanctity, and abundant wealth of grace. And remember what Jesus said, "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things [i.e. all our daily needs in the world] shall be added unto you." (Mat 6:33), as so many have discovered when they began to practice putting God and a holy life first. God loves us and wants to Provide us with the best things - the life of sanctifying grace, great merit here below, great glory in heaven; and His Providence will also provide us with all that is needed for life, when we trust in Him and ask Him for those graces and blessings, even temporal blessings. May God bless you, Daniel, we'll be praying for you.

http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/red-rose.htm#2

Quote
A RED ROSE: FOR SINNERS

POOR MEN AND WOMEN who are sinners, I, a greater sinner than you, wish to give to you this rose----a crimson one, because the Precious Blood of Our Lord has fallen upon it. Please God that it will bring true fragrance into your lives----but above all may it save you from the danger that you are in. Every day unbelievers and unrepentant sinners cry: "Let us crown ourselves with roses." [1] But our cry should be: "Let us crown ourselves with roses of the Most Holy Rosary."... On the contrary, sinners' roses only look like roses, while in point of fact they are cruel thorns which prick them during life by giving them pangs of conscience, at their death they pierce them with bitter regret and, still worse, in eternity, they turn to burning shafts of anger and despair. But if our roses have thorns, they are the thorns of Jesus Christ Who changes them into roses. If our roses prick us, it is only for a short time----and only in order to cure the illness of sin and to save our souls.

So by all means we should eagerly crown ourselves with these roses from Heaven, and recite the entire Rosary every day, that is to say three Rosaries each of five decades which are like three little wreaths or crowns of flowers: and there are two reasons for doing this: First of all to honor the three crowns of Jesus and Mary----Jesus' crown of grace at the time of His incarnation, His crown of thorns during His passion and His crown of glory in Heaven, and of course the three-fold crown which the Most Blessed Trinity gave Mary in Heaven.

Secondly, we should do this so that we ourselves may receive three crowns from Jesus and Mary. The first is a crown of merit during our lifetime, the second, a crown of peace at our death, and the third, a crown of glory in Heaven.

If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins "you shall receive a never fading crown of glory." [2] Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practise black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if----and mark well what I say----if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.

In this book there are several stories of great sinners who were converted through the power of the Holy Rosary. Please read and meditate upon them ... TWENTY-FIFTH ROSE: THE WEALTH OF SANCTIFICATION

NEVER WILL ANYONE really be able to understand the marvelous riches of sanctification which are contained in the prayers and mysteries of the Holy Rosary. This meditation on the mysteries of the life and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the source of the most wonderful fruits for those who use it.

Today people want things that strike and move and that leave deep impressions on the soul. Nor has there ever been anything in the whole history of the world more moving than the wonderful story of the life, death and glory of Our Savior which is contained in the Holy Rosary. In the fifteen tableaux the chief scenes or mysteries of His life unfold before our eyes. How could there ever be any prayers more wonderful and sublime than the Lord's Prayer and the Salutation of the Angel? All our desires and all our needs are found expressed in these two prayers ...

For never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood. "
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 18, 2019, 08:49:21 AM
That might be true, but, if it is, then I have no choice but to reject the Catholic Church in favour of something like deism. Because my experience and the scientific evidence both tell me that the Catholic Church is probably a false religion, and that God has probably never revealed Himself to man. Certainly deism is the most probable religious framework, to my current knowledge.
Still, I won't willingly abandon Catholicism or become a deist, because that would be dishonest and unreasonable. The best I can say is that I honestly don't know, and leave it at that. (Though I still can't help but wonder why I should submit to the Catholic Church, when, in my mind, it probably doesn't hold any authority anyway...)

Well, Pascal's Wager only applies to religions that threaten an afterlife of hell.  Otherwise there's nothing to be risked and no point in making a wager.  Even if we say that deism is the most probable case, the deist God is wholly impartial to whether anyone is a deist or not, and does not threaten non-deists with eternal punishment.  And we can handily remove any "what if?" suppositions such as "what if God is really touchy and doesn't want to be acknowledged at all?," since any whimsical supposition we could come up with out of an endless number of suppositions would stand only as equal a chance of being true as the rest of them.  Unless something about God has been offered as true by someone claiming to be a prophet or viceroy for God, it can be reasonably discarded into the bin of random suppositions.

That leaves us with the missionary religions: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.  Buddhism can be excluded from Pascal's Wager because the penalty for not taking up Buddhism is simply rebirth, but since we don't remember our past lives (or at least I can't), this is a penalty without a sting, as rebirth is no different from birth.  Some schools of Buddhism, such as the Tibetan form, do posit hells, but these can be dismissed as syncretisms where the Buddhist message was overmingled with the local paganism.  The Buddha was a Hindu, and his preoccupation was liberation.  Samsara alone was enough endless suffering for him.  You might argue are that there are myriad cult religions to be considered, such as Scientology, Mormonism, Raëlism, &c., but these were all founded recently enough in history that we can see clearly the obvious fabrications by their founders.  Weighing them for probability, they come up far short of the major established monotheisms.

The only two left to consider, then, are Christianity and Islam.  (Judaism is covered with whichever one a person a chooses, since the Noahide Laws would be kept under both systems).  There isn't much of a contest between Christianity and Islam, so at that point it realistically comes down to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy.  If I was making the wager, I probably would put my chips on the latter at this point, after sixty years of apparent defection from Rome, but you seem loyal to Catholicism, and I won't criticize that as a poor bet.  It is, after all, the second most likely.  So you have to go in for Catholicism.  At this point it doesn't matter if you don't know for certain whether it's true.  Pascal's Wager is intended precisely for the uncertain.  You seem so sufficiently worried that Catholicism might be true that in your scheme the proposition must be close to even money.  Otherwise it wouldn't be troubling you so much.

Granted, you could choose to take your time and contemplate the wager for years and years, but in doing so you may be putting off the things you'd prefer to do in life, like getting married and raising children.  It seems more practical to just make the wager now, commit to a belief in Catholicism, and see about the places in your area where you might be able to meet Catholic women in your age bracket.  The odds aren't likely to change too much from where they stand now.  Worst case scenario, things at the Vatican get more outrageous than they already are (Pope Clare Brigid III takes the chair), at which point somewhere in the future you and your wife might have to have a serious discussion about converting to Orthodoxy.  Best case scenario, you have a wife and children (and the family line continues).  Maybe at some point you and your wife and teenaged son will watch the movie Barry Lyndon, and when you read its epilogue you'll think to yourself with an existential sigh, "if I really consider it, that does indeed seem to be the most likely way of all things.  But I've made my wager, and it's paid off so far, and if I persist it'll pay off at my death in the event that God exists.  Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."

(https://external-preview.redd.it/m_i_vaQWAwzWlLwXfwML9DC6hOCVwa8JPKPDc7IDlAg.jpg?width=1200&height=628.272251309&auto=webp&s=c0b8d1e35dc8cfc97d8fab17af78dd7e7ef6a92d)
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 18, 2019, 09:46:47 AM
Well, Pascal's Wager only applies to religions that threaten an afterlife of hell.  Otherwise there's nothing to be risked and no point in making a wager.  Even if we say that deism is the most probable case, the deist God is wholly impartial to whether anyone is a deist or not, and does not threaten non-deists with eternal punishment.
I guess. But this is why I don't agree with Pascal.
Pascal places the emphasis on the subjective rather than on the objective: on knowledge and happiness rather than on truth and goodness. Pascal says that we can't obtain knowledge so we're free to gamble, and that we can obtain happiness but only through the gamble... from which it follows that agnosticism is out, and that there's also no point in ever gambling on any religion which does not promise to be able to give us happiness.
But this all seems backwards. The emphasis should probably be placed on the objective: we should be committed to truth even if there is no hope of ever knowing the truth, and we should serve goodness even if it does not bring us happiness. If we can obtain knowledge of truth then that's great, but if we can't then that doesn't mean that we are free to hold to things which aren't true. And if our service to goodness brings us happiness then that's great. But if it doesn't bring us happiness, then that doesn't mean we needn't serve.

Quote
The only two left to consider, then, are Christianity and Islam.  (Judaism is covered with whichever one a person a chooses, since the Noahide Laws would be kept under both systems).
I don't think you can eliminate Judaism that easily. Because if rabbinical Judaism is right, and Jesus is not God, then Christians violate the Noahide law forbidding the worship of idols.
And not to get off topic, but, do you happen to know, what exactly makes a person a 'Jew'? Is it purely genetic? Suppose there is some Muslim who keeps the Noahide laws, but it turns out that this Muslim has some Jewish DNA. Would Jews say that it's ok for him to continue being a Muslim? Or would they say that he needs to obey the Mosaic law?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Michael Wilson on February 18, 2019, 09:47:01 AM
I'm totally amazed at all of y'all's replies to Daniel; my head just spins around and around when I read his posts full of systematic doubt. He is in such a bad state spiritually and mentally that I all I can do is pray for him.  :pray2:
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 18, 2019, 10:33:41 AM
Pascal places the emphasis on the subjective rather than on the objective: on knowledge and happiness rather than on truth and goodness. Pascal says that we can't obtain knowledge so we're free to gamble, and that we can obtain happiness but only through the gamble... from which it follows that agnosticism is out, and that there's also no point in ever gambling on any religion which does not promise to be able to give us happiness.
But this all seems backwards. The emphasis should probably be placed on the objective: we should be committed to truth even if there is no hope of ever knowing the truth, and we should serve goodness even if it does not bring us happiness. If we can obtain knowledge of truth then that's great, but if we can't then that doesn't mean that we are free to hold to things which aren't true. And if our service to goodness brings us happiness then that's great. But if it doesn't bring us happiness, then that doesn't mean we needn't serve.

No, I disagree.  The only thing we can be absolutely certain of—the only thing we can truly know for sure—is consciousness.  Specifically, our own consciousness.  There is really no refuting solipsism.  Even if this material world is an artifice or a deception (a brain in a vat, Last Thursdayism, a simulation, or maya) we still have consciousness to perceive it.  The brute fact of our own consciousness seems the only irrefutable fact.  Others report consciousness, of course, and we have no known reason not to believe them, but at best we can only assign extremely high odds to their claims.  Everything besides our own consciousness must be handled on the basis of probability and likelihood; the quest for absolute certainty is the greatest wild goose chase of them all.  To be "committed to truth even if there is no hope of ever knowing the truth" is an exercise in futility.  Come now, we only get one life.  Even if reincarnation is true, we only get a present life where memory persists: with consciousness and the various probabilities of things.  So Pascal is correct to set it up as a wager on odds.  (Where he fails, in my view, is that the odds are not quite as strong for Catholicism as he fancies).  But his wager would absolutely apply to someone who's reckoning the odds at almost 50/50, as you seem to be.  If you're as worried about this as you appear, then you would profit by making the wager.  You've got nothing to lose except hand-wringing and despair.

Adding to why you ought to make the wager is your original question in the OP of "why not hedonism?"  If, in your case, you feel like you would find happiness in marrying, then that would shift not the odds but the impetus for wagering on Catholicism.  Presumably you would be happy marrying a Catholic, since your general outlook is Catholic and conservative.  I suppose you could try to find a nice deist girl to marry, but as deism has no content to shape a person's attitudes, you would be more likely to wind up with, say, someone who wears candy-striped stockings, short skirts, nose rings, and magenta hair.  I don't think you'd find lasting contentment with Ramona Flowers.  Which isn't to say all of your potential Catholic brides will not be worldly to some degree, but overall the field would be more favorable to your preferences.  So even from a hedonistic imperative, your surest bet is to wager on Catholicism and proceed with finding some happiness in life.  The other option is to proceed from an ascetic imperative (where in doing so you might chance upon that "peace which passes all understanding" of the mystics and contemplatives), in which case Catholicism is somewhat amenable to that as well, even if some of your macho co-religionists will mock you for it.  There will be much sectarian squabbling on that account, but crosses are meant to be borne.  I'm not seeing how anything points away from Catholicism for you.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 18, 2019, 11:06:50 AM
I don't think you can eliminate Judaism that easily. Because if rabbinical Judaism is right, and Jesus is not God, then Christians violate the Noahide law forbidding the worship of idols.

That's a fair point, and I take the correction; I guess we would have to technically put Judaism into consideration, since it and Christianity are mutually exclusive there.  But, still, I think Christianity beats out Judaism rather easily.  You might have a different view.  I am even sympathetic to those ancient forms of Christianity which set themselves up as opposed to the God of the Old Testament.  A demiurge seems more likely to exist, to my lights, than a God who embodies all the intrinsic paradoxes and contradictions of the Old Testament deity being omnibenevolent.  But that is a different matter.  I probably weight these things with different odds than you do.  It's all subjective.

And not to get off topic, but, do you happen to know, what exactly makes a person a 'Jew'? Is it purely genetic? Suppose there is some Muslim who keeps the Noahide laws, but it turns out that this Muslim has some Jewish DNA. Would Jews say that it's ok for him to continue being a Muslim? Or would they say that he needs to obey the Mosaic law?

I do not know.  I imagine it might vary from sect to sect.  Matrilineal descent, from what I gather.  But converts are accepted, at least I have a cousin who converted to Reform Judaism strictly for marriage, but they're like the Novus Ordo version of Jews anyway, believing in some vague "just be good and be nice" God.  Chestertonian is a convert from Judaism (Hasidic or Orthodox, I think).  You could send him a private message since he might not be reading this thread.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 18, 2019, 01:10:08 PM
No, I disagree.  The only thing we can be absolutely certain of—the only thing we can truly know for sure—is consciousness.  Specifically, our own consciousness.  There is really no refuting solipsism.  Even if this material world is an artifice or a deception (a brain in a vat, Last Thursdayism, a simulation, or maya) we still have consciousness to perceive it.  The brute fact of our own consciousness seems the only irrefutable fact.  Others report consciousness, of course, and we have no known reason not to believe them, but at best we can only assign extremely high odds to their claims.  Everything besides our own consciousness must be handled on the basis of probability and likelihood; the quest for absolute certainty is the greatest wild goose chase of them all.  To be "committed to truth even if there is no hope of ever knowing the truth" is an exercise in futility.
Although I cannot conceive of the non-existence of my own consciousness, I am not entirely certain that the existence of my consciousness is irrefutable. But for the sake of the argument, I'll grant that it is.
I would disagree that this is the only thing we can know with certainty. Because by knowing my own consciousness, I can also know at least one other thing: that true statements exist. Because from the very fact that 'at least one consciousness exists' is true, it follows that 'at least one true statements exists' is a true statement. And from 'at least one consciousness exists' and 'at least one true statement exists' both being true statements, it follows that 'at least two true statements exist'. And so on, ad infinitum. But I suppose all of these truths are trivial.

However, if there is such a thing as 'faith', then people who have faith also possess all sorts of other, non-trivial knowledge. They somehow know that the statements 'God exists', 'Jesus is God', 'the crucifixion actually happened', 'the Catholic Church [or Orthodox Church, or whatever] is the true Church', 'the world was not created last Thursday', 'I am not a brain in a vat', 'other people exist', 'Pope Francis is [or isn't] the pope', etc., etc., are all true statements. And perhaps most fundamentally of all, they know that 'faith exists' is a true statement. Nobody else knows that 'faith exists' is a true statement, but they know that it's true.

Moreover, if the Catholic Church is right, then faith is necessary for salvation. A person without faith, even if he gambles and guesses correctly, will not be saved.

Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that God only gives it to some people and not to other people. Those unfortunate men who don't receive it can know nothing of value. Still, that doesn't mean they should wager. They should probably just wait around trying their best to remain agnostic, until God chooses to give faith to them. Because if God wants to save that person, surely God will give that person the means to salvation. But if God does not give that person the means to salvation, it only proves that God does not want to save that person. God's will (i.e. goodness) is the only thing that matters, not any man's personal happiness. Those who do not receive faith should not wager... they will be miserable and damned, but their damnation is what God wants, and so they should submit to goodness and accept their damnation. I think.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Vetus Ordo on February 18, 2019, 02:08:27 PM
Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that God only gives it to some people and not to other people.

Correct.

Ultimately, you're either a sheep or a goat. As far as it is within your power now, Daniel, strive to be a sheep. That is the Christian life.

Agnosticism and skepticism, taken as belief systems rather than tools of inquiry, are absolute dead-ends. Post-modernism has demonstrated it to its fullest extent. They cannot bring about personal growth in virtue and intellect, much less in spirit, or enable those admirable collective achievements such as the building of civilizations and the flourishing of art, law, etc. It is far nobler and more fitting, I say, for man to act and believe wrongly than for a man to cease from acting at all and believe in nothing.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 18, 2019, 03:54:30 PM
Although I cannot conceive of the non-existence of my own consciousness, I am not entirely certain that the existence of my consciousness is irrefutable. But for the sake of the argument, I'll grant that it is.
I would disagree that this is the only thing we can know with certainty. Because by knowing my own consciousness, I can also know at least one other thing: that true statements exist. Because from the very fact that 'at least one consciousness exists' is true, it follows that 'at least one true statements exists' is a true statement. And from 'at least one consciousness exists' and 'at least one true statement exists' both being true statements, it follows that 'at least two true statements exist'. And so on, ad infinitum. But I suppose all of these truths are trivial.

However, if there is such a thing as 'faith', then people who have faith also possess all sorts of other, non-trivial knowledge. They somehow know that the statements 'God exists', 'Jesus is God', 'the crucifixion actually happened', 'the Catholic Church [or Orthodox Church, or whatever] is the true Church', 'the world was not created last Thursday', 'I am not a brain in a vat', 'other people exist', 'Pope Francis is [or isn't] the pope', etc., etc., are all true statements. And perhaps most fundamentally of all, they know that 'faith exists' is a true statement. Nobody else knows that 'faith exists' is a true statement, but they know that it's true.

Moreover, if the Catholic Church is right, then faith is necessary for salvation. A person without faith, even if he gambles and guesses correctly, will not be saved.

Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that God only gives it to some people and not to other people. Those unfortunate men who don't receive it can know nothing of value. Still, that doesn't mean they should wager. They should probably just wait around trying their best to remain agnostic, until God chooses to give faith to them. Because if God wants to save that person, surely God will give that person the means to salvation. But if God does not give that person the means to salvation, it only proves that God does not want to save that person. God's will (i.e. goodness) is the only thing that matters, not any man's personal happiness. Those who do not receive faith should not wager... they will be miserable and damned, but their damnation is what God wants, and so they should submit to goodness and accept their damnation. I think.

Admittedly, making the wager would not mean you'd immediately be gifted with the faith.  But I'm not seeing how God would emphatically not want the person to wager.  Making any act of good will in the direction of the faith is typically seen as a positive: "seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it will be opened to you."  Pascal's Wager is not the same as taking up the faith cynically or insincerely.  It's a concession that there is enough likelihood there to proceed with obeisance to the strictures and a friendliness to the faith.  Error, for example, according to Catholicism, has no rights, so for one thing you would want to stop publicly giving voice to any skepticism or ideas contrary to the faith, lest you give scandal.  If God can be pleased by the actions of his mortal creatures (which the bible consistently says he is), then presumably a person making the wager is more pleasing to God than a person settling for agnosticism.  Making the wager and surrendering all your questions is like the widow's mite which, according to Catholicism, is pleasing to God.  What does the agnostic give?  He or she just keeps on spinning their wheels, questioning but never committing.  "But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth."

I guess we could get into all the relevant problems of predestination and God's will, but that inevitably ends up in paradox.  Vetus Ordo is one of the staunchest defenders of Augustinian predestination on this or any forum, and even he is telling you to "strive to be a sheep."  If you could find at least a priest or a theologian or some random forum user who agrees with you, then you might have something.  But if you want to know what a Catholic in your position should do, then Catholics are unanimously telling you, even if you lack the faith, to love God and to pray.  I'm not sure, but even St. Columba who admires your honesty would probably ask if you could manage at least that.

One problem I see with Pascal's Wager, though, in terms of marriage, is that you aren't supposed take communion for so long as you lack the faith.  And if the faith takes a long time in coming to you (if it arrives at all, that is; God's decision, not yours) then you would not be making your Easter duty during your marriage, and your wife might start to suspect something and probably ask some questions.  You would have to be honest with any Catholic girlfriend about your lack of faith during the courtship process, and I think confessing that you're privately agnostic would severely hamper your chances with many Catholic women (outside of the Novus Ordo "believe whatever" types).  I wonder if Pascal was ever confronted with this.  His wager, for a single man or woman, all but obliges that person to a life of celibacy, unless they can find a suitable non-Catholic spouse (which a Catholic is discouraged from doing).  So I retract that part.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Gardener on February 18, 2019, 04:58:23 PM

Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that God only gives it to some people and not to other people. Those unfortunate men who don't receive it can know nothing of value. Still, that doesn't mean they should wager. They should probably just wait around trying their best to remain agnostic, until God chooses to give faith to them. Because if God wants to save that person, surely God will give that person the means to salvation. But if God does not give that person the means to salvation, it only proves that God does not want to save that person. God's will (i.e. goodness) is the only thing that matters, not any man's personal happiness. Those who do not receive faith should not wager... they will be miserable and damned, but their damnation is what God wants, and so they should submit to goodness and accept their damnation. I think.

Quote
1. Granted that everyone is bound to believe something explicitly, no untenable conclusion follows even if someone is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts. For it pertains to divine providence to furnish everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that on his part there is no hindrance. Thus, if someone so brought up followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must most certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him as he sent Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:20)..

2. Although it is not within our power to know matters of faith by ourselves alone, still, if we do what we can, that is, follow the guidance of natural reason, God will not withhold from us that which we need.
De Veritate, Q. 14, Art. 11, Answers.
https://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/QDdeVer14.htm#11

See also, SCG, Book III, Ch 159, titled "THAT IT IS REASONABLE TO HOLD A MAN RESPONSIBLE IF HE DOES NOT TURN TOWARD GOD, EVEN THOUGH HE CANNOT DO THIS WITHOUT GRACE" https://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/ContraGentiles3b.htm#159
-----

Calvinist BS: "Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that God only gives it to some people and not to other people."

Properly rephrased, IAW St. Thomas:
"Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that only some people accept it and not other people."

So stop rejecting it.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Arvinger on February 18, 2019, 05:49:49 PM
Calvinist BS: "Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that God only gives it to some people and not to other people."

Properly rephrased, IAW St. Thomas:
"Further, faith is a gift from God. And it seems that only some people accept it and not other people."

So stop rejecting it.

As it was pointed out many times on this forum (as much as I disagree with QMR on many issues, he is absolutely right about this one), the above does not solve the problem. How can man accept the gift of faith (or any other grace)?

1. Either he can do it on his own,
2. Or he needs another grace to do that (grace of accepting faith)

If 1), that means that man can do something apart from God's grace and it makes God dependant upon human choices (as some proponents of Molinism openly admit, like William Lane Craig saying that "God has to play the hand he was dealt" due to being limited by our free choices). If 2), the problem returns - it looks like God does give the grace of accepting faith only to some people, and not others. So, apparently it is semi-Pelagianism or Calvinism.

The essence of all predestination debates boils down to this: there is an apparent contradiction (but not actual one, since we know there cannot be a contradiction in Church's teaching) between the fact that God wants everyone to be saved yet does not predestine everyone to be saved. There is certainly an explanation to this (there has to be, since both are taught by the Church), but we have failed to come up with one so far and it remains a mystery. If you try to say that predestination is PPM and God wants to save everyone but respects our choices and predestines only those who chose Him, that makes God dependant of our choices. If predestination is APM, then so is reprobation (since lack of APM predestination necessitates in damnation of an individual - if he was not predestined to Heaven the only other place he can end up in is Hell) and you end up with Calvinism. Well, it is a mystery.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Gardener on February 18, 2019, 06:06:57 PM
St. Thomas is very clear in the sources I cited that it is in man to reject it; without resistance, the grace simply does its work. Fr. Most addresses the issue of non-resistance as an "ontological zero" in his work on Predestination, something the Banezians deny as itself a good (and throw the argument into an infinite regressive loop).

Grace is God's part. The freely willed reaction to it is man's part, either a good or a bad. It's not the fault of God if man rejects that grace, and it's a recasting of the argument to say that man doing something only possible by the offering of grace is a sort of "stolen good" from God. It's utterly moronic, in fact. Man does a good action by adhering to grace in its non-resistance, and from there follows a positive action. But that good is secondary to the primary good of God offering it.

The reality is the Banezian system despises that man can do any sort of good, even secondarily, because it's really proto-Calvinist trash built on the house of sand that is a single period in Augustine's thought. St. Thomas corrected it.

If I offer my child food, and they eat it, they are NOT eating the food apart from my offering it but entirely within the purpose of it and secondarily to my primary offering. It's as simple as that.

It's not semi-pelagianism because semi-pelagianism is the following: man does good and God ratifies it supernaturally with grace. But that's not what's being said and those who would cast it as semi-pelagianism are actually redefining that heresy. What's being said is God offers man grace and man then does good with that grace in a cooperative manner. That's the whole point of grace! But for the Augustinian and/or Banezian crowd, that's somehow unacceptable.

Faith precedes salvation, with which Predestination is ultimately concerned. But there are likely plenty of people in hell who had faith at some point in time, perhaps for most of their lives. That they made the freely willed choice to reject grace and mortally sin isn't God's problem.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: St. Columba on February 18, 2019, 06:14:22 PM
I'm not sure whether what St. Thomas is saying here can be applied to situations like mine. Because St. Thomas is speaking of situations in which you wrongly believe something to be evil, and you do it anyway. In my case, however, I don't believe that it's wrong to obey the Catholic Church.

Forgive me Daniel...I was under the impression that you thought that practicing the Catholic faith, or any faith for that matter, was wrong (evil) until one had absolute certainty that it was true.

If that is what you truly believe in your heart of hearts, then what St. Thomas is saying does seem to apply to you.  If we must obey our conscience, after an honest pursuit of truth, even if it is erroneous at the end of the day, then error actually does have rights, at least in the subjective arena.

My concern is that I have no idea whether it's right or wrong. If I do it anyway, I am not doing something which I believe is wrong... I am doing something which I believe might be wrong. Still, there is the point which St. Columba raised, about whether or not it is morally permissible to do something which you believe might be wrong. I, too, have no idea.

Ahhh. Ok.  You think it might be okay to practice the faith absent certainty, but are not sure.  Well, that is where I am friend! 

AFAIK, the Catholic Church does not prohibit belief that is a product of the movement of the will, forcing the intellect to assent.  Where is gets tricky is the Catholic Church does forbid one to entertain doubts regarding the same.

If I knew that the Catholic Church is in fact God's true spokesman, then I would gladly obey the Catholic Church without question. But I don't know that much.

I know you would Daniel...which is why I know you are honest and seeking in good faith.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 19, 2019, 07:34:10 PM
St. Columba, Daniel,

Here's another quote from St. Thomas that may contribute to the discussion on following one's conscience:

Quote from: St. Thomas S. T. I IIae Q19 A6
If then reason or conscience err with an error that is voluntary, either directly, or through negligence, so that one errs about what one ought to know; then such an error of reason or conscience does not excuse the will, that abides by that erring reason or conscience, from being evil. But if the error arise from ignorance of some circumstance, and without any negligence, so that it cause the act to be involuntary, then that error of reason or conscience excuses the will, that abides by that erring reason, from being evil.

If one's conscience "feels clear" but it is due to an erroneous opinion that arose (even long before) from one's past fault, the will that follows that conscience is not excused.

Is it possible that there could be a little pride in thinking that one can't believe anything unless his mind is humanly 100% satisfied before he assents to it as a matter of faith?  Think of St. Thomas the Apostle; he couldn't humanly understand that a man could rise from the dead, but Christ told him he was less blessed than one who believed without seeing.  I think there is a kind of intellectual humility in faith.

"Lord I do believe; help my unbelief". To me this quote means that faith is not totally incompatible with a little uncertainty, although we cannot deliberately dwell on this uncertainty.  The uncertainty makes the faith less perfect; it does not mean that we ought not to believe.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: St. Columba on February 19, 2019, 08:42:36 PM
Is it possible that there could be a little pride in thinking that one can't believe anything unless his mind is humanly 100% satisfied before he assents to it as a matter of faith?  Think of St. Thomas the Apostle; he couldn't humanly understand that a man could rise from the dead, but Christ told him he was less blessed than one who believed without seeing.  I think there is a kind of intellectual humility in faith.

"Lord I do believe; help my unbelief". To me this quote means that faith is not totally incompatible with a little uncertainty, although we cannot deliberately dwell on this uncertainty.  The uncertainty makes the faith less perfect; it does not mean that we ought not to believe.

Ask Quare.  He is the one that exposed me to this whole faith-requires-absolute-certainty thing, and it has been bothering me for about a year now.  From what I can tell, Newman struggled with this for decades, and dare I say it, I don't think he came up with a totally satisfactory answer.  If Newman couldn't, what chance do I have?

But I have chosen different from Daniel.  I have chosen to practice the faith, even if I do not possess 100% absolute intellectual certitude.  I have more than enough evidence to proceed, and I would feel guilty, knowing what I know, if I turned my back on Catholicism. 
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 20, 2019, 04:02:16 AM
This midnight post is a little too meandering, but I hope some will be able to comment.

Is it possible that there could be a little pride in thinking that one can't believe anything unless his mind is humanly 100% satisfied before he assents to it as a matter of faith?  Think of St. Thomas the Apostle; he couldn't humanly understand that a man could rise from the dead, but Christ told him he was less blessed than one who believed without seeing.  I think there is a kind of intellectual humility in faith.

"Lord I do believe; help my unbelief". To me this quote means that faith is not totally incompatible with a little uncertainty, although we cannot deliberately dwell on this uncertainty.  The uncertainty makes the faith less perfect; it does not mean that we ought not to believe.

Ask Quare.  He is the one that exposed me to this whole faith-requires-absolute-certainty thing, and it has been bothering me for about a year now.  From what I can tell, Newman struggled with this for decades, and dare I say it, I don't think he came up with a totally satisfactory answer.  If Newman couldn't, what chance do I have?

But I have chosen different from Daniel.  I have chosen to practice the faith, even if I do not possess 100% absolute intellectual certitude.  I have more than enough evidence to proceed, and I would feel guilty, knowing what I know, if I turned my back on Catholicism.

Needless to say, believing that Christ is God, and founded and teaches through the Catholic Church is the huge first step.  Once that is believed the rest should follow, if there is humility to accept what we don't understand (lowering our view of our intellect in the face of God's infinite truth).  I think (as I understand it, imperfectly) there should be 100% simple assent to what is taught (God said it, it must be true), even though there may be very troublesome difficulties ("help my unbelief"). St. Thomas the Apostle had every reason to know Christ was God and should have believed what he heard, even though "a man rising from the dead" was inconceivable.

(Of course the question may arise (as it does today) "did the Church really teach it", but that does not deny the authority of the Church)

As far as believing that Christ founded and speaks through the Catholic Church I think that this is not entirely figured out (with 100% intellectual satisfaction) by a man, but comes as faith, the gift from God, usually (for the convert) AFTER a man has studied and found the Church by all appearances worthy of belief by a reasonable man (moral certitude), and AFTER a man has PRAYED.   This is when a man may say "Now I see" (the "aha moment", for some converts). It is not that all difficulties disappear, but that he can give full assent (simple assent, not 100% intellectual satisfaction) to "the whole bundle", and is ready to become a Catholic. Perhaps there isn't an "aha moment" but just a simple gradual realization that the Catholic Church is meant to be believed. For a baptized baby the supernatural virtue of faith is accompanied by a growing explicit awareness and acceptance of the Church as a sure teacher (which depends on having responsible Catholic parents but also on the child's free will).

I don't believe that the full assent ALWAYS comes by some mystical experience that (if I recall correctly) Quare speaks of. This doesn't happen with baptized babies who grow up Catholic, or with most converts (based on my personal experience with and reading about converts).  Yet they do believe.  They assent to all that the Church teaches, whether or not they are intellectually satisfied by each detail. 

Believing Catholics are like the Apostles who heard Christ say " "Except you eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.".  They do not understand what he is saying (think how much of more of a shock it was for them hearing it for the first time, unlike us).  But they do not walk away like some disciples, saying "This saying is hard, and who can hear it?". Instead, Simon Peter speaks for them "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. [70] And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.". Catholics should believe the same thing about the Catholic Church.

Next, here is a quote from someone who is not a traditionalist or scholar but rather a popular Catholic priest on youtube; he quotes the CCC.  I'd be glad to hear any criticism anyone reading this has of what he has to say:

Quote from: Struggling to Believe is Not the Same Thing as Doubting

Fr. Mike Schmitz
https://bulldogcatholic.org/in-your-last-column-you-said-you-believe-everything-the-church-teaches-what-if-i-struggle-with-believing-where-does-that-put-me/

Q: In your last column, you said you believe everything the Church teaches. What if I struggle with believing? Where does that put me?

A: We are sometimes under the impression that believing or having faith means that we simply accept a teaching or the situations of our lives with no questions. If that is the case, then I need to clarify what I mean by having faith. It certainly does mean assenting to all of the truths of the Catholic Church, but it does not necessarily mean the absence of struggling with belief.

We know that faith is not mere belief. Faith is when we submit our intellect and will to God, who has revealed himself to us through Scripture and tradition. It involves both our minds and our lives. Because of this, faith is not the absence of a struggle. The life of faith is by its very nature a battle to place our entire selves under Christ’s lordship. If you struggle to do this, it is not failure, it is engaging the call.

The great figures of the Old and New Testaments demonstrate that faith involves struggle. Think of Abraham struggling to walk in faith as he is called from his homeland. Consider the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel through the night. (As a result of his struggle, he is rewarded with the new name Israel.) Even Jesus, in a mysterious way, struggled when faced with doing his Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. Think of the great saints who asked the deepest and most difficult questions about the existence and nature of God, suffering and salvation.

The difference between these examples and someone who rejects God is the difference between having doubts and having difficulties. Not only are doubts and difficulties not the same thing, they are not even the same kind of thing. Doubt is a decision. A difficulty is a dilemma.

Every sin is essentially a decision. No one sins accidentally. A sin is not a mistake. Sin is essentially about relationship. It involves knowing what God wants and refusing to obey God in love. It isn’t an error; it is saying “no.”

Sin looks like this: “God, I know what you want me to do. I don’t care. I want to do what I want to do.”

Therefore, when it comes to doubt, this also involves full knowledge and full consent of the will. It is saying, “I know what the Church teaches, and I know why the Church teaches this. I refuse to submit to it.”

That may be you. You may find yourself in rebellion against God or against the Church. But it may be that you have difficulties with belief. Many times, we think that we are doubting when we are actually merely struggling to understand or to live up to our call to be holy.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls this struggle “involuntary doubt.” It refers to “hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity” (CCC 2088). This is vastly different from “voluntary doubt,” which “disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief.”

The difference between difficulties and doubts is so profound that Blessed John Henry Newman once stated that “10,000 difficulties do not make one doubt.”

And yet, we have to be a person who is not content with difficulties or anxieties. We may say things like “I struggle with some teachings of the Church” with a sly look in our eyes. That contentedness with difficulty is neither noble nor harmless. It is one thing to struggle to know and love God and something quite else to have “difficulties” and not care to resolve them. That attitude can often lead to a spiritual blindness and an inability to hear God when He speaks. There is very little that God can do with the cool and indifferent.

Even if people have a difficult time with faith, if they struggle to seek after and follow God, they are light years ahead of one who does not believe and does not care. If we seek, knock and ask, we have Jesus’ word: We will find.

===================

Maybe the most serious concern I have with Daniel is that in his quest for absolute certainty he isn't even sure that he can PRAY. Copy of a earlier post:


You do believe in God? Pray to him for humility in the face of the knowledge He does give you.  Pray to Him for peace, because I don't think you have it.  (I know I am being repetitive (and hypocritical; I may say "pray" more than I do it) - but it is still true) :pray2:
I can't pray to God. That's too risky, because for all I know God might be like a human king. And as we know, a random guy off the street does not just barge into the king's chamber and start talking to the king. If he did that, he'd surely offend the king's majesty, and the king would rightly have him beheaded. So if God is like a king, then prayer is not an option. Rather, I would need to find some extremely holy intercessor, whom God favours, who could deliver the message on my behalf. But without assuming any one religion to be right, I know of no such intercessor. So I'm in no position to be praying to God, much less demanding that He reveal Himself to me or do anything else for me.

Since you are posting on a Catholic forum, why not first consider a God who (as the Catholic Church teaches) does hear prayers.  If there is such a God,  He may help you.  If there is no God or no God who cares one way or the other, no harm will be done.  If there is a "cruel king" God such as you conjecture,  He's going to be very angry with you for being so unsure of Him - pray or not you are going to be in big trouble if not beheaded.  Pray "if there is a God who will listen...". Why should it matter if you feel silly?

You're in no position to NOT be praying. I worry for you if you are really resisting prayer.

St. Columba said:

...
I cannot fathom, for the life of me, how God could possibly reject someone who so much wants to please Him and do what is right. 

If you are trying to please Him why don't you pray?

===================

After all that,  I have to say that maybe Michael Wilson is right here:

I'm totally amazed at all of y'all's replies to Daniel; my head just spins around and around when I read his posts full of systematic doubt. He is in such a bad state spiritually and mentally that I all I can do is pray for him.  :pray2:

His thinking is just not right. It's hard to see how you can support faith with such basic general problems with knowledge and certainty.  He could still have the supernatural virtue of faith and even humility; confusion can be blameless.  Of course we can't say.

:pray3:
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 20, 2019, 08:34:22 AM
Daniel, I took a long walk on a cold day yesterday and thought about Pascal's Wager, and I would like to retract my posts in favor of it.  Were the editing window still open, I would make them into "lone dot" posts.  Although I still think Pascal saw the problem with exceptional clarity, I can see why you disagree with his proposed resolution.  He took far too much for granted.  I embraced his thinking too rashly, whereas you were already several steps ahead of me in diagnosing its faults.  I can be particularly slow when it comes to numbers, and I sometimes end up having to game "real-life scenarios" in my head in order to make sense of the maths.  This was such a time.  Mea culpa and peace be with you.  I have nothing else to add.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 20, 2019, 09:53:58 PM
Daniel, I took a long walk on a cold day yesterday and thought about Pascal's Wager, and I would like to retract my posts in favor of it.  Were the editing window still open, I would make them into "lone dot" posts.  Although I still think Pascal saw the problem with exceptional clarity, I can see why you disagree with his proposed resolution...

I think Daniel and now you are right about Pascal's wager.  But is the argument  that praying to God  is wise if you DO believe in Him (and believe that He HEARS you, whatever He does about it; even if He MAY be angry ) a form of Pascal's Wager?  It doesn't say that you should actually believe because it is useful to do so.  It proposes a possible solution and then lets you test it.  It is like calling out to someone for desperately needed help even though you think he may be angry at you for doing so. It is rational.

Or, what do YOU think about Daniel's reasoning here:

Quote from: Daniel
I can't pray to God. That's too risky, because for all I know God might be like a human king. And as we know, a random guy off the street does not just barge into the king's chamber and start talking to the king. If he did that, he'd surely offend the king's majesty, and the king would rightly have him beheaded. So if God is like a king, then prayer is not an option. Rather, I would need to find some extremely holy intercessor, whom God favours, who could deliver the message on my behalf. But without assuming any one religion to be right, I know of no such intercessor. So I'm in no position to be praying to God, much less demanding that He reveal Himself to me or do anything else for me.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 21, 2019, 07:37:18 AM
I think Daniel and now you are right about Pascal's wager.  But is the argument  that praying to God  is wise if you DO believe in Him (and believe that He HEARS you, whatever He does about it; even if He MAY be angry ) a form of Pascal's Wager?  It doesn't say that you should actually believe because it is useful to do so.  It proposes a possible solution and then lets you test it.  It is like calling out to someone for desperately needed help even though you think he may be angry at you for doing so. It is rational.

Or, what do YOU think about Daniel's reasoning here:

Quote from: Daniel
I can't pray to God. That's too risky, because for all I know God might be like a human king. And as we know, a random guy off the street does not just barge into the king's chamber and start talking to the king. If he did that, he'd surely offend the king's majesty, and the king would rightly have him beheaded. So if God is like a king, then prayer is not an option. Rather, I would need to find some extremely holy intercessor, whom God favours, who could deliver the message on my behalf. But without assuming any one religion to be right, I know of no such intercessor. So I'm in no position to be praying to God, much less demanding that He reveal Himself to me or do anything else for me.

I am now rather hesitant to criticize Daniel's thinking, because he is like a chess opponent who can map out twice as many future moves as I can.  I will merely offer that his logic appears faulty here, because he is supposing a characteristic of God (God is annoyed by prayer) that I'm not aware has been said of God by any revealed religion.  In that case, it seems a meaningless supposition.  I don't think a person should have any fear of a thus-far unrevealed God, since the possibilities for unrevealed gods are infinite, and in that case one could potentially be offending God by doing anything.  So prayer should not be dismissed by this reasoning, since it is only as likely to offend an unknown god as any other action might offend some other unknown god.  One might just as well be offending God by praying as watching Jeopardy! or clipping one's toenails.

It is strange.  Even though Daniel seems to be more favorably inclined towards Catholicism than I am, his agnosticism stretches deeper than my own.  I am agnostic with a certainty of 1.  Daniel's is a zero—he isn't even sure of consciousness.  I am at a "scoffing character in Dostoevsky" level.  Daniel might be at "yawning black chasm of absolute existential despair."


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 21, 2019, 12:56:56 PM
But there's a difference between having a generic desire to follow God's rules and actually following God's rules.

The former is easy: granted that you always acknowledge God to be most sovereign, you can never fail to want to follow all of His rules. Just keep your mind always on God's sovereignty in all your actions, and all your actions will be done with the desire to follow all of God's rules.

The latter, however, is oftentimes impossible: it pretty much requires that we have knowledge of God's rules... yet God doesn't give faith to everybody.
And it's impractical (perhaps impossible) to attempt to follow God's rules without knowing what those rules are, since all the religions seem to be contradicting one another, not to mention that it's also possible that none of the religions have knowledge of God's rules.

It's not electing to follow God's "rules" because you intellectually acknowledge him as sovereign, which isn't even a logical necessity of that acknowledgment.  Just ask Lucifer. It's loving God and neighbour out of vital necessity by the divinity dwelling within and ones ever-deepening union with it.

You're always thinking in terms of obedience demanded by authority, lists of rules, and the knowledge of the intellect. This is Satanism, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Law that cannot save.

Quote
Nevertheless, God damns people who fail to follow His rules.

God "damns" people who don't have goodness in their heart and refuse to act on the work of the law that is written onto it; because that's what damnation is. This is why there's no such thing as "ingorance" of what is moral, "ignorance" of what the good "demands"; because people know the nature of their actions, and they choose those which are after their heart.

Your views of "Christianity" are utterly diabolically-inspired, a dark hole from which there's no escape while you stubbornly cling to them.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 21, 2019, 03:47:14 PM
That leaves us with the missionary religions: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.  Buddhism can be excluded from Pascal's Wager because the penalty for not taking up Buddhism is simply rebirth, but since we don't remember our past lives (or at least I can't), this is a penalty without a sting, as rebirth is no different from birth. Some schools of Buddhism, such as the Tibetan form, do posit hells, but these can be dismissed as syncretisms where the Buddhist message was overmingled with the local paganism.

Nope. They can't be dismissed as syncretisms. The Kathavatthu, which forms part of the Pali Canon, discusses hells, and the concept of a hell in India dates at least to the period of the Upanishads. One could just as well point to the absence in the original Vedas of the notion of reincarnation; one could also point to the argument, in line with samsara and anatta, that upon death and the dissolution of the human into components, all which is "reincarnated" is the karma, not the atman.  Some schools of Buddhism deny the atman, which only makes the phenomenon of "reincarnation" even more irrelevant and the concept of "liberation" something of self-contradiction, but the Buddha only argued that nothing in samsaric existence could be rightly called "I" and that what people in general identify as the self can’t be that, not that there is nothing which transcends samsara.

Quote
The Buddha was a Hindu, and his preoccupation was liberation.  Samsara alone was enough endless suffering for him.

Hell is just a part of samsara.

Quote
You might argue are that there are myriad cult religions to be considered, such as Scientology, Mormonism, Raëlism, &c., but these were all founded recently enough in history that we can see clearly the obvious fabrications by their founders.  Weighing them for probability, they come up far short of the major established monotheisms.

Really? You have African traditional religions, Hermeticism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, and Hinduism itself. And Gnostic Christianities. They all have notions of reward and punishment and a heavenly or  afterlife, in one form or another.


Anyway, I won't defend Pascal's Wager. I think it's bullcrap that belongs to the age in which men have lost the ability of immediate experience and entered into an era of blind intellectual speculation. The moment we move from the language of myth and living ritual into that of theology, it's happened. It's the very thing Siddharta encountered in the Brahmanism of his age and against which he formulated his teaching. Heck, you take this from the Vedas and replace "Agni" with "Jesus" and "devas/gods" with "divinity" or "elohim/angels" and it sounds positively Hebrew/Catholic.

1.1.1Mantra 1 – Agni (Author: Madhucchandas Vaisvamitra)

1 I glorify Agni, the divine Priest and the messenger of my oblations to God who is the bestower of prosperity.
2 May Agni, the divine Priest who is glorified by both the past and the present sages, increase and strengthen our bond with the Devas.
3 Praying to God though Agni, the Angel Priest, may we the worshippers obtain valiant offspring, and daily increasing prosperity and glory.
4 Agni, the perfect sacrifice which thou encompassest about
Verily goeth to the Gods.
5 May Agni, sapient-minded Priest, truthful, most gloriously great,The God, come hither with the Gods.
6 Whatever blessing, Agni, thou wilt grant unto thy worshipper,That, Angiras, is indeed thy truth.
7 O Lord, the remover of darkness!  We pray to you morning and eveningwith sincere thoughts of reverence.  Through our prayers we come close to you.
8 Ruler of sacrifices, guard of Law eternal, radiant One,Increasing in thine own abode.
9 God!  Be unto us easy of access, as is a father to his son.Be ever present in our midst, giving us happiness.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 21, 2019, 08:33:41 PM
Hell is just a part of samsara.

Right.  Some of these hells are temporary and not eternal.  As I said earlier, I would retract those posts and make them into "lone dots" if I could.  I was deliberately using broad strokes because it seemed like Daniel could be gotten to Christianity without troubling overmuch with persuasion, yet I now see that he seems to be starting from a sort of "null hypothesis" of religion—in which case, every last technicality must be considered.  Some Buddhists have hells.  Some Hindus are ecumenical enough to say Christians are unknowingly practicing a form of bhakti yoga.  The Vatican says non-Christians can be saved; traditional Catholics prefer Extra ecclesiam nulla salus

To properly game out every last claim by every last religion and alleged oracle of heaven, you would need a supercomputer algorithm and a search engine that could suss out all the world's prophetesses, Messiahs, and cult leaders to the person.  That's the reason why Pascal's Wager fails, not because it's "bullcrap" as you say.  Pascal was incisive and saw the issue clearly, save for a single blinding bias.  But I was mistaken about the wager.  I thought it was something along the lines of what Non Nobis calls "a form of Pascals' Wager": an uncertain Catholic giving 50/50 odds to the Catholic God.  In that case, it makes sense.  Unalloyed, it's the noblest failure.  The odds are lottery-like unless you weight them with subjective preferences such as, "I feel like it's more reasonable that God would incarnate in a celibate first-century Jew rather than give his dispensation to a lustful seventh-century Arabian warlord."  That is fine, but if you start from zero then there is no reason why God couldn't give his message to an Arabian warlord.

You can lament the movement "from the language of myth and living ritual into that of theology" and of course that's your right.   I don't think you'd get much criticism from Pascal, who placed a premium on mystical conversion over proofs.  But that ship has sailed and it's not coming back.  Some years ago, I was right where you are.  I have a shelf of books by Mircea Eliade, Julius Evola, René Guénon, &c..  Myth and ritual and transcendence.  Yap, yap.  I don't put much stock in myths anymore.  I think they're nostalgically overrated.  Modern confusion tends us to hype the ancients.  I think in a lot of cases mythology was, no offense, the ongoing work of a succession of ignorant yahoos and mystical goo-goos who wanted people to "pay, pray, and obey," and now it seems profound because it comes to us so foreign.  I'm not saying there aren't exceptions.  But nowadays if I want "the wisdom of the ancients" I'll mainly stick with Seneca or Epicurus.  Speaks a language I can comprehend.  To each their own, of course.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 21, 2019, 10:37:40 PM
I've spoken with atheists before about whether or not a personal visitation from Jesus would convince them - unsurprisingly, the answer is usually no.

You believe, or you do not.  This is not to say that both sides do not have reasonable explanations for their stance, but it is to reject the idea of some absolute provable certainty, this magical 100%-its-true-you-cannot-deny-it-here's-the-proof-read-it-and-weep type argument / evidence.  Searching for this is absolutely futile, its kicking against the goads, Jesus never promised it, the Church never promised it, and you cannot even absolutely refute the ridiculous brain-in-vat hypothesis.  We do not require it of anything else we do in our lives, we did not require it when we chose our spouses, picked our careers, decided where to live.  But now we require it of faith?

The faith is all about love (the heart) and many today are so mired in our minds, it is no wonder we struggle so greatly.  Or at least I do.

Maybe I am mistaken but I cannot think of an instance of Jesus exalting the intellect.  And yet I spend far too much time in that arena.  One can be a good friend, and know what a good friend is.  Or one can think and ponder friendship philosophically till the cows come home and probably end up in friendship nihilism.  Jesus did not call us to ponder love, but to love.  He did not call us to intellectualize the faith, but to have faith (believe and obey).  He did not call us to absolutely know with perfect certainty (an impossibility, but I repeat myself), instead He called us to believe (I believe many a thing which I have varying degrees of certainty over, so what?).

Approach the faith from the wrong angle and be not surprised with dissatisfaction.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 22, 2019, 01:40:27 AM
Kreuzritter,

This is about what you've just said to Daniel, but also other things you've said in the past. 

Perhaps I misunderstand you, but I sometimes get the idea that you don't think much about reasoning about morality and "understanding the rules". Or are you only saying that DANIEL (and others like him) wrongly focus on these things as though they were the most important thing, or even all that mattered?

...
... loving God and neighbour out of vital necessity by the divinity dwelling within and ones ever-deepening union with it.

I absolutely agree that (if this corresponds roughly to what you are saying) goodness comes from love, which can come supernaturally only because of God dwelling within us, united to us by love.  If we love God "with our whole heart, whole soul, whole mind, and whole strength" we will love God and neighbor; more so as our love deepens.

Quote from: Kreuzritter
You're always thinking in terms of obedience demanded by authority, lists of rules, and the knowledge of the intellect. This is Satanism, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Law that cannot save.

So you are just saying that thinking EXCLUSIVELY of these things, or leaving out Charity (union of love with God) is Satanic?  (This always makes me think of the  cruel Inspector Javert in Les Miserables, always acting in the name of "justice".  Sorry if you've never heard of him!)

Quote from: Kreuzritter
Quote
Nevertheless, God damns people who fail to follow His rules.

God "damns" people who don't have goodness in their heart and refuse to act on the work of the law that is written onto it; because that's what damnation is. This is why there's no such thing as "ingorance" of what is moral, "ignorance" of what the good "demands"; because people know the nature of their actions, and they choose those which are after their heart.

God's rules include the 10 commandments (deriving from the two great commandments), and Christ says "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Keeping the 10 commandments only materially (without love) can break them, because we are meant to follow the spirit of the law (and must follow the 2 great commandments, love of God and neighbor). Not following God's rules (mortal sin) MEANS that you don't have goodness in your heart.

People are never excused from following the natural law written into their heart; it is never entirely erased.  But it is dirtied, hushed, blurred, ignored.  SIN itself makes it easier to break the natural law in the future.  Original sin brought concupiscence and ignorance to us, so our passions rise up against the natural law and our intellect ignores or is confused about it.

God wrote the natural law on our hearts; but then He ALSO saw fit to give us His laws written on two tablets. I speculate that that would not have been necessary had Adam and Eve not sinned.  Perhaps God would only have needed to give them His "positive" law explicitly e.g. "of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat" (Genesis 2:17).

Given our weakened intellect and the EFFECTS of original sin and past personal sin in us, what ought to be obvious (e.g. that contraception is immoral) is not (even if that is our own fault).  Having the 10 commandments and the Catholic Church (and the study of moral law) explicitly point out and explain what is wrong forces our minds to "pay attention" and recognize and admit the evil it should have already seen. 

The natural law written on our hearts OUGHT TO BE ENOUGH.  But God saw that BY OUR FAULT it would not be.  In His mercy he gave us the 10 Commandments and the Church (and even its theologians and philosophers) to make it more clear. Christ Himself made explicit and explained things even if they were in the natural law already.

And there are positive laws, such as the laws of the Church.  We owe God OBEDIENCE, because He is God, even if a law is not "on our heart". True obedience IS love, not done only out of fear.

The study of moral theology and natural law also focus on the "objective good", which is not explicitly covered by the "divinity dwelling within and ones ever-deepening union with it". God's commands tell US (subjects) to do some objective good.  We could focus only on the subject, and find true union with God and love, what finally matters. But God commands us to do some specific, concrete, good-in-itself thing. Love of God requires us to care about, and so to think about, that objective thing. Natural law and moral theology consider the objective good.  If the objective good is unknown or misunderstood, the subject can still be holy if his intention is holy and his ignorance is blameless.  But the intent of the subject must be to do the objective thing that God had in mind (without that intent there is no love). I think we need to use our intellects to study these things.

Of course a steady diet of considering rules and objective truth is not enough; we need to emphasize love and spiritual things more than we do.

Could you comment?

ETA: Having said all that, I agree with you (and others) that people (e.g. Daniel) can sometimes get hung up on intellectualizing and fail to act as a simple Catholic out of love for God based on what they do know already. I just don't think the study of natural law and moral theology should be pooh poohed in general. It can affect the teachings/explanations of the Church which do matter to every Catholic, and can help fight philosophers whose ideas filter down into society at large, even if not immediately impacting any given individual.  And it is a GOOD THING to understand morality (which is from God) better,  even if it does not impact our current lives.  It is GOOD but if done to excess can tire and confuse our minds, and interfere with our "duties of state" (e.g. caring for our families).
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 22, 2019, 03:15:23 AM
Quote from: Pon
Although I still think Pascal saw the problem with exceptional clarity, I can see why you disagree with his proposed resolution.  He took far too much for granted.

As you probably know, dear Pon, what is called "Pascal's wager" is in reality only a small part of his Pensees. I think Pascal was a very good scientist, mathematician, philosopher and theologian on the whole, though I don't necessarily agree with each and everything he wrote; here is the part that deals with has been called his Wager, "We know that there is an infinite, but are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it must therefore be true that there is an infinity in number, but what this is we know not. It can neither be odd nor even, for the addition of an unit can make no change in the nature of number; yet it is a number, and every number is either odd or even, at least this is understood of every finite number. Thus we may well know that there is a God, without knowing what he is ... Since there is an equal chance of gain and loss, if you had only to gain two lives for one, you might still wager. But were there three of them to gain, you would have to play, since needs must that you play, and you would be imprudent, since you must play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where the chances of loss or gain are even. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And that being so, were there an infinity of chances of which one only would be for you, you would still be right to stake one to win two, and you would act foolishly, being obliged to play, did you refuse to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there be one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to win. But there is here an infinity [98] of an infinitely happy life to win, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite; that is decided. Wherever the infinite exists and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no room for hesitation, you must risk the whole." https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/pascal-the-thoughts-of-blaise-pascal

Pascal uses an argument of the form derived from the mathematical concept of expected value, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expected_value a simple idea. Suppose someone offers $10 in a coin toss for every time you land a head, and you pay nothing if you land a tail. Here, the expected value from the experiment is $5 (=0.5*10+0.5*0). In practice, nobody would offer that, and expected value would be set to zero. E.g. you pay $10 if its heads, you receive 10 if its tails etc. Pascal argues, and this much is agreed by almost everyone (math textbooks would say the same on what rational actors would do), that in such a case, everyone should go forward and toss the coin, because given the stakes, there is a fairly assured probability of return (or, in this case, a certain payoff), and a very unlikely probability (or in this case, nil probability) of loss. He then argues that the promised gain here is infinite, namely eternal life, and is therefore worth risking a lot etc.

Some critics point out that it assumes the likelihood of God and Heaven existing is equal to it not existing etc. Strictly speaking, it does not assume that. Others say it would be useful only if deciding between Christianity and atheism were the only two alternatives. That is a better objection. So personally, I prefer the Thomistic Ways that show us God's Nature and Attributes to that of Blaise Pascal. Some of the other things in the link are quite good, though, particularly the section on prophesies.

I would prefer, Pon, to proceed as St. Thomas and also some of the early Fathers like St. Justin and St. Hilary, converts from paganism both, did in coming to the knowledge of God. (1) Reason establishes clearly that there is One Supreme God, the Eternal Being. (2) But only the God of one religion has consistently and from the beginning taught the whole world that He is One, namely the God Who revealed Himself to the Patriarchs and Prophets, Who even described Himself as HE WHO IS, i.e. as the Sole Being Who has Existence in Himself, upon Whom all other beings depend. (3) So, it is reasonable to believe This God is the One True God. The Church has always professed, Credo in Unum Deum. It was the first Commandment of the God of Israel. Hence, these holy Fathers justly saw that all of pagan polytheism, with its many claimed competing gods, could not be the One True God. An avalanche of conversions from paganism to Christianity during this time was the result, by God's Grace.

Your thoughts, Pon, on why the holy Fathers were mistaken (?) in approaching it in that manner? I think it's a mistake to allow the multiplicity of religions in the world to allow us to become Agnostic, though sometimes that's what comparative religions courses in some modern settings do. The right way is the traditional approach (1) to come from paganism to Monotheism through (especially Thomistic) philosophy; (2) to come from Judaism to Christianity, through the Messianic prophesies etc.

If it is objected that this still leaves Judaism and Islam, as they also profess to worship the God of Abraham, beside Christianity, well you yourself, Pon, said it is quite simple really to decide between Christianity and Islam, on account of the vast difference in the lives of the Founder of Christianity, and the promulgator of Islamism.

Another way imho, also hinted at in Malachi's prophesy of Sacrifices being offered by the Gentiles from dawn to dusk, is that the offering of Sacrifice is always a mark of true religion, as natural law suggests. And neither Jews nor others offer Sacrifice today, as indeed Mal 1:11 says, while the Catholic Church has always offered it. This book by https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/mass-eucharist/latin-mass-explained-everything-needed-to-understand-and-appreciate-the-traditional-latin-mass.html Msgr. George Moorman quotes Cicero as saying cities without sacrifices were almost unheard of in antiquity. Thus, Sacrifice is an essential part of True Worship.

But more on that in another thread. God bless.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 22, 2019, 04:43:01 AM
To properly game out every last claim by every last religion and alleged oracle of heaven, you would need a supercomputer algorithm and a search engine that could suss out all the world's prophetesses, Messiahs, and cult leaders to the person.  That's the reason why Pascal's Wager fails, not because it's "bullcrap" as you say.  Pascal was incisive and saw the issue clearly, save for a single blinding bias.

Well no, it's not. It is bullcrap. It could only be formulated within an understanding of "religion" that is bullcrap.

Quote
You can lament the movement "from the language of myth and living ritual into that of theology" and of course that's your right.   I don't think you'd get much criticism from Pascal, who placed a premium on mystical conversion over proofs. 

I don't lament it. It's just indicative of a vital change in man in general, but it's not my problem.

Quote
But that ship has sailed and it's not coming back.  Some years ago, I was right where you are. 

No, I don't think you were. I'm not a hoarder of books and armchair pontificator. I've done. I've found. I've beheld. I've had experience after experience that destroyed the conventional understanding of eality I'd been implcitly and explicitly force-fed by the institutions of society and state and shattered my world and my self. Asking me if God, Jesus, spirit, angels, demons, heavens, hells, spheres, aeons, magic, the cosmic powers of myth and my transcendent self are real is like asking me if the morning sunlight streaming through my windows is real. You can call it make-believe, delusion and illusion, but I don't think you or anyone else possesses a criterion of "reality" that would make your position meaningful as anything more than a blind and tendentious clinging to the value of one small corner of existence.

Quote
I have a shelf of books by Mircea Eliade, Julius Evola, René Guénon, &c..  Myth and ritual and transcendence.  Yap, yap.  I don't put much stock in myths anymore.  I think they're nostalgically overrated.  Modern confusion tends us to hype the ancients.  I think in a lot of cases mythology was, no offense, the ongoing work of a succession of ignorant yahoos and mystical goo-goos who wanted people to "pay, pray, and obey," and now it seems profound because it comes to us so foreign.  I'm not saying there aren't exceptions.  But nowadays if I want "the wisdom of the ancients" I'll mainly stick with Seneca or Epicurus.  Speaks a language I can comprehend.  To each their own, of course.

To some. I understand and I believe because I've practised and seen. But, again, not my problem if your own inaction or failures lead you to chalk it up mystical goo-goos playing huckster.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 22, 2019, 05:31:42 AM
Kreuzritter,

This is about what you've just said to Daniel, but also other things you've said in the past. 

Perhaps I misunderstand you, but I sometimes get the idea that you don't think much about reasoning about morality and "understanding the rules". Or are you only saying that DANIEL (and others like him) wrongly focus on these things as though they were the most important thing, or even all that mattered?

I believe I've said it elsewhere. Reason, as regards morality, is a tool for awareness of what one is doing and understanding what its consequences will likely be. I mean that in the sense that a good person will act out of love, but, to give an example, though this disposition would not lead him to harm another person, he may yet harm another person if he doesn't understand that is what he's doing (this is not meant in the sense that one can be "ignorant", e.g., that what murder is is wrong, but that one might not understand that one one is doing is this). But I unequivocally reject, and reject as pagan, the fundamental idea of Western ethics and the proposition that value and "right action" are discoverable through reason in any other sense than the one I just gave.

Quote
So you are just saying that thinking EXCLUSIVELY of these things, or leaving out Charity (union of love with God) is Satanic?  (This always makes me think of the  cruel Inspector Javert in Les Miserables, always acting in the name of "justice".  Sorry if you've never heard of him!)

Somewhat. Moreso, it's a warped Western view that sees God, morality, Heaven and salvation in these terms.

Quote
God's rules include the 10 commandments (deriving from the two great commandments), and Christ says "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Keeping the 10 commandments only materially (without love) can break them, because we are meant to follow the spirit of the law (and must follow the 2 great commandments, love of God and neighbor). Not following God's rules (mortal sin) MEANS that you don't have goodness in your heart.

Sure. The good implies certain right ways of acting which can be forumulated as imperatives. But Moses was founding a state, and a state needs to formulate explicit rules to keep order and enact justice in the face of evil people. The point is, this is not the essence of morality: following the rules of a supreme authority. The essence of the good and moral action is love; loving God with all ones being and loving ones neighbour as oneself.

Quote
People are never excused from following the natural law written into their heart; it is never entirely erased.  But it is dirtied, hushed, blurred, ignored.  SIN itself makes it easier to break the natural law in the future.  Original sin brought concupiscence and ignorance to us, so our passions rise up against the natural law and our intellect ignores or is confused about it.

The work of the law is written on the heart, but the scriptures never mention "natural law", which is through-and-through a Greek and Stoic idea. I've responded to this before.

Quote
God wrote the natural law on our hearts; but then He ALSO saw fit to give us His laws written on two tablets. I speculate that that would not have been necessary had Adam and Eve not sinned.  Perhaps God would only have needed to give them His "positive" law explicitly e.g. "of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat" (Genesis 2:17).

Was it a positive law, verbally announced, as we understand it? I don't know. The text of these chapters of Genesis is not strictly literal. But remember why Eve took it, apparently: the desire to be like God.

Quote
Given our weakened intellect and the EFFECTS of original sin and past personal sin in us, what ought to be obvious (e.g. that contraception is immoral) is not (even if that is our own fault).  Having the 10 commandments and the Catholic Church (and the study of moral law) explicitly point out and explain what is wrong forces our minds to "pay attention" and recognize and admit the evil it should have already seen. 

Sure. Theosis is a long process. Rules are like a ladder.

Quote
And there are positive laws, such as the laws of the Church.  We owe God OBEDIENCE, because He is God, even if a law is not "on our heart". True obedience IS love, not done only out of fear.

Sure, but those law don't need to be. Where they serve the purpose of the Gospel, great; where they become Pharisaic, and people treat them as such, the object is lost. Look at Daniel's reasoning on why the Church "doesn't allow" him to get married. It's horrific.

Quote
The study of moral theology and natural law also focus on the "objective good", which is not explicitly covered by the "divinity dwelling within and ones ever-deepening union with it". God's commands tell US (subjects) to do some objective good.  We could focus only on the subject, and find true union with God and love, what finally matters. But God commands us to do some specific, concrete, good-in-itself thing. Love of God requires us to care about, and so to think about, that objective thing. Natural law and moral theology consider the objective good.  If the objective good is unknown or misunderstood, the subject can still be holy if his intention is holy and his ignorance is blameless.  But the intent of the subject must be to do the objective thing that God had in mind (without that intent there is no love). I think we need to use our intellects to study these things.

If that's meant as I previously spoke, I agree but doubt its expedience when it comes to ethics as an intellectual exercise; if it's meant that man, in absence of God, can through his intellect and applied reason discover "moral truth", I dismiss it.


Quote
ETA: Having said all that, I agree with you (and others) that people (e.g. Daniel) can sometimes get hung up on intellectualizing and fail to act as a simple Catholic out of love for God based on what they do know already. I just don't think the study of natural law and moral theology should be pooh poohed in general. It can affect the teachings/explanations of the Church which do matter to every Catholic, and can help fight philosophers whose ideas filter down into society at large, even if not immediately impacting any given individual.  And it is a GOOD THING to understand morality (which is from God) better,  even if it does not impact our current lives.  It is GOOD but if done to excess can tire and confuse our minds, and interfere with our "duties of state" (e.g. caring for our families).

It's not just that, it's that his vision of God and morality and salvation is diabolical. When I read him I'm struck with the image of a man in a fevered delirium running frantically in circles through a subterranean maze. It's positively neurotic.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 22, 2019, 08:31:09 AM
As you probably know, dear Pon, what is called "Pascal's wager" is in reality only a small part of his Pensees. I think Pascal was a very good scientist, mathematician, philosopher and theologian on the whole, though I don't necessarily agree with each and everything he wrote; here is the part that deals with has been called his Wager, "We know that there is an infinite, but are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it must therefore be true that there is an infinity in number, but what this is we know not. It can neither be odd nor even, for the addition of an unit can make no change in the nature of number; yet it is a number, and every number is either odd or even, at least this is understood of every finite number. Thus we may well know that there is a God, without knowing what he is ... Since there is an equal chance of gain and loss, if you had only to gain two lives for one, you might still wager. But were there three of them to gain, you would have to play, since needs must that you play, and you would be imprudent, since you must play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where the chances of loss or gain are even. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And that being so, were there an infinity of chances of which one only would be for you, you would still be right to stake one to win two, and you would act foolishly, being obliged to play, did you refuse to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there be one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to win. But there is here an infinity [98] of an infinitely happy life to win, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite; that is decided. Wherever the infinite exists and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no room for hesitation, you must risk the whole." https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/pascal-the-thoughts-of-blaise-pascal

Pascal uses an argument of the form derived from the mathematical concept of expected value, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expected_value a simple idea. Suppose someone offers $10 in a coin toss for every time you land a head, and you pay nothing if you land a tail. Here, the expected value from the experiment is $5 (=0.5*10+0.5*0). In practice, nobody would offer that, and expected value would be set to zero. E.g. you pay $10 if its heads, you receive 10 if its tails etc. Pascal argues, and this much is agreed by almost everyone (math textbooks would say the same on what rational actors would do), that in such a case, everyone should go forward and toss the coin, because given the stakes, there is a fairly assured probability of return (or, in this case, a certain payoff), and a very unlikely probability (or in this case, nil probability) of loss. He then argues that the promised gain here is infinite, namely eternal life, and is therefore worth risking a lot etc.

Some critics point out that it assumes the likelihood of God and Heaven existing is equal to it not existing etc. Strictly speaking, it does not assume that. Others say it would be useful only if deciding between Christianity and atheism were the only two alternatives. That is a better objection. So personally, I prefer the Thomistic Ways that show us God's Nature and Attributes to that of Blaise Pascal. Some of the other things in the link are quite good, though, particularly the section on prophesies.

Gracias, Xavier.  Thank you for the elucidation on Pascal's Wager.  We agree: the best objection to it is that "it would be useful only if deciding between Christianity and atheism were the only two alternatives."  That was originally how I understood Daniel's dilemma, and that's why I (mistakenly) argued for the wager earlier.  I'm just surprised that Pascal didn't see the flaw there.  Even though in the Pensées Pascal does argue, as you often do, that things like Scripture and miracles ought to be persuasive, in the portion concerning the wager he seems to be putting that aside and starting from zero, so to speak: God exists or does not. 

Yet in assuming that God's existence necessitates an eternal reward, he takes too great a leap.  Starting from zero, it seems it ought to be framed as: either God does not exist or any god might exist.  From there the discussion could proceed to apologetics in order to establish which god one ought to believe in, but in that case it was pointless to start from zero.  Properly considered, the wager supports agnosticism.  It isn't 50/50 with a high expected gain.  It's one in the number of religions proposing afterlives (or even an infinite number of religions that haven't been revealed yet—dawn has not yet come and we're all primitives living in spiritual darkness).  In which case hedonism in this life is the surer bet against a lottery of afterlife happiness.  To be fair, this is my objection to Pascal and not Daniel's.  Interestingly, Daniel disagrees with Pascal for prizing happiness over truth.  Daniel would sooner suffer for truth than wager on happiness.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 22, 2019, 09:14:52 AM
Quote
But that ship has sailed and it's not coming back.  Some years ago, I was right where you are. 

No, I don't think you were. I'm not a hoarder of books and armchair pontificator. I've done. I've found. I've beheld. I've had experience after experience that destroyed the conventional understanding of eality I'd been implcitly and explicitly force-fed by the institutions of society and state and shattered my world and my self. Asking me if God, Jesus, spirit, angels, demons, heavens, hells, spheres, aeons, magic, the cosmic powers of myth and my transcendent self are real is like asking me if the morning sunlight streaming through my windows is real. You can call it make-believe, delusion and illusion, but I don't think you or anyone else possesses a criterion of "reality" that would make your position meaningful as anything more than a blind and tendentious clinging to the value of one small corner of existence.

Apologies, Kreuzritter.  I didn't mean to imply that you were bookish like I am.  I only meant that we shared an interest in the primacy of myth, ritual, and transcendence.  I haven't "done, found, and beheld" though.  I did have mystical experiences myself, however, when I was young.  But they contained no theological content.  If pressed, I would say they came closest in description to something like satori.  In terms of whether a particular god exists, they told me zilch.  Maybe the irreducible divinity at the bottom of all space and time wanted to say something to me and I wasn't fit to receive the message, but something sure came through.  Or maybe mystery was the message.  Or maybe the chemicals in my brain provided me with an experience of profundity.  I do not know. 

I'll disagree with you that Pascal had an understanding of religion which was bullcrap.  He was a Jansenist.  "GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob—not of the philosophers and of the learned."  The piety and commitment of the Jansenists was lived, not declared, and my criteria is "by their fruits you will know them," so I rate them highly.  Anyone can declare, from the unkempt preacher on the street corner with his placards and microphone to the clean-cut Mormon boys on the doorstep.  They all claim certainty.  I'd rather be shown than declared to.  "Come and see." 

Which is nothing against declared certainty, mind you.  If you are as certain of the cosmic powers of myth and your transcendent self as you are the morning sunlight streaming through your windows, then I respect that.  A faith that one could not be certain of would be a faith with a potential for falsehood, and what kind of god would impart a faith that is potentially false?  A trickster, perhaps.  But the teaching is "ye shall know the truth," not "you can be reasonably certain you know the truth, but there's a chance you may not."  No.  Certainty seems required.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 22, 2019, 10:39:31 AM
But the teaching is "ye shall know the truth," not "you can be reasonably certain you know the truth, but there's a chance you may not."  No.  Certainty seems required.

Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

If you do X, then Y (and then Z).

Love God with all your heart, and then you will know the truth.  Of course if one never comes to know the truth then its a bit true-scotsman, but such is life.  Restating what I noted before, be a good friend and then know what a good friend is.

I note that you state you had mystical experiences but then introduce some doubt as offering the possibility that it was merely chemicals in your brain.  Even things happening to us personally can be doubted, if we want to doubt them.

Does this verse exclude the interpretation that the truth is known (with this certainty you all demand) only in the beatific vision?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: St. Columba on February 22, 2019, 03:04:29 PM
We do not require it of anything else we do in our lives, we did not require it when we chose our spouses, picked our careers, decided where to live.  But now we require it of faith?

Hi Davis Blank...it is a pleasure to interact with you friend...

I am curious how you would answer the following question: if your Catholic faith is not absolutely certain, then why is it a sin to doubt it?

...anticipating one possible answer, "well, because God has revealed it and therefore to doubt is sinful" is begging the question, of course.

I am not asking in order to be contentious...I would just like a satisfactory answer, since I am more or less stumped on it myself...
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 22, 2019, 07:24:20 PM
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

If you do X, then Y (and then Z).

Love God with all your heart, and then you will know the truth.  Of course if one never comes to know the truth then its a bit true-scotsman, but such is life.  Restating what I noted before, be a good friend and then know what a good friend is.

Does this verse exclude the interpretation that the truth is known (with this certainty you all demand) only in the beatific vision?

No, I don't think it excludes that interpretation at all.  But doesn't that only push the problem back a step?  If there is a promise that the truth will be known in the afterlife, then still it seems that the faithful must able to be certain of that promise in this life.  The faith, however minimalist it might be, would have to contain at least a single absolute certainty somewhere upon which all else would depend, otherwise the original problem would persist: that what God has revealed to his creatures is only potentially true—and thereby potentially false.  It would have to be "true that ye shall know the truth."




Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 22, 2019, 10:30:42 PM
I am interested in everyone's comments.

We do not require it of anything else we do in our lives, we did not require it when we chose our spouses, picked our careers, decided where to live.  But now we require it of faith?

Hi Davis Blank...it is a pleasure to interact with you friend...

I am curious how you would answer the following question: if your Catholic faith is not absolutely certain, then why is it a sin to doubt it?

...anticipating one possible answer, "well, because God has revealed it and therefore to doubt is sinful" is begging the question, of course.

I am not asking in order to be contentious...I would just like a satisfactory answer, since I am more or less stumped on it myself...

Faith involves both the will and the intellect.  The will (with GRACE, which requires PRAYER) can assent (will to think) to what is taught, even if there ISN'T absolute certainty in the first place. You PRAY that you assent only to what is true.  (Sorry for the uppercase  if anyone minds).

I think the certainty you get by faith is not as absolute as some want to have, because you can have difficulties.  "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief". If you call this certainty "relative certainty", then I think (strong) faith makes you satisfied with this relative certainty (and the relative certainty that you have that you WILL have absolute certainty in the beatific vision). By definition faith is NOT SIGHT, so it doesn't have the certainty of sight. You lean on Christ, who is Truth, and trust God (doesn't mean absolute knowledge) that He lead you to Christ's church, and you commit to what is taught (the assent of faith): breaking that commitment is sin. (Of course there is human effort involved in studying the motives of credibility, but finally you need to pray to get that  faith that only God can give)

(In a sense I suppose that you only have relative certainty that  you existed a minute ago but it is satisfying certainty (unless you are Daniel), and you are wrong to deny it.  If it is right to say you have relative certainty of things taught by faith, faith makes that certainty satisfying (depending on the strength of your faith), and if you disbelieve or deliberately entertain doubts, you are breaking your commitment. In heaven all such relative certainties will be absolute) 

Perhaps more perfect faith would mean you don't have to say "help my unbelief". But if you have some lack of absolute certainty,  it makes no sense to say "now I shouldn't (or don't) believe at all"!

Here is a quote from a previous post of mine:

...
Believing Catholics are like the Apostles who heard Christ say " "Except you eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.".  They do not understand what he is saying (think how much of more of a shock it was for them hearing it for the first time, unlike us).  But they do not walk away like some disciples, saying "This saying is hard, and who can hear it?". Instead, Simon Peter speaks for them "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. [70] And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.". Catholics should believe the same thing about the Catholic Church.

Next, here is a quote from someone who is not a traditionalist or scholar but rather a popular Catholic priest on youtube; he quotes the CCC.  I'd be glad to hear any criticism anyone reading this has of what he has to say:

Quote from: Struggling to Believe is Not the Same Thing as Doubting

Fr. Mike Schmitz
https://bulldogcatholic.org/in-your-last-column-you-said-you-believe-everything-the-church-teaches-what-if-i-struggle-with-believing-where-does-that-put-me/

Q: In your last column, you said you believe everything the Church teaches. What if I struggle with believing? Where does that put me?

A: We are sometimes under the impression that believing or having faith means that we simply accept a teaching or the situations of our lives with no questions. If that is the case, then I need to clarify what I mean by having faith. It certainly does mean assenting to all of the truths of the Catholic Church, but it does not necessarily mean the absence of struggling with belief.

We know that faith is not mere belief. Faith is when we submit our intellect and will to God, who has revealed himself to us through Scripture and tradition. It involves both our minds and our lives. Because of this, faith is not the absence of a struggle. The life of faith is by its very nature a battle to place our entire selves under Christ’s lordship. If you struggle to do this, it is not failure, it is engaging the call.

The great figures of the Old and New Testaments demonstrate that faith involves struggle. Think of Abraham struggling to walk in faith as he is called from his homeland. Consider the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel through the night. (As a result of his struggle, he is rewarded with the new name Israel.) Even Jesus, in a mysterious way, struggled when faced with doing his Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. Think of the great saints who asked the deepest and most difficult questions about the existence and nature of God, suffering and salvation.

The difference between these examples and someone who rejects God is the difference between having doubts and having difficulties. Not only are doubts and difficulties not the same thing, they are not even the same kind of thing. Doubt is a decision. A difficulty is a dilemma.

Every sin is essentially a decision. No one sins accidentally. A sin is not a mistake. Sin is essentially about relationship. It involves knowing what God wants and refusing to obey God in love. It isn’t an error; it is saying “no.”

Sin looks like this: “God, I know what you want me to do. I don’t care. I want to do what I want to do.”

Therefore, when it comes to doubt, this also involves full knowledge and full consent of the will. It is saying, “I know what the Church teaches, and I know why the Church teaches this. I refuse to submit to it.”

That may be you. You may find yourself in rebellion against God or against the Church. But it may be that you have difficulties with belief. Many times, we think that we are doubting when we are actually merely struggling to understand or to live up to our call to be holy.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls this struggle “involuntary doubt.” It refers to “hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity” (CCC 2088). This is vastly different from “voluntary doubt,” which “disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief.”

The difference between difficulties and doubts is so profound that Blessed John Henry Newman once stated that “10,000 difficulties do not make one doubt.”

And yet, we have to be a person who is not content with difficulties or anxieties. We may say things like “I struggle with some teachings of the Church” with a sly look in our eyes. That contentedness with difficulty is neither noble nor harmless. It is one thing to struggle to know and love God and something quite else to have “difficulties” and not care to resolve them. That attitude can often lead to a spiritual blindness and an inability to hear God when He speaks. There is very little that God can do with the cool and indifferent.

Even if people have a difficult time with faith, if they struggle to seek after and follow God, they are light years ahead of one who does not believe and does not care. If we seek, knock and ask, we have Jesus’ word: We will find.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 22, 2019, 10:43:42 PM
We do not require it of anything else we do in our lives, we did not require it when we chose our spouses, picked our careers, decided where to live.  But now we require it of faith?

Hi Davis Blank...it is a pleasure to interact with you friend...

I am curious how you would answer the following question: if your Catholic faith is not absolutely certain, then why is it a sin to doubt it?

...anticipating one possible answer, "well, because God has revealed it and therefore to doubt is sinful" is begging the question, of course.

I am not asking in order to be contentious...I would just like a satisfactory answer, since I am more or less stumped on it myself...

Greetings Sir,

I guess I would first wonder what do we mean when we say certain.  I am certain that 2+2=4 for it could not possibly be anything but 4.  I am not in the same sense certain that my wife loves me, but I am certain that she does.  However, I imagine that with enough skepticism and a cynical enough eye I could begin to doubt her love for me.

Likewise, I am certain that Jesus will keep His promises.  As my wife has provided enough evidence to me that she loves me, Jesus too has provided enough for me to be certain of Him.  Again, I could introduce overabundant skepticism into my life and begin to doubt my wife, but that would be an injustice against her, for she has done nothing to warrant such extreme doubt.  I will leave it up to you to extrapolate to our relationship with God.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 22, 2019, 10:50:18 PM
No, I don't think it excludes that interpretation at all.  But doesn't that only push the problem back a step?  If there is a promise that the truth will be known in the afterlife, then still it seems that the faithful must able to be certain of that promise in this life.  The faith, however minimalist it might be, would have to contain at least a single absolute certainty somewhere upon which all else would depend, otherwise the original problem would persist: that what God has revealed to his creatures is only potentially true—and thereby potentially false.  It would have to be "true that ye shall know the truth."

I do not follow.  Hypothetically, if Jesus makes a promise of certainty in the afterlife, why does it thus entail that He also provides certainty in this life?  If He promises it only in Y, then why must it also be in X?

I would also ask the same question I just posed our friend.  What do we mean by certain?  What does this certainty you seek look and feel like?  Does it come in the form of a mathematical proof, a contract written in blood, an over abundance of evidence, a very strong emotion, or what?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 23, 2019, 06:26:30 AM
Or maybe the chemicals in my brain provided me with an experience of profundity.  I do not know.

And I don't know what that means. It's a way of speaking I was "taught" by society but which I found to be totally vacuous once I began to look beneath the language. Epiphenomena. Phenomena being ontologically "caused" by abstract theoretical objects. Things not being what they are but "really" something else. The devaluation of the senses in favour of an invisible "objective" world. The dismissal of dreams, visions and mysticla experience as "all in the mind", or worse "in the brain". In its most crass physicalist form: colours are "really" wave packets of photons, sounds are "really" vibrating physical particles, love is "really" a chemical reaction, all experiences are "really" brain states; a so-called "materialism" which actually denies the reality of matter and replaces it with the mathematical noumena of atomistic physics. But most metaphysical systems do the same. Where the Presocratic hylozoists were, like the philosophers of the Upanishads, characterising intuited natures by analogy of being, the later metaphysicians attempt to replace reality with a system of thought that magically "causes" it to be, the meanining of that never being explained. It's a load of nonsensical bunkum, and once you've thrown it out, the world begins to open up.

Quote
I'll disagree with you that Pascal had an understanding of religion which was bullcrap.  He was a Jansenist.  "GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob—not of the philosophers and of the learned."  The piety and commitment of the Jansenists was lived, not declared, and my criteria is "by their fruits you will know them," so I rate them highly.

Calvin could have said as much and the Puritans done as much. Fastidious. Prayerful. Living their beliefs. That doesn't change that their beliefs were messed up. It's like a reaction against over-theologising but misconstrued. Like the Puritans, they rejected a perceived formal and "dead" faith of rituala nd theology, but they put in its place a practical piety and political action. They're thoroughly exocteric, even in their "spirituality". Hence their emphasis on moral rigorism, their love of miracles, their iconoclasm-lite, their distaste for Marian devotion. Because Mary, embodiment of Wisdom and paragon of theosis, is so essential to mysticism. It's also funny how people so anti-Pelagian in word were so Pelagian in practice.

Quote
Anyone can declare, from the unkempt preacher on the street corner with his placards and microphone to the clean-cut Mormon boys on the doorstep.  They all claim certainty.  I'd rather be shown than declared to.  "Come and see." 

That's a fair point. But I'm not preaching. I'm not asking anyone to believe me. I'm just stating my own case. At most I'm saying if you allow and hope for the possibility, you could try this and this. Or don't.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 23, 2019, 06:36:58 AM
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

If you do X, then Y (and then Z).

Love God with all your heart, and then you will know the truth.  Of course if one never comes to know the truth then its a bit true-scotsman, but such is life.  Restating what I noted before, be a good friend and then know what a good friend is.

Does this verse exclude the interpretation that the truth is known (with this certainty you all demand) only in the beatific vision?

No, I don't think it excludes that interpretation at all.  But doesn't that only push the problem back a step?  If there is a promise that the truth will be known in the afterlife, then still it seems that the faithful must able to be certain of that promise in this life.  The faith, however minimalist it might be, would have to contain at least a single absolute certainty somewhere upon which all else would depend, otherwise the original problem would persist: that what God has revealed to his creatures is only potentially true—and thereby potentially false.  It would have to be "true that ye shall know the truth."

There's a distinction between the phenomenon of knowing and an epistemological justification of an alleged truth by reason. And ther experience of knowing something can be distinct from the experience of the object of knowledge.

Anyway, I have absolute certainity of my self, by immediate experience and reason, of God, by experience and reason, and of Jesus, by experience; I have the experience of knowing these things. I have no doubt regadrign them.  Knowing Jesus and his nature, I have faith in him, that he will not lead me astray, a trust confirmed in my sacramental experience. Believing that, I have faith in the Catholic Church into which I trust I've been led by him.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 23, 2019, 08:38:26 AM
I do not follow.  Hypothetically, if Jesus makes a promise of certainty in the afterlife, why does it thus entail that He also provides certainty in this life?  If He promises it only in Y, then why must it also be in X?

I may not've formulated it well.  But you had offered that the truth being spoken of in John 8:32 was the Beatific Vision.  That would entail something like a "fullness of truth."  In order for the promise to have been divinely issued, however, there would have to be at least one kernel of truth that could be known here on earth: the promise itself would have to be absolutely true.  One truth now, every truth later.  Otherwise it would be no better than a promise any mortal human could make, and in that case I'm not sure how we can say Christianity has been revealed by God.  It could've been revealed by a person claiming to be God.  As I understand it, this is why it's said, in Catholicism, of things like paradoxes and theological mysteries that we won't ever understand them unless and until we make it to heaven.  But in terms of what we can know, things like the dogmas of the faith can be known with certainty.  That much is implicit in the claim that whatever the Church solemnly teaches, she teaches infallibly.

I would also ask the same question I just posed our friend.  What do we mean by certain?  What does this certainty you seek look and feel like?  Does it come in the form of a mathematical proof, a contract written in blood, an over abundance of evidence, a very strong emotion, or what?

In terms of being absolutely certain of the faith, Davis, I am not sure.  I wish I could answer you here, but since I've never had absolute certainty of the faith, I can't imagine quite what form it would come in.  The only thing I have absolute certainty of is my own consciousness, but I can't even say what that "looks and feels like," since consciousness is the thing that looks and feels.  It's an interesting question, though.  QMR and, as far as I read him, our friend Kreuzritter, have absolute certainty so maybe they can offer a description.  Then again, they both aver mystical perception, so there might be a quality of "beyond telling" that gets lost in translation, as would be expected of divine communication. 

I think the divine communication aspect is where we have our disagreement.  Take the analogy you gave of your wife.  You have certainty that your wife loves you.  However, if you were an 82-yr-old billionaire and your wife was a 21-yr-old Playboy model, I would have to wonder whether your certainty was justified.  Obviously that's an extreme example, but you take my point.  Beyond the superficial, it's more difficult to know.  What I don't think we can say is that the Catholic faith is akin to the love of a spouse.  It seems there would be a certain heresy, outside of romantic poetry perhaps, to suppose that a wife communicates her love infallibly.  There have been husbands certain of their wives' love where the marriage one day ended with her leaving.  "I'm sorry, Jimmy, but I don't love you.  I don't know if I ever did.  I guess I  thought I did, but I don't."  That's just a factual circumstance in life.  And there have also been many excellent wives who loved unto the death, and that is a beautiful thing.  But we can't say that the Church's professions are subject to even the possibility of deceit—which is necessarily a possibility in the human realm (the Blessed Virgin Mary excepted, of course, being sinless).


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 24, 2019, 09:39:11 PM
I may not've formulated it well.  But you had offered that the truth being spoken of in John 8:32 was the Beatific Vision.  That would entail something like a "fullness of truth."  In order for the promise to have been divinely issued, however, there would have to be at least one kernel of truth that could be known here on earth: the promise itself would have to be absolutely true.  One truth now, every truth later.  Otherwise it would be no better than a promise any mortal human could make, and in that case I'm not sure how we can say Christianity has been revealed by God.  It could've been revealed by a person claiming to be God.  As I understand it, this is why it's said, in Catholicism, of things like paradoxes and theological mysteries that we won't ever understand them unless and until we make it to heaven.  But in terms of what we can know, things like the dogmas of the faith can be known with certainty.  That much is implicit in the claim that whatever the Church solemnly teaches, she teaches infallibly.
A truth can be given and yet not be believed to be true.  Is that the fault of the truth teller or the receiver?  If the former then I again ask in what form such certainty must come.  If people doubt their own personal perceptions then what can possibly be done here by the truth teller to overcome the capability of the receiver to doubt seemingly everything?

I also note that Christ and His Church never claimed that the evidence given is so forceful as to eliminate all doubt.  We are not Calvinists.

Quote
In terms of being absolutely certain of the faith, Davis, I am not sure.  I wish I could answer you here, but since I've never had absolute certainty of the faith, I can't imagine quite what form it would come in.  The only thing I have absolute certainty of is my own consciousness, but I can't even say what that "looks and feels like," since consciousness is the thing that looks and feels.  It's an interesting question, though.  QMR and, as far as I read him, our friend Kreuzritter, have absolute certainty so maybe they can offer a description.  Then again, they both aver mystical perception, so there might be a quality of "beyond telling" that gets lost in translation, as would be expected of divine communication.

If we do not know what it would look like then how do we know we have not had it? 

Quote
I think the divine communication aspect is where we have our disagreement.  Take the analogy you gave of your wife.  You have certainty that your wife loves you.  However, if you were an 82-yr-old billionaire and your wife was a 21-yr-old Playboy model, I would have to wonder whether your certainty was justified.  Obviously that's an extreme example, but you take my point.  Beyond the superficial, it's more difficult to know.  What I don't think we can say is that the Catholic faith is akin to the love of a spouse.  It seems there would be a certain heresy, outside of romantic poetry perhaps, to suppose that a wife communicates her love infallibly.  There have been husbands certain of their wives' love where the marriage one day ended with her leaving.  "I'm sorry, Jimmy, but I don't love you.  I don't know if I ever did.  I guess I  thought I did, but I don't."  That's just a factual circumstance in life.  And there have also been many excellent wives who loved unto the death, and that is a beautiful thing.  But we can't say that the Church's professions are subject to even the possibility of deceit—which is necessarily a possibility in the human realm (the Blessed Virgin Mary excepted, of course, being sinless).

A man can be certain of something and yet still be wrong.  That he was wrong does not negate his certainty.  I do not see a problem here.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 25, 2019, 08:46:14 AM
I've spoken with atheists before about whether or not a personal visitation from Jesus would convince them - unsurprisingly, the answer is usually no.
I probably wouldn't either. Because what good is an apparition if you don't already have faith? Without faith there's no way to know that this Jesus you're seeing is in fact God or a saint, as opposed to a devil, somebody trying to trick you, or even a hallucination.

Quote
You believe, or you do not.  This is not to say that both sides do not have reasonable explanations for their stance, but it is to reject the idea of some absolute provable certainty, this magical 100%-its-true-you-cannot-deny-it-here's-the-proof-read-it-and-weep type argument / evidence.  Searching for this is absolutely futile, its kicking against the goads, Jesus never promised it, the Church never promised it, and you cannot even absolutely refute the ridiculous brain-in-vat hypothesis.  We do not require it of anything else we do in our lives, we did not require it when we chose our spouses, picked our careers, decided where to live.  But now we require it of faith?
There are some major differences between "faith" and the life decisions you've mentioned.
1.) There's no such thing as choosing the "wrong" spouse, the "wrong" career, or the "wrong" place to live. Those things are all relative... some potential spouses/careers/locations might be worse than others, but none are absolutely "wrong". The wrong religion, however, is absolutely wrong.
2.) Ignoring the possibility of scandal and other sins accidental to the choice, choosing the "wrong" spouse/career/location does not in itself offend God in any way whatsoever (as far as I know). But choosing and practicing the wrong religion does offend God (as far as I know).
3.) Nobody claims certainty (in the strict sense) with respect to whether or not he has chosen the correct spouse/career/location. But the Catholic Church demands certainty of us with respect to faith and morals.
4.) If we treat religion like any other life decision, then there's hardly any reason to be Catholic. Because when we choose our wife/career/spouse/location, we examine the subjective evidence and make what we believe to be the best decision. But if we hold religion to the same standard, we end up choosing something like deism, Neoplatonism, pantheism/monism, or even atheism. We don't choose Catholicism which seems messy, seems to contradict the natural sciences, seems to make God into a monster, doesn't really match our personal everyday experiences, and yet nevertheless causes us much suffering in our trying to live up to everything it demands of us (laws which seem to be coming from man rather than from God).


It's not electing to follow God's "rules" because you intellectually acknowledge him as sovereign, which isn't even a logical necessity of that acknowledgment.  Just ask Lucifer. It's loving God and neighbour out of vital necessity by the divinity dwelling within and ones ever-deepening union with it.

You're always thinking in terms of obedience demanded by authority, lists of rules, and the knowledge of the intellect. This is Satanism, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Law that cannot save.
Sorry if I'm just not understanding, or if you've already covered this, but how does this work exactly? Would you agree with my paraphrase?:
Knowledge is irrelevant. Man cannot know right from wrong. So each man ought to do (or, each man is compelled to do?) whatever he desires to do. If his desires are good then he will live a good life, but if his desires are bad then he will live a bad life. Man's natural desires are always bad, so men typically live bad lives offensive to God. But God chooses some people and replaces their bad desires with good desires. Consequently, those men do what they desire to do, and live good lives which are pleasing to God.

Quote
God "damns" people who don't have goodness in their heart and refuse to act on the work of the law that is written onto it; because that's what damnation is. This is why there's no such thing as "ingorance" of what is moral, "ignorance" of what the good "demands"; because people know the nature of their actions, and they choose those which are after their heart.
I'm not sure I follow. What exactly do you mean by "people know the nature of their actions"?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 25, 2019, 09:28:32 AM
A truth can be given and yet not be believed to be true.  Is that the fault of the truth teller or the receiver?  If the former then I again ask in what form such certainty must come.  If people doubt their own personal perceptions then what can possibly be done here by the truth teller to overcome the capability of the receiver to doubt seemingly everything?

But again, asking me what form this certainty would come in is like asking a man blind since birth to describe the contents of a photograph.  I have never had absolute certainty of the faith so I don't know.  I do have absolute certainty of my consciousness, but I can't tell you in what form consciousness comes.  Maybe absolute certainty of the faith would infuse one's entire consciousness—an "in Him we live and move and have our being" kind of perception.  I cannot say from experience. 

If the faith is merely a collection of assertions which we weigh according to our reason, and thus do we gain our respective levels of certainty, then that's okay.  You have assessed the evidence and are certain; I have done the same and am uncertain.  I was originally coming to this from the angle of things like grace and infallibility: if the truth-teller in question here is also the omnipotent creator, then presumably there is no way in which he can fail to provide his creatures of certainty should he desire to.  Possibly he wanted it to be a different way, more like a shell game: the truth is contained in a particular religion just as the ball is under a particular mug, and let the apologists do the convincing.  But in that case we have uncertainty.

A man can be certain of something and yet still be wrong.  That he was wrong does not negate his certainty.  I do not see a problem here.

I agree, so long as we are still talking about a man's certainty of something like his wife's love.  With humans, who are fallible creatures, there is always the possibility of deceit.  If you are saying that a man can be certain of the fact that Jesus Christ is God and potentially be wrong, then I guess we have no disagreement.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 25, 2019, 09:41:09 AM
Quote
I probably wouldn't either. Because what good is an apparition if you don't already have faith? Without faith there's no way to know that this Jesus you're seeing is in fact God or a saint, as opposed to a devil, somebody trying to trick you, or even a hallucination.
And how do you propose to know that your "faith" is not in fact the faith of the devil and he's yet tricked you again?

As I asked Mr. PDR, what does this certainty you seek look like / feel like?

Regarding religion being objectively right or wrong, I believe that to be the case because I believe as the Church teaches, but you do not, so why do you believe that to be so?  Why is this life decision different from choosing a wife?  The deist god certainly doesn't care.  Nor does the atheist vacuum.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 25, 2019, 10:27:38 AM
Quote
if the truth-teller in question here is also the omnipotent creator, then presumably there is no way in which he can fail to provide his creatures of certainty should he desire to.  Possibly he wanted it to be a different way, more like a shell game: the truth is contained in a particular religion just as the ball is under a particular mug, and let the apologists do the convincing.  But in that case we have uncertainty.

Yes, I am taking the truth-teller as Christ.  Given as the way this has all gone down, what with Christ walking the Earth for only 33 years, His ministry being only a fraction of that, I think its clear that what He is providing us vis-a-vis certainty is not the certainty you seek.  The faith comes from Him but He does it through the people whom comprise His Body.  The faith is not such like a robot being activated by a command code, where a foreign good hearted man is given the faith, then hears the words from a missionary's mouth "Christ is God" and then click-whirr the gears of his robot spirit spin into belief.  He's going to require convincing of some degree - some more than others, but every single person requires some amount of it.

The convincing comes in a variety of forms.  Christ performed miracles to convince those lucky to walk with Him.  He works miracles through saints once in awhile to show He's still got it, which convinces some of the truths the Church speaks.  Yet others are convinced by seeing the good works of a Christian, or the beauty the Church has brought forth.  Still others are convinced by mystical visitations, or deep personal relations with Christ.  Point is, we're all being convinced by something - the faith is not such that Christ gives it to us, and then like good little robots, we believe with undying certainty.  Calvinists might disagree.

I am certain that my wife loves me.  But when she snaps a cold word at me and glares I might, for a time, begin to doubt.  But that is wrong of me to do.  For she has a thousand times a thousand shown me her love, and this moment in which emotions got the better of her, is not indicative of the lack of love.  Similarly, I am certain that reality is as I sense it.  And yet once in a blue moon I get in a mood, in the right place walking the right path in the right lighting, and I get this fleeting thought that none of this is real.  Am I uncertain, should I feed this doubt?  I'd say that I am certain despite this silly doubt, and that I should not feed into this doubt, as I suspect I could let it run wild.

That's the way we humans are.  It's a part of our fallen nature.  We can believe whatever it is we want, no matter how whacky.  It's also why logical discussions go no where (yet I continue in vain), because we can make our logic support whatever it is we want.  We can doubt whatever it is we want.  I can, if I let myself, truly doubt reality.  Our friend Daniel has agreed he'd doubt Christ even after a personal visitation.

This certainty we are speaking of is not iron-clad from all doubt.  If Jesus wanted to give such certainty He'd be walking next to us 24/7 bopping us over the head with His sandals each time we erred.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 25, 2019, 10:30:32 AM
Quote from: Pon
Even though in the Pensées Pascal does argue, as you often do, that things like Scripture and miracles ought to be persuasive, in the portion concerning the wager he seems to be putting that aside

1. Hi Pon. Let's forget about the wager for a minute. Would you like to address some of the other issues. Philosophy shows there is One God. But only 3 religions in the world teach God is One. (Even if we randomly began by assuming that about any of the 9 odd major religions in the world, plus agnosticism if you want, had equal a priori probability of abouy 10%, this consideration would show the modified posterior probability is now either 25% or 33% for one of these 3 or 4 if you wish being true). Indeed, only the God of Abraham and Moses has consistently done so from the beginning until now, even before reason had solidly proved it. Therefore, this God is quite likely the True God.

2. Next, offering sacrifices to the Divinity is a clear mark of true religion, as even Roman statesmen and Greek philosophers knew and admitted. But of the remaining 3 or 4, only Christianity and the Catholic Church in particular has always and everywhere offered a pure Sacrifice to God, perfectly fulfilling Mal 1:11, an astonishingly difficult prophesy to fulfil by Her Perpetual Offering of the Sacrifice of the Clean Oblation of the Mass. These two considerations alone, though there are several others (Messianic Prophesies, Evidence for the Resurrection, Eucharistic Miracles, Incorruptible bodies of the Saints, the marvels of the divine Mother especially at Gaudalupe abolishing infanticide, at Lourdes, Fatima, Quito, Velankanni, and too many other places to name - She is Truly Our Lady of all nations) should suffice for all sincere inquirers to come to at least 90+% certainty, if not 99%+ that Christianity is true.

3. Now, if we come back to the wager: there's a 90+% likelihood at least that eternal life, this infinite good, with all the wonderful happiness it causes (even in this present life, when we contemplate it, as the beatitudes teach, and Christian experience suggests) is real and certain. On the other hand, there's a vanishingly low unlikely case that all religions are wrong and that all these things were mere coincidences. This gives us no assurance, no certainty, no likelihood of reward, no penalty of loss. If anyone wanted to apply the wager, it would apply now.

I don't feel a need for the wager. Jesus showed He is God because, after His public foretold sacrificial death as the Paschal Lamb under Pontius Pilate, He rose from the dead with His tomb empty - a reality known through its visible effects in the lives of the Apostles and on all subsequent history, which can only be explained by the Risen Christ. These are called external motives of credibility of the divine testimony, Pon, and are accessible to any inquirer or student of history. Once a person comes to Christ, he is assisted by the Holy Ghost in such a way that he receives the supernatural gift of enlightenment called divine faith. And as a person begins to live and practice the Faith, for e.g. in Eucharistic Adoration or in Holy Mass or Holy Communion, when he receives Christ reverently and lovingly, he will come to know also by internal spiritual experience (not speaking of the extraordinary here, but of the regular practice of a Christian life) that God has come to him. Thus, he will grow in faith and in supernatural life by practicing it.

One final consideration and question: imagine if we applied extreme agnosticism in the courtroom. "We have no way of knowing if the accused is guilty or not, per agnosticism, therefore every convict should be set free, and no one could be imprisoned". Would anyone do that? Clearly, there comes a point where we rely on moral certainty or safe to act upon certainty beyond reasonable doubt, make the decision and move on. So we must make a decision for or against the Risen Christ.

He has promised His Light and His Grace to all who seek and ask. God bless.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 25, 2019, 11:28:23 AM
I probably don't need as much convincing as it might seem, Xavier, in order to be persuaded that Christianity is the most likely of the theistic religions on offer.  But seeing as how Vatican II happened, I find Eastern Orthodoxy (should a form of Christianity be true) the more palatable form over Catholicism.  Vatican II is, to take Davis' analogy a step further, like finding your wife in bed with another man.  What is Catholicism anymore?  It is nothing but confusion.  What is the proper interpretation of EENS?  Or predestination?  Some traditional Catholics say saints might be in hell and Fatima is a demonic hoax.  Novus Ordo theologians ponder the "Eucharistic" quality of gay sex (https://www.suscipedomine.com/forum/index.php?topic=12395.msg268797#msg268797).  If I wanted to know what Catholicism consists of, I would get a different answer from Catholic to Catholic.  Pope Francis is presumably the ultimate arbiter in all this, but does anyone want that crackpot having the final say?  The definition of "indefectible" has been changed to "able to defect, but simultaneously never to defect according to a promise."  One must either reconsider that promise or go in for a perverse fideism.

Not that the Orthodox don't have plenty of confusion themselves, just considerably less is all.  Even were I to accept Orthodoxy, however, I would always be picked up by a tsunami of doubt and tossed squarely back to agnosticism whenever I consider the problems of evolution and theodicy.  I am aware of the miracles.  All I can say is that the amount of reasonable doubt I have from evolution and theodicy is more than sufficient to overcome the miracle claims.  Hume's approach in his essay Of Miracles (https://www.bartleby.com/37/3/14.html) is sound.  It would require a separate thread, but if you think evolution and the problem of suffering can be swiftly overcome, then we might have it out there.  I predict that the pages will go into the double digits and no one will change their mind.  I would become an Orthodox Christian if, miracle of miracles, Vladimir Putin successfully invaded the United States and established Russian Orthodoxy as the state religion.  Privately I would remain agnostic, but I would more or less behave myself and not be an outright scoffer.  Attending the liturgy in a wood-hewn Russian Orthodox chapel with a bearded priest incensing the ikons would be a nice fit in these rural pinelands.  The ugly modern Protestant churches dotting the landscape around here are eyesores, and with the bishop's permission I would be content to destroy them.  I would be like that Early Church saint who went around burning down the pagan temples.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 25, 2019, 11:58:54 AM
It's not electing to follow God's "rules" because you intellectually acknowledge him as sovereign, which isn't even a logical necessity of that acknowledgment.  Just ask Lucifer. It's loving God and neighbour out of vital necessity by the divinity dwelling within and ones ever-deepening union with it.

You're always thinking in terms of obedience demanded by authority, lists of rules, and the knowledge of the intellect. This is Satanism, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Law that cannot save.
Sorry if I'm just not understanding, or if you've already covered this, but how does this work exactly? Would you agree with my paraphrase?:
Knowledge is irrelevant. Man cannot know right from wrong. So each man ought to do (or, each man is compelled to do?) whatever he desires to do. If his desires are good then he will live a good life, but if his desires are bad then he will live a bad life. Man's natural desires are always bad, so men typically live bad lives offensive to God. But God chooses some people and replaces their bad desires with good desires. Consequently, those men do what they desire to do, and live good lives which are pleasing to God.

No. No on every count.

Quote
Knowledge is irrelevant.

No. I'm distinguishing betweent he immediate knowledge of the heart and the intellectual knowledge of concepts that is arrived at through deriving it by a process of reason.

Quote
Man cannot know right from wrong.

Depends what that means. Man can know the natures of good and evil. But he can't derive an "ought" and an "ought not", absolutely, from reason.

Quote
So each man ought to do (or, each man is compelled to do?) whatever he desires to do.

There's no absolute "ought", or I don't know what such a thing supposed to mean. For a man to undergo theosis and attain the Beatific Vision, it is necessary that he have good in his heart and do what is in the divine will. In that sense, one could say that a man who wants Heaven ought to do good. It is also true that God is the force of good and desires Heaven for every man, and in both senses he commands that good be done, and so in this case one can say that man "ought" to do good if meant in the sense that God demands it of us.

Each man will in fact do whatever he wills to do. The only compulsion is out of himself, from an internal necessity, not an external imposition. But this is not a desire of the material body or soul; it is the consequence of a spiritual act.

Quote
If his desires are good then he will live a good life, but if his desires are bad then he will live a bad life.

If we are talking about the internal spiritual will, yes. If we are talking about the, from my perspective external, desires of the material body and soul, then no; even the good man has to conquer these to live a good life.

Quote
Man's natural desires are always bad, so men typically live bad lives offensive to God.

No. Man's desires, in any sense, are not always bad. But there will always be bad desires in his fallen state.

Quote
But God chooses some people and replaces their bad desires with good desires.

God chooses whoever will cooperate with his grace, and the result is given.

Quote
Consequently, those men do what they desire to do, and live good lives which are pleasing to God.

Yes, but it's not an abritrary choice, and it's not without cooperation.

Quote
Quote
God "damns" people who don't have goodness in their heart and refuse to act on the work of the law that is written onto it; because that's what damnation is. This is why there's no such thing as "ingorance" of what is moral, "ignorance" of what the good "demands"; because people know the nature of their actions, and they choose those which are after their heart.
I'm not sure I follow. What exactly do you mean by "people know the nature of their actions"?

I mean that things are what they are, that actions and the phenomena they involve have an essential nature and and intrinsic meaning. A person in possession of his wits knows what it means to torture and kill a child; he knows the spirit of the act, and he will encounter and know the demonic evil that will be invoked in committing it, from which he will either recoil in aborrence or revel in if he is wicked. That is an extreme example, but it is no less true of other evils.  It's totally inconsequential to whether I am acting in good or bad will, when it comes to something that is intrinsically evil in nature, that I know whether or not some authority I call "God" forbids it. Someone who chooses what is evil has evil in his heart, and that's that.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 25, 2019, 12:19:27 PM
Not that the Orthodox don't have plenty of confusion themselves, just considerably less is all.  Even were I to accept Orthodoxy, however, I would always be picked up by a tsunami of doubt and tossed squarely back to agnosticism whenever I consider the problems of evolution and theodicy.

Intelligent design, in which I include evolution by intelligent design, needn't imply the divinity or goodness of the designer. You seemed to agree with my conclusion from some time back that the truth of "theistic" evolution implied an evil "theos". We know the following propositions of gnostics are heretical: the material is intrinsically evil and the creation of an evil demiurge, and Yahweh is that evil demiurge. However, if evolution is true, we needn't go as far as the gnostics to akcnowledge there may be a kernel of truth in the ideas, when the Devil deal is half truths not just to make them more believable but to obscure the true part. It is enough to propose that this physical reality of law-bound materiality was formed by a malevolent intelligence and identify that intelligence with the one that rebelled against Yahweh and tempted Adam into to his expulsion from Eden and fall into this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). One could go further and identify a false "Yawheh" in the deity of the Pharisees, Muslims, etc. and make sense of John 8:44-45. This is rather heterodox and assigns a greater role to Satan in cosmology than usual, but it's nowhere near as "heterodox" as the theistic evolutionist reading of scripture.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Pon de Replay on February 25, 2019, 06:34:04 PM
Intelligent design, in which I include evolution by intelligent design, needn't imply the divinity or goodness of the designer. You seemed to agree with my conclusion from some time back that the truth of "theistic" evolution implied an evil "theos". We know the following propositions of gnostics are heretical: the material is intrinsically evil and the creation of an evil demiurge, and Yahweh is that evil demiurge. However, if evolution is true, we needn't go as far as the gnostics to akcnowledge there may be a kernel of truth in the ideas, when the Devil deal is half truths not just to make them more believable but to obscure the true part. It is enough to propose that this physical reality of law-bound materiality was formed by a malevolent intelligence and identify that intelligence with the one that rebelled against Yahweh and tempted Adam into to his expulsion from Eden and fall into this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). One could go further and identify a false "Yawheh" in the deity of the Pharisees, Muslims, etc. and make sense of John 8:44-45. This is rather heterodox and assigns a greater role to Satan in cosmology than usual, but it's nowhere near as "heterodox" as the theistic evolutionist reading of scripture.

Yes, theistic evolution is probably one of the worst theological positions one can take.  I attempted to hold it for a time myself.  Nothing will make a person contemplate theodicy like theistic evolution; one must lay aeons and aeons of suffering and horror at the feet of God's infinite goodness.  I am quite sympathetic to the Gnostics and Marcionites for such reasons.  The orthodox understanding of Satan renders him little other than the left hand of God, seeing as how nothing he does is opposed to God's permissive will.  And the Gnostics only push the problem back a single step, as it would have to be asked why God allowed the Demiurge his work in the first place.  Only the Manichees, I think, set the forces of evil up as a serious contender, free in their reign.  A genuinely dualistic system.  Of course, all of these are dead religions.  I tried in the past to square problems like papal infallibility and others by holding "heterodox" views on the matters, but the hard fact of trying to do that is that one ends up in a tent of their own.  Catholicism is an apostolic and universal religion.  There was no Catholic priest I could confess my view on infallibility to who would not have told me I was a heretic in a state of mortal sin.  Heavy is the head that wears the white zucchetto, but some can bear the awesome weight of being their own pope.  I am not one of them.


Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 26, 2019, 08:09:36 AM
No. I'm distinguishing betweent he immediate knowledge of the heart and the intellectual knowledge of concepts that is arrived at through deriving it by a process of reason.
What do you mean by "immediate knowledge of the heart"? Are you referring to some sort of innate knowledge? Or are you referring to grace/faith? Or to something else?

Quote
I mean that things are what they are, that actions and the phenomena they involve have an essential nature and and intrinsic meaning. A person in possession of his wits knows what it means to torture and kill a child; he knows the spirit of the act, and he will encounter and know the demonic evil that will be invoked in committing it, from which he will either recoil in aborrence or revel in if he is wicked. That is an extreme example, but it is no less true of other evils.  It's totally inconsequential to whether I am acting in good or bad will, when it comes to something that is intrinsically evil in nature, that I know whether or not some authority I call "God" forbids it. Someone who chooses what is evil has evil in his heart, and that's that.
Even in your extreme example, I wouldn't say that I know that it's wrong to torture innocent children. It does seem quite wrong to do to, and so I would say that I think it's wrong to do so. (If I did say that I 'know' that it's wrong, I'd have been using 'know' in a looser sense.) And if somebody tortured my child, I'd probably be pretty angry. Still, it's conceivable that I'd be mistaken in thinking that it's wrong to torture innocent children, and it's conceivable that my anger would then be out of line.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 26, 2019, 08:44:44 AM
Sigh. Evolution is one of the great hoaxes (the Masons brag of having made modern man believe he is the descendant of the ape in their letters) of the modern world that keeps souls from God. Will get back later, but was reminded of this conversion story: "For a few years of my life, I used to be an atheist. I became an atheist in junior high school when I was exposed to the theory of evolution and due to lack of education in Catholicism–the faith that I was baptized into as an infant–I fell away very easily. However, being an atheist made me very depressed. Why? Because at the end of the existential road is nihilism and accepting that life is meaningless and pointless made me harbor suicidal thoughts. Really, it got quite hard to get out of the bed each morning and to desire to do anything productive, like attend college, have a career, marry, raise a family, etc. So, one day, when I was 17 years old, I literally said to myself, either I believe there is a God, or I kill myself because there is no purpose for my existence. I had no joy in my life and always being a deep thinker my whole life, thinking that there was no purpose for my existence was that troubling for me ...

Then, as people who have read my conversion story know, in 2001, I broke my leg and during surgery, I encountered God in what was very similar to a near-death experience, etc. Now, that supernatural experience should have brought me home immediately to the Catholic Church, but due to various circumstances, it was not until late December 2002, that I discovered the Catholic faith of my infant baptism. I was 3 months shy of my 25th birthday, because–surprise, surprise–God remembers promises like the one I made to myself at age 17. And yes, like so many Catholic conversion stories, it was the Blessed Mother who ultimately brought me back to the Catholic Church and I found Jesus. I am so eternally grateful ...

Firstly, I recommend these three books ... Now, I will say that I wish priests at the pulpit in Holy Mass spoke more about the supernatural. Many Catholics are starving for this information, because talking about God and how He is literally speaking to us today and that miracles really happen, would wake up people in the pews and bring people back to the Catholic Church ... Reading about miracles excites people in their faith. Knowing that God continues to help people even today, is exciting to know. Seriously, if priests were to read these books and just for one year, preach about one miracle at every Sunday Mass, how many people would become animated each week. People would joyfully wonder to themselves, hmm, I wonder what miracle story dear Father is going to share with us today! Such stories stick in the minds of people and demonstrate God’s Great Love for us and the power of prayer ...

Firstly, read all the miracle books on the list that I provided, then give the books to your parish priest and ask him to preach on a miracle at every Holy Mass for a year. That way, people can learn of God’s Love and care for them and the necessity of prayer to God.

For example, many people know that St. Patrick was a great saint of Ireland, but not many know why. It was because St. Patrick performed a resurrection miracle by the power of God. St. Patrick resurrected the drowned daughter and son of the pagan king, which then led to the entire pagan island converting to Catholicism. One of the books that I recommend recounts 400 resurrection miracles performed by the Saints. Priests could simply preach on the power of the Resurrection for a year and that would animate many people in the pews ... Now, let’s say that you are an atheist and you do not believe in miracles. Well, I am going to present to you in the remainder of this blog post, several miracles that are hard for an atheist to refute if he really delves into researching the history of them. Here are the miracles for you to consider. Firstly, there are over 200 bodies of different Saints in the Catholic Church that are incorruptible. Incorruptible means that they have not decayed from natural causes." https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/2019/02/03/is-there-a-god-for-those-seeking-god-atheists-and-lukewarm-catholics/

Knowledge of the existence and experience of the Risen Christ and the Eucharistic Lord is accessible and available to all who seek God in prayer, in the Sacraments, in study, in natural good works that can prepare the way for grace and so on. Pray, dear friends, pray and seek God sincerely, and He will lead you to Him, to salvation and to everlasting happiness, if you seek Him with all your hearts.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 26, 2019, 09:06:55 AM
No. I'm distinguishing betweent he immediate knowledge of the heart and the intellectual knowledge of concepts that is arrived at through deriving it by a process of reason.
What do you mean by "immediate knowledge of the heart"? Are you referring to some sort of innate knowledge? Or are you referring to grace/faith? Or to something else?

I am referring to the work of the law that is written on the heart. The heart knows what it is doing and the nature of its acts.

Quote
Quote
I mean that things are what they are, that actions and the phenomena they involve have an essential nature and and intrinsic meaning. A person in possession of his wits knows what it means to torture and kill a child; he knows the spirit of the act, and he will encounter and know the demonic evil that will be invoked in committing it, from which he will either recoil in aborrence or revel in if he is wicked. That is an extreme example, but it is no less true of other evils.  It's totally inconsequential to whether I am acting in good or bad will, when it comes to something that is intrinsically evil in nature, that I know whether or not some authority I call "God" forbids it. Someone who chooses what is evil has evil in his heart, and that's that.
Even in your extreme example, I wouldn't say that I know that it's wrong to torture innocent children. It does seem quite wrong to do to, and so I would say that I think it's wrong to do so. (If I did say that I 'know' that it's wrong, I'd have been using 'know' in a looser sense.) And if somebody tortured my child, I'd probably be pretty angry. Still, it's conceivable that I'd be mistaken in thinking that it's wrong to torture innocent children, and it's conceivable that my anger would then be out of line.

I don't know how many more times I have to repeat myself if you still don't get it after that explication and return to talking about an ill-defined "right" and "wrong". What part of this are you not getting? Every act, as phenomenon, is something; it has a nature, an essence, an energy, a spirit, or whatever else one likes to call it. I couldn't care less whether a person knows that torturing children is "right" or "wrong" by whatever sense of those words one intends; a person who wills to torture children wills to torture children; he wants to do what he is doing. The torture of children is something, not just an abstract concept or a string of words, and the person who wills it and experiences it knows what that something is; he knows what it means to torture children and he wills to do that. And that is really, truly, categorically distinct from an act like loving a child, caring for a child, or saving a child's life and proceeds from a differently disposed heart. And knowing or not knowing that it is "forbidden" will not change what a heart that is so disposed is, namely cold, demonic, hateful, vindictive, perverse or a host of other things we associate with the nature we call evil.

Picture a man standing before God at his judgment.

God: You wilfully tortured and murdered a little child.
Man: But I didn't know it was forbidden by you.
God: But you know what torture and murder are.
Man: But nobody ever told me they are wrong.
God: But you, knowing what torture and murder are, wilfully tortured and murdered a little child. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.





Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on February 26, 2019, 10:11:21 AM
Quote
Even in your extreme example, I wouldn't say that I know that it's wrong to torture innocent children. It does seem quite wrong to do to, and so I would say that I think it's wrong to do so. (If I did say that I 'know' that it's wrong, I'd have been using 'know' in a looser sense.) And if somebody tortured my child, I'd probably be pretty angry. Still, it's conceivable that I'd be mistaken in thinking that it's wrong to torture innocent children, and it's conceivable that my anger would then be out of line.

Only with logic and intellectualism can a man be so thoroughly lost as to not definitively know that torturing children is wrong.   Thomism has done the greatest disservice to you, your life would be incalculably better had you never encountered it.  Once logic came to dominate faith and morals we were off to the races, the race being to see who can lose their minds the quickest.

At risk of sounding like a hysterical nut, I will use all caps.  You must LIVE the faith, not intellectualize about it.  You know it by living it!  I know what love is because I love my family.  If I were to "know" love through philosophical treatises, or even the catechism, then I know it not.  A man can know drugs are bad from seeing the lives they destroy.  A man can know the sexual sins wrong by becoming bondaged to them and seeing other deviants in chains as well.

Living it is the reality check against the insane nonsense we craft with our logic.  In physics we have theoretical and experimental physicists.  The theorist uses pure mathematics to craft a theory about how nature functions, then he calls up his colleague the experimentalist to see if his purely logical theory, which works on paper and makes great sense, is actually real or not. 

And it goes vice versa too.  The experimentalist discovers something, say that iron filings form rings around a current. Then perhaps he'd pass it off to a theorist to turn this knowkedge into logic (math).  The theorist will come up with something that beautifully explains it, but that does not guarantee that its actually true.  It is merely a model, one that to the best of our knowledge works - yet we cannot say this is definitively how reality is.  But knowing it is not in the field theory model (intellectualization) but in seeing the iron filings form rings (living it, if you will).
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 26, 2019, 10:46:10 PM

Picture a man standing before God at his judgment.

God: You wilfully tortured and murdered a little child.
Man: But I didn't know it was forbidden by you.
God: But you know what torture and murder are.
Man: But nobody ever told me they are wrong.
God: But you, knowing what torture and murder are, wilfully tortured and murdered a little child. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.

Really knowing what torture and murder are INCLUDES knowing that they are wrong.  We can say more than just "they are what they are"; what they are is evil, and so wrong, and that is why God said "Thou shalt not kill".  For some reason God saw fit to give that command, as if to to  point out as a forceful reminder "look, you know what they are, you know they are evil, you know they are wrong".  The Israelites worshiping a golden calf knew what they were doing, and therefore they were evil, and (had they died) would have been cast into everlasting fire (I think you would agree).  But God still gave them the command "Thou shalt have no strange Gods before Me".  It is very  good to be told something is morally wrong even if not being told is not an excuse.

Considering only that something is checked off as right or wrong, and neglecting the knowledge in our hearts (as we do it) that it is good or evil in itself, can go with being an evil man or thinking in an evil way. But if something is "evil in itself, known as you do it" it can also be known as objectively wrong, abstractly.  The study of morality (the implications of the commandments of God) is useful for men with muffled hearts and blurred intellects.

Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 27, 2019, 12:14:07 AM
I am referring to the work of the law that is written on the heart. The heart knows what it is doing and the nature of its acts.

[. . .]

I don't know how many more times I have to repeat myself if you still don't get it after that explication and return to talking about an ill-defined "right" and "wrong". What part of this are you not getting? Every act, as phenomenon, is something; it has a nature, an essence, an energy, a spirit, or whatever else one likes to call it. I couldn't care less whether a person knows that torturing children is "right" or "wrong" by whatever sense of those words one intends; a person who wills to torture children wills to torture children; he wants to do what he is doing. The torture of children is something, not just an abstract concept or a string of words, and the person who wills it and experiences it knows what that something is; he knows what it means to torture children and he wills to do that. And that is really, truly, categorically distinct from an act like loving a child, caring for a child, or saving a child's life and proceeds from a differently disposed heart. And knowing or not knowing that it is "forbidden" will not change what a heart that is so disposed is, namely cold, demonic, hateful, vindictive, perverse or a host of other things we associate with the nature we call evil.

Picture a man standing before God at his judgment.

God: You wilfully tortured and murdered a little child.
Man: But I didn't know it was forbidden by you.
God: But you know what torture and murder are.
Man: But nobody ever told me they are wrong.
God: But you, knowing what torture and murder are, wilfully tortured and murdered a little child. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.
I'm sorry, but I honestly still don't understand.

I can just barely get a glimpse of what you're saying through that last piece of imagery. But it's still so unclear. What I now hear you saying is that each man has, in his heart (which I guess is distinct from the intellect), an idea about the reality of one of his potential actions (e.g. all men know what comprises the act of "torturing children"). Each man also has his own preferences with regard to that idea (or, with regard to that reality?): some men find pleasure in torturing children, while other men find torturing children to be repulsive. Then there is God who hates the torturing of children. The men who happen to have all the same preferences as God (e.g. the men who don't like to torture children) are saved, while the men who happen to prefer what God does not prefer (viz. the ones who like to torture children) are damned. Is that pretty much it, or am I still way off?



At risk of sounding like a hysterical nut, I will use all caps.  You must LIVE the faith, not intellectualize about it.  You know it by living it!  I know what love is because I love my family.  If I were to "know" love through philosophical treatises, or even the catechism, then I know it not.  A man can know drugs are bad from seeing the lives they destroy.  A man can know the sexual sins wrong by becoming bondaged to them and seeing other deviants in chains as well.

Living it is the reality check against the insane nonsense we craft with our logic.  In physics we have theoretical and experimental physicists.  The theorist uses pure mathematics to craft a theory about how nature functions, then he calls up his colleague the experimentalist to see if his purely logical theory, which works on paper and makes great sense, is actually real or not. 

And it goes vice versa too.  The experimentalist discovers something, say that iron filings form rings around a current. Then perhaps he'd pass it off to a theorist to turn this knowkedge into logic (math).  The theorist will come up with something that beautifully explains it, but that does not guarantee that its actually true.  It is merely a model, one that to the best of our knowledge works - yet we cannot say this is definitively how reality is.  But knowing it is not in the field theory model (intellectualization) but in seeing the iron filings form rings (living it, if you will).
What you speak of is not "knowledge". Or, at least not "knowledge" as I use the word. Because our experiences can be wrong. And even if they aren't wrong, they can still only bring us so far.

But anyway, even if the answer is to be found in "living the faith", how does the man without faith "live the faith"? Seems impossible.
And in what does "living the faith" consist? Do you just mean living a life in obedience to the Catholic Church, or do you mean something else? If the former, I'm not seeing how that's reconcilable to the more-intuitive idea that we ought to live our lives out of love for God. If the Catholic Church is not from God, but rather is blasphemous, deceptive, and oppressive, then common sense would tell us to disregard whatever the Catholic Church is saying.
(Since I personally have no knowledge that the Catholic Church is blasphemous, deceptive, or oppressive, I'm hesitant to disregard it. But since I personally have no knowledge to the contrary, I'm also hesitant to obey. If I were to make a judgment based on experience, I'd have to choose to disregard the Catholic Church. But I think such a decision is rash.)
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on February 27, 2019, 08:02:44 AM
What I now hear you saying is that each man has, in his heart (which I guess is distinct from the intellect), an idea about the essence of some particular action (e.g. all men know what comprises the act of "torturing children").

Not an idea. The knowledge is not that of a system of signs somehow corresponding to reality like that of the rational intellect, nor even a verbally unexpressed idea, but is immediate; the heart knows its own acts, what it wills and what it does.

Quote
Each man also has his own preferences with regard to that idea: some men take pleasure in torturing children, while other men find torturing children to be repulsive. Then there is God who hates the torturing of children.

The "preference" is only an expression of the nature of a man's heart. I point to the Bible calling David a "man after God's own heart". That nature is either fundamentally open to God and to being a conduit for the divine energies or it is shut off and reprobate.

Quote
The men who happen to have all the same preferences as God (e.g. the men who don't like to torture children) are saved, while the men who happen to prefer what God does not prefer (viz. the ones who like to torture children) are damned. Is that pretty much it, or am I still way off?

My intention was to present it as a economy of salvation. I wanted only to express that "ignorance" of the "wrongness" of intrinsic evils does not change what is in the heart of the man who commits them. Evil does as evil is, and what is evil cannot unite with God.

Quote
What you speak of is not "knowledge". Or, at least not "knowledge" as I use the word. Because our experiences can be wrong. And even if they aren't wrong, they can still only bring us so far.

No. Experiences can't be right or wrong; they are only what they are. Only judgments of possible statements about experience can be right or wrong.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 28, 2019, 03:09:42 AM
I wanted only to express that "ignorance" of the "wrongness" of intrinsic evils does not change what is in the heart of the man who commits them. Evil does as evil is, and what is evil cannot unite with God.

If I KNOW the intrinsic evil of abortion, and don't do it (or wish it), I have no evil in my heart (regarding that matter).  If I claim I don't KNOW the intrinsic evil of abortion, and do it, then because it is in fact intrinsic the heart really "knows" in its way what I am doing, and "evil does as evil is" and cannot unite with God.

But if I DON'T know that abortion is intrinsically evil (or claim I don't), I still may not do it at all, but also I don't condemn others for doing it, or protest them, or stay away from occasions that would tempt me (sex outside of marriage), or pray for help for myself or others.

At the actual moment of an intrinsically evil act, intellectual knowledge of its objective evil is too late, but the heart knows the evil it is doing as it is done. That seems reasonable. But intellectual knowledge (or a forceful reminder) that an act is intrinsically evil can help you not to get to that moment. I think this is one reason why God tells us "Thou shalt not kill".

Does this make some sense?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on February 28, 2019, 07:36:04 AM
Quote from: Pon
I probably don't need as much convincing as it might seem, Xavier, in order to be persuaded that Christianity is the most likely of the theistic religions on offer.

Great. In Christianity, Pon, and specifically in the Person of Christ, we see something dramatically different than in other religions. We see that God comes to find Man, we see that God becomes Man for love of us, that God comes to save Man, that God offers His Life in Sacrifice for our sake, purely in Love, even before we knew to ask! In other religions, even those that approach the Truth, we see consciousness of something like sin that hinders man from approaching the Divinity, something like a divine intervention through sacrifice that is needed to take it away, and yet those of those religions are still searching for what that is, for where that supreme sacrifice of the Lamb of God in blood that alone blots out sin is.

Quote
But seeing as how Vatican II happened, I find Eastern Orthodoxy (should a form of Christianity be true) the more palatable form over Catholicism.

Well, Eastern Orthodox are actually very close to us, on like 99% of doctrines. For e.g. they also pray for the departed to be purified to enter heaven in peace, but then say purgatory is questionable, though St. Paul speaks of being purified in fire (1 Cor 3:15) and Judas Macchabeus commands prayers and sacrifices for some who sinned, (2 Macc 12:43-46, accepted by Orthodox) - thus proving sins are loosed for the departed by prayer and sacrifices - while they themselves also pray for the same in their Divine Liturgy, taught by Apostolic Tradition and by the whole of Scripture just like us Catholic Christians. And similarly, there are so many words in Greek itself that express the sinlessness of the Virgin, Whom they themselves call All-Holy Theotokos, like Panagia, Panomomos, Prokathartheisa, All-Holy, Stainless, Sole Prepurified One, but they disagree with the Immaculate Conception, while also believing Mother Mary to be the New Eve. So this I think is relatively a small matter which can be cleared up in a future Council. If one is attracted to Eastern Christian spirituality, being Eastern Catholic is a legitimate option.

I think Orthodox and Catholics may well be re-united in a single Catholic Church within about 30 years. There's something exciting like the beginning of a Council being planned for 2025. In my opinion, we will see Catholic-Orthodox re-union in our lifetime. The event in 2025 is to commemorate the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

Quote
I am aware of the miracles.  All I can say is that the amount of reasonable doubt I have from evolution and theodicy is more than sufficient to overcome the miracle claims.

If we take the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, for instance, does it not show it is quite reasonable for us to believe Christ keeps His Word, even in the most seemingly difficult things? He said, "Jn 6:33 For the Bread of God is He Who cometh down from heaven, and giveth Life to the world.", He said it, and He has done it, even visibly, for those who still doubt.

"Doubting Thomas" did make a mistake, originally, but after knowing by experience the Risen Christ, became a great Apostle, who was gloriously martyred after preaching the Faith and forming the Church in India. God imho wants us all to begin to enjoy the blessing and peace of a strong Faith in Him Who is Truth, such as the holy Apostles had after the Resurrection, and which already even in this life is a prelude to eternal happiness and a foretaste of everlasting bliss.

I think you said, Pon, that you also have experienced what seemed to you at the time to be the Presence of Christ in Eucharistic Adoration. I would say you should continue such practices as far as possible, even as you study, and inquire, and you could just pray to Jesus in simple words also. "Lord, if You're there, help me believe in You firmly, and love You and my neighbor". A simple persevering prayer like that, in Eucharistic Adoration now and then, will often help you receive signal graces. The Rosary is another great means, for which the same grace is expressly promised by the Mother of God.

I know you are attracted to "Jansenistic" spirituality, but imho, that tends over time rather to keep souls away from God. For e.g., it says, out of the claim of Reverence for the Blessed Sacrament - something so commendable in itself - that we need to stay away from Jesus in Holy Communion for long periods of time, allegedly in order to grow closer to Him, which seems plainly erroneous. Most Holy Doctors like St. Alphonsus recommend strongly the exact opposite. One good confession is all it takes. The firm resolve to be detached from the world and be united to Christ Who has loved us so much and waits always as a Prisoner of His Love for us in the Blessed Sacrament. Then, we should go, believing in Him, to adore Him in Holy Mass, offer Him with the Priest to the Eternal Father for sins, and then receive Him.

If we meditate on the promise of Heaven, and the great joy the blessed enjoy for all eternity, we will the more easily grow in love of God Who has promised it to us. And St. Augustine remarks that Jesus has done a greater thing for us than He has promised. "What has He done? He has died for love of you. What has He promised to do? He has promised to take you to love with Him" so we should believe Him.

Others are discussing Conscience. The Catechism has this on conscience, CCC 1776 "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God.His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."47 1777 Moral conscience,48 present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.49 It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a6.htm
 
God's Light showing us the difference between good and evil is like the light of the sun that manifests the difference between light and darkness. It always exists objectively, whether we acknowledge it or not subjectively. The natural faculty of our conscience is perfected by the supernatural light of the Holy Spirit that is faith, when we are regenerated in Baptism. If we can be certain and treat it as a fact that terrorism is wrong legally (as all of us do), we can be certain that there is an immutable moral law, above every mutable civil law. It is this law we discern on our conscience and in our hearts when we act, which shows us God is Goodness.

Evolution we can discuss in the DNA thread. I think there's a lot of purely scientific evidence against evolution, we have DNA, soft tissues, and even living bacteria! (and not much different from modern bacteria!) surviving for what is alleged to be hundreds of millions or even billions of years - which seems to be sufficient reason to doubt the accuracy of those dates.  But because of what our conscience assures us about the Supreme Goodness Who made us being the Eternal source of the moral law, we can be assured He is Good no matter what. Perhaps, Pon, the fact that we know God is Good should be yet another moral and philosophical reason to reject the evolutionist opinion.

God bless.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on February 28, 2019, 07:27:15 PM
What I now hear you saying is that each man has, in his heart (which I guess is distinct from the intellect), an idea about the essence of some particular action (e.g. all men know what comprises the act of "torturing children").

Not an idea. The knowledge is not that of a system of signs somehow corresponding to reality like that of the rational intellect, nor even a verbally unexpressed idea, but is immediate; the heart knows its own acts, what it wills and what it does.
What do you mean by 'immediate'?

Quote
Quote
Each man also has his own preferences with regard to that idea: some men take pleasure in torturing children, while other men find torturing children to be repulsive. Then there is God who hates the torturing of children.

The "preference" is only an expression of the nature of a man's heart. I point to the Bible calling David a "man after God's own heart". That nature is either fundamentally open to God and to being a conduit for the divine energies or it is shut off and reprobate.

Quote
The men who happen to have all the same preferences as God (e.g. the men who don't like to torture children) are saved, while the men who happen to prefer what God does not prefer (viz. the ones who like to torture children) are damned. Is that pretty much it, or am I still way off?

My intention was to present it as a economy of salvation. I wanted only to express that "ignorance" of the "wrongness" of intrinsic evils does not change what is in the heart of the man who commits them. Evil does as evil is, and what is evil cannot unite with God.
I think I get what you're saying. Good deeds follow from good people, and evil deeds follow from evil people. Each man is either good or evil, and there's nothing he can do about it (he can't even know whether or not he is evil). But didn't the Catholic Church condemn all this?

Quote
Quote
What you speak of is not "knowledge". Or, at least not "knowledge" as I use the word. Because our experiences can be wrong. And even if they aren't wrong, they can still only bring us so far.

No. Experiences can't be right or wrong; they are only what they are. Only judgments of possible statements about experience can be right or wrong.
Good point. But regardless, if our judgements can be wrong then our experiences still cannot bring us knowledge.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on February 28, 2019, 10:04:17 PM
What I now hear you saying is that each man has, in his heart (which I guess is distinct from the intellect), an idea about the essence of some particular action (e.g. all men know what comprises the act of "torturing children").

Not an idea. The knowledge is not that of a system of signs somehow corresponding to reality like that of the rational intellect, nor even a verbally unexpressed idea, but is immediate; the heart knows its own acts, what it wills and what it does.
What do you mean by 'immediate'?

Sorry if I'm interrupting a conversation between you and Kreuzritter (maybe so, as I think I haven't been fitting in).

You do KNOW that torturing children is wrong, right? There are different kinds of knowledge, don't belittle one of them. It is "gut level", in the heart (immediate; you don't have to think about the essence of things), but the intellect can't deny it.  There are crazy people who might contort their minds and deny that they know that 2 + 2 equals 4.  And there are absolutely evil people who contort their heart (and their mind's recognition) and deny their knowledge that torturing children is wrong (= evil). But that doesn't disprove the reality that sane and decent people know the truth. No argument is needed.

An act is evil (as it is done) in the heart of a man; but it can also be intellectually recognized (even by a man who doesn't do it) as being an evil act WHENEVER it is done by any man (for an intrinsically evil act, there are no exceptions). "Objective intrinsic evil" maps to "evil in the heart" when it is done.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 01, 2019, 01:59:59 AM
Quote
Because our experiences can be wrong.

An experimentalist successfully demonstrates an experiment, the theorist exclaims "Ah, but does it work on paper?"  Some people do not believe their lying eyes nor can they see the trees for the forest.

Quote
But anyway, even if the answer is to be found in "living the faith", how does the man without faith "live the faith"? Seems impossible.

How does a baby learn English when he has it not?  By listening and doing.  He receives and lives it.  The Church teaches that everyone has access to the graces of God.

Quote
And in what does "living the faith" consist? Do you just mean living a life in obedience to the Catholic Church, or do you mean something else? If the former, I'm not seeing how that's reconcilable to the more-intuitive idea that we ought to live our lives out of love for God. If the Catholic Church is not from God, but rather is blasphemous, deceptive, and oppressive, then common sense would tell us to disregard whatever the Catholic Church is saying.

You either follow an organized religion, make it up as you go, take no stance on it, or reject it all.  Starting from nothing, how is it more intuitive to live our lives out of love for God than anything else?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on March 01, 2019, 03:58:01 AM

Quote
But anyway, even if the answer is to be found in "living the faith", how does the man without faith "live the faith"? Seems impossible.

How does a baby learn English when he has it not?  By listening and doing.  He receives and lives it.  The Church teaches that everyone has access to the graces of God.

Quote
And in what does "living the faith" consist? Do you just mean living a life in obedience to the Catholic Church, or do you mean something else? If the former, I'm not seeing how that's reconcilable to the more-intuitive idea that we ought to live our lives out of love for God. If the Catholic Church is not from God, but rather is blasphemous, deceptive, and oppressive, then common sense would tell us to disregard whatever the Catholic Church is saying.

You either follow an organized religion, make it up as you go, take no stance on it, or reject it all.  Starting from nothing, how is it more intuitive to live our lives out of love for God than anything else?

I don't see how most of this couldn't be said for a Muslim.  He follows an organized religion by listening and doing, and receiving and living it. Are you just saying "by God's grace YOU happen to be following the right religion, so stop thinking about it"?

Adam and Eve found it natural or intuitive to love God above all before they fell. Even we are attracted to good (we have a conscience) unless we have let ourselves become corrupted.  People aren't born with a natural neutral attitude towards torturing children. There is good in the Catholic Church that can be seen even before one is personally living it.  Otherwise why talk about it to others and try to convert them? Grace (the gift of faith) comes only from God, but He works through reason too.

I agree that once you are a Catholic (and believe its teachings) the best way to increase your faith is to live it. But I think St. Thomas is a good example of living it partly by thinking and teaching others about it. Living includes thinking and (for some) teaching the truth about faith. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (St. Thomas teaches truth is the conformance of the intellect to reality; which is what we are trying to help Daniel with here.)
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on March 01, 2019, 07:27:31 AM
Conscience, compared to the Holy Spirit, is a very weak guide, although not one to be totally rejected; conscience only bears witness to the eternal law God decreed from of old, what God spoke long ago, and in a certain sense, only what God prohibits e.g. Thou shalt not kill. But the Holy Spirit, in a much more perfect and wonderful way, after He begins to indwell us Christians in Baptism and by our faith and love of Christ Crucified, He also tells us what God wishes us to do, e.g. to love God and our neighbor, positively, and also in specific situations of life, guides us by His signal graces and so on. Conscience is good, but only a natural guide. As grace builds on and perfects nature, so the Holy Spirit perfects the natural faculty of conscience by the light of faith by which He enlightens our mind, and the fire of His love that inflames our hearts with love of God.

Quote from: Daniel
Do you just mean living a life in obedience to the Catholic Church, or do you mean something else? If the former, I'm not seeing how that's reconcilable to the more-intuitive idea that we ought to live our lives out of love for God

Daniel, who told you that loving God above all things is the highest ideal of all (which is true, and a good thing)? Was it your conscience? Very good. In such a case, you can be almost certain that Jesus Christ is God, since He explains this is the heart and purpose of the law, better than even the best rabbis ever could. "[33] And the multitudes hearing it, were in admiration at his doctrine. [34] But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together: [35] And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him: [36] Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? [37] Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. [38] This is the greatest and the first commandment. [39] And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets." http://www.drbo.org/chapter/47022.htm

So also is the Catholic Church certainly the means God has used for all to come to love of Him, since no one else has ever taught the world that God has done so much for man, and most richly deserves the love of our whole hearts and more. If, therefore you are sure God is to be loved with our whole hearts and that the purest motive for all our actions is love of God (which is true), then you should consider being Catholic, since only the Catholic Church has ever and most perfectly taught this. E.g. from Trent's Catechism: "In the first three Commandments, which have been explained, God, the supreme good, is, as it were, the subject matter; in the others, it is the good of our neighbour. The former require the highest love, the latter the love next to the highest. The former have to do with our last end, the latter with those things that lead us to our end. Again, the love of God terminates in God Himself, for God is to be loved above all things for His own sake; but the love of our neighbour originates in, and is to be regulated by, the love of God. If we love our parents, obey our masters, respect our superiors, our ruling principle in doing so should be that God is their Creator, and wishes to give pre-eminence to those by whose cooperation He governs and protects other men; and as He requires that we yield a dutiful respect to such persons, we should do so, because He deems them worthy of this honour. If, then, we honour our parents, the tribute is paid to God rather than to man." http://www.catholicapologetics.info/thechurch/catechism/TenCommandments-fourth.shtml God bless.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 01, 2019, 08:20:55 AM
Quote
I don't see how most of this couldn't be said for a Muslim.  He follows an organized religion by listening and doing, and receiving and living it. Are you just saying "by God's grace YOU happen to be following the right religion, so stop thinking about it"?

I am talking with a man whom is so deeply, deeply mired in his thoughts that he cannot see the obvious realities around him, such as that torturing children is wrong.  He has to get outside of his mind before he's ever going to leave the quagmire he's put himself into.  I am not much discussing theology with him, for it only feeds his problem.  I see obviously where your comment is coming from, but its misplaced.

Daniel's problem is not going to be fixed by more detailed theological discussion.  This dance has been ongoing for years and it seems to only get worse (again, we've now reached the point where he doesn't know that torturing children is wrong.  Last month he asked if cannibalism is wrong.  At this rate, during Lent he'll want to discuss the morality of eating children).  Shall we discuss theology with him some more, or is it time to change tact?

I used to discuss politics with leftists for a good long while before finally realizing how fruitless it is.  Their problems will not be fixed head-on with more debate and argument.  They will only come to sense once they live it - let them fail in their leftism or let them mature out of it via cummulative life experiences.  But talk is pointless.  If Daniel cannot think his way out of the hole of intense skepticism he's dug himself into, then he needs to try something radically different.  By the way, I give this example not to say that Daniel is a leftist.

Greg's analysis for the flat-earthers was correct - and his solution to their problem was not to construct better arguments fo convince them.

Daniel would be far better served by putting the energy he puts into thinking about theology into doing something else.  For most men that would entail forming a family, working hard as a father, praying hard and working in the community.  Magically then one is not so concerned about dotting every i and crossing every t in Christian theology.  He'd be free to live the Christian life without this endless and debilitating theological scrupulosity he's stuck in.

 :pray1:
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on March 01, 2019, 05:00:51 PM
Quote
Not an idea. The knowledge is not that of a system of signs somehow corresponding to reality like that of the rational intellect, nor even a verbally unexpressed idea, but is immediate; the heart knows its own acts, what it wills and what it does.
What do you mean by 'immediate'?

I mean knowledge isn't always in the form of true propositions about reality. What the rational intellect does in dealing with the world, to be brief, is form concepts among concepts which it then imposes upon it as a system, and then in relation to the internal rules of that system and how it relates to reality, it judges if some particular statements made within that system "apply", "correspond" or "are the case". When we're judging the truth of statements involving concepts, we're not judging or dealing directly with reality. Rather, we're judging a representation of a conceptual scheme and thus only mediately dealing with reality.

It's somewhat analagous to how abstract musical notation relates to an actual piece of music; the "sheet music" may, according to the rules of musical notation, "correctly" denote the piece of music and allow for others who understand these rules and have experience of the phenomena the signs point to to find and reproduce it; but the sheet music is not the actual music somehow "once again", and to one who hears the music, he has actual, immediate knowledge of that music in itself, a knowledge that doesn't involve any statements or judgments of their truth.

Quote
Quote
]My intention was to present it as a economy of salvation. I wanted only to express that "ignorance" of the "wrongness" of intrinsic evils does not change what is in the heart of the man who commits them. Evil does as evil is, and what is evil cannot unite with God.
I think I get what you're saying. Good deeds follow from good people, and evil deeds follow from evil people. Each man is either good or evil, and there's nothing he can do about it (he can't even know whether or not he is evil). But didn't the Catholic Church condemn all this?

But you're taking what I've said out of the context of grace. Men without God are lost, and all of us are wicked, by degree. God, through an act of prevenient grace, announces himself to the spirit and frees the human subject to make a choice in favour of or against him. "Good" here means one who, by grace, chooses God, and begin to be transformed by him, because despite his sins, despite his evil desires, he embraces a love for God, good, truth, beauty and tries to fight against his fallen nature. It's not that the reprobate can't, due to a deficiency of power, change his ways and choose good; it's that he won't.

Quote
But regardless, if our judgements can be wrong then our experiences still cannot bring us knowledge.

Experiences constitute knowledge in themselves. Just not knowledge that can necessarily be expressed in a language or fitted into a system.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on March 01, 2019, 05:10:27 PM
I wanted only to express that "ignorance" of the "wrongness" of intrinsic evils does not change what is in the heart of the man who commits them. Evil does as evil is, and what is evil cannot unite with God.

If I KNOW the intrinsic evil of abortion, and don't do it (or wish it), I have no evil in my heart (regarding that matter).  If I claim I don't KNOW the intrinsic evil of abortion, and do it, then because it is in fact intrinsic the heart really "knows" in its way what I am doing, and "evil does as evil is" and cannot unite with God.

But if I DON'T know that abortion is intrinsically evil (or claim I don't), I still may not do it at all, but also I don't condemn others for doing it, or protest them, or stay away from occasions that would tempt me (sex outside of marriage), or pray for help for myself or others.

At the actual moment of an intrinsically evil act, intellectual knowledge of its objective evil is too late, but the heart knows the evil it is doing as it is done. That seems reasonable. But intellectual knowledge (or a forceful reminder) that an act is intrinsically evil can help you not to get to that moment. I think this is one reason why God tells us "Thou shalt not kill".

Does this make some sense?

Makes sense to me.

As I said, I'm really concerned with over-intellectualising morality, and I'm also completely dismissive of the central enterprise of ethics to "discover" and "prove" value and moral commandments through applied reason. I'm in no wise criticisng explicit commandments or the various practical reasons I can think of for their existence.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on March 01, 2019, 09:18:09 PM
I mean knowledge isn't always in the form of true propositions about reality. What the rational intellect does in dealing with the world, to be brief, is form concepts among concepts which it then imposes upon it as a system, and then in relation to the internal rules of that system and how it relates to reality, it judges if some particular statements made within that system "apply", "correspond" or "are the case". When we're judging the truth of statements involving concepts, we're not judging or dealing directly with reality. Rather, we're judging a representation of a conceptual scheme and thus only mediately dealing with reality.

It's somewhat analagous to how abstract musical notation relates to an actual piece of music; the "sheet music" may, according to the rules of musical notation, "correctly" denote the piece of music and allow for others who understand these rules and have experience of the phenomena the signs point to to find and reproduce it; but the sheet music is not the actual music somehow "once again", and to one who hears the music, he has actual, immediate knowledge of that music in itself, a knowledge that doesn't involve any statements or judgments of their truth.

[. . .]

Experiences constitute knowledge in themselves. Just not knowledge that can necessarily be expressed in a language or fitted into a system.
So basically, 'immediate knowledge' is raw sense data? But if that's the case, how are we to gain access to it? As soon as we make any sort of judgement, the pure knowledge becomes corrupted by our judgement and ceases to be knowledge.


Quote
But you're taking what I've said out of the context of grace. Men without God are lost, and all of us are wicked, by degree. God, through an act of prevenient grace, announces himself to the spirit and frees the human subject to make a choice in favour of or against him. "Good" here means one who, by grace, chooses God, and begin to be transformed by him, because despite his sins, despite his evil desires, he embraces a love for God, good, truth, beauty and tries to fight against his fallen nature. It's not that the reprobate can't, due to a deficiency of power, change his ways and choose good; it's that he won't.
How can the evil man change his character and his actions if he does not first know that he's evil? If 'good' is defined as conformity with God, and if God is unknowable, then it's basically hit or miss. Or perhaps I'm misunderstanding you.

Or consider me, as an example. I profess to love God. My love for God is the very reason that I am unwilling to submit to the Catholic Church, because for all I know the Catholic Church may not be from God (at worst, the Catholic Church could be a deliberate deceiver and enemy of God, and at best the Catholic Church would be an incompetent teacher whose false teachings come between us and God. In either case it would be bad to submit).
Yet the Catholic Church, without any proof of her divine authority, claims that I am evil. As if I somehow know or should know that she is from God, and as if my unwillingness to submit to her is the same thing as an unwillingness to submit to God. She then further threatens me with hell if I don't believe her dogmas, obey her laws and moral teachings, and receive her sacraments.
I sincerely do not know whether the Catholic Church is right. It's not that I have the knowledge and am pretending not to have it... I honestly don't have the knowledge. Or if I do, I don't know that I do. In either case, I don't know which course of action to take. So given my current lack of knowledge, I literally can't do the right thing. (Unless the "right thing" is nothing more than to take an educated guess and hope to get lucky.)
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 02, 2019, 10:07:18 PM
Quote
Or consider me, as an example. I profess to love God. My love for God is the very reason that I am unwilling to submit to the Catholic Church, because for all I know the Catholic Church may not be from God

Are you a Christian whom doubts the Church or just a deist?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on March 03, 2019, 08:03:20 AM
Quote
Or consider me, as an example. I profess to love God. My love for God is the very reason that I am unwilling to submit to the Catholic Church, because for all I know the Catholic Church may not be from God

Are you a Christian whom doubts the Church or just a deist?
With regard to my baptism (assuming there is such a thing as baptism), I am a Christian.

With regard to my beliefs, I am currently neither a Christian nor a deist.

I 'would' believe in whichever religion is the true religion. But I can't, since I don't know which of the religions that is. I'm pretty sure it's beyond man's power to ever know... even if man lived for a million years, and knew everything there was to know about every religion which has ever existed and which ever will exist, he will still not be able to figure out which one is true. (He might be able to eliminate some of them. But even if we suppose that he narrowed the list down to a single religion, he's still in no position to know whether or not that particular religion is true.) Either the knowledge must be given to him immediately by God (and in such a way that he knows, unmistakably, that the knowledge has come from God), or else he can simply never know. But so long as he doesn't know, he shouldn't claim that he knows. And neither should he risk offending God by blindly wagering his mind and heart on a religion which might be offensive to God. He should just wait around, not committing himself to any sort of religion or set of beliefs, until God chooses to give him the knowledge he needs. If and only if God gives him that knowledge, then can he practice the true religion and hold that religion's dogmas to be true.
edit - But I realize that what I just said may be hypocritical, since I have no way of knowing that what I just said is true and that what I just said doesn't offend God. But I think this might be unavoidable... maybe we just can't not offend God. Still, I'd think that believing in something false is worse than withholding belief. Because when you withhold belief, at least you're still open to the truth. And when you withhold belief, you aren't sacrificing to idols rather than to God.

edit - Sorry for the wall of text.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 03, 2019, 11:36:12 PM
Quote
Daniel's wall of analysis paralysis

Allow me to paralyze you further.

How do you know that your hypothetical god does not equally care about the seemingly mundane actions of the day?  You assume he's greatly offended by worshipping idols and the like, but why do you not also assume he's just as offended when you wear that blue shirt instead of the green one he planned for you from all eternity?  Perhaps this offends him even more.

Do you hold this standard for all areas of your life?  You do not even know if your hypothetical god or afterlife even exist, but there are other things you do know.  You know you will die one day (or is this in doubt too?).  Why not then require similar standards of certainty towards the actions of the day which, perhaps, could result in death.  For example, that midnight McDonalds run might result in death, do you know for certain it will not?  Death is far more certain to you than this hypothetical god of which you speak, yet you do not let uncertainty over life-or-death decisions prevent you from making them.  Why do you carve out a needless exception for God which paralyzes you?

God prepared the Jews for the coming of His Son.  He held their hands for thousands of years to prepare them.  When He came, most did not know it was Him, at least not to the standards of certainty that you require of this knowledge.  Why do you expect higher certainty now then when Jesus Himself walked amongst the Jews?
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on March 04, 2019, 01:17:06 AM
Quote
I don't see how most of this couldn't be said for a Muslim.  He follows an organized religion by listening and doing, and receiving and living it. Are you just saying "by God's grace YOU happen to be following the right religion, so stop thinking about it"?

I am talking with a man whom is so deeply, deeply mired in his thoughts that he cannot see the obvious realities around him, such as that torturing children is wrong.  He has to get outside of his mind before he's ever going to leave the quagmire he's put himself into.  I am not much discussing theology with him, for it only feeds his problem.  I see obviously where your comment is coming from, but its misplaced.

Daniel's problem is not going to be fixed by more detailed theological discussion.  This dance has been ongoing for years and it seems to only get worse (again, we've now reached the point where he doesn't know that torturing children is wrong.  Last month he asked if cannibalism is wrong.  At this rate, during Lent he'll want to discuss the morality of eating children).  Shall we discuss theology with him some more, or is it time to change tact?

I used to discuss politics with leftists for a good long while before finally realizing how fruitless it is.  Their problems will not be fixed head-on with more debate and argument.  They will only come to sense once they live it - let them fail in their leftism or let them mature out of it via cummulative life experiences.  But talk is pointless.  If Daniel cannot think his way out of the hole of intense skepticism he's dug himself into, then he needs to try something radically different.  By the way, I give this example not to say that Daniel is a leftist.

Greg's analysis for the flat-earthers was correct - and his solution to their problem was not to construct better arguments fo convince them.

Daniel would be far better served by putting the energy he puts into thinking about theology into doing something else.  For most men that would entail forming a family, working hard as a father, praying hard and working in the community.  Magically then one is not so concerned about dotting every i and crossing every t in Christian theology.  He'd be free to live the Christian life without this endless and debilitating theological scrupulosity he's stuck in.

 :pray1:

Sorry; I was reading the post I answered outside of the full context of this thread. I think your thoughts above make a lot of sense.

It is hard to know how to help someone whose thinking has gone amuck.  If you just say, go do something different, and leave him, he may just continue his favorite activity of thinking and go further amuck. Do you have to go "cold turkey" on directly considering the actual things he says, when he is saying them to you?

That being said, I think you are right that he needs a radical change away from endless theological speculation. 

I appreciate your exchange with Daniel (above; I haven't read it all).  You obviously aren't only saying "go do something different" but are also engaging with Daniel about his own thinking. Maybe we have to do both.  But I think we have to pray for SOME kind of radical change... or maybe God will just help Daniel slowly "drift away" from his nonsense, due to a variety of things in his life.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on March 04, 2019, 01:18:10 AM
Quote
Daniel's wall of analysis paralysis

Allow me to paralyze you further.

How do you know that your hypothetical god does not equally care about the seemingly mundane actions of the day?  You assume he's greatly offended by worshipping idols and the like, but why do you not also assume he's just as offended when you wear that blue shirt instead of the green one he planned for you from all eternity?  Perhaps this offends him even more.

Do you hold this standard for all areas of your life?  You do not even know if your hypothetical god or afterlife even exist, but there are other things you do know.  You know you will die one day (or is this in doubt too?).  Why not then require similar standards of certainty towards the actions of the day which, perhaps, could result in death.  For example, that midnight McDonalds run might result in death, do you know for certain it will not?  Death is far more certain to you than this hypothetical god of which you speak, yet you do not let uncertainty over life-or-death decisions prevent you from making them.  Why do you carve out a needless exception for God which paralyzes you?

I don't know... maybe those trivial things do offend God.

But what's the solution? Seems to me that this is reason to just give up on God altogether. Just do whatever we want, and we'd probably also want to hate God, because He's a monster.
But you have something else in mind?


Quote
God prepared the Jews for the coming of His Son.  He held their hands for thousands of years to prepare them.  When He came, most did not know it was Him, at least not to the standards of certainty that you require of this knowledge.  Why do you expect higher certainty now then when Jesus Himself walked amongst the Jews?
Maybe most of them were damned. Or maybe many of them knew more than you think they knew.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on March 04, 2019, 07:24:58 AM
Daniel has said he doesn't pray. That's where things begin to go wrong, because we can't save our soul without prayer: "One day you admonished me: “Ani, you will be lost if you don’t pray more.” In truth I prayed very little, and always reluctantly and with annoyance. You were undoubtedly right ... Prayer is the first step toward God. It is always decisive, especially prayer to her who is the Mother of God, whose name we are not permitted to say. Devotion to her draws innumerable souls away from the devil, souls whose sins would otherwise have cast them into his hands ...      Praying is the easiest thing on earth, and justly so, for God linked salvation to this simplest of actions. To those who pray assiduously, God grants, bit by bit, so much light and strength that even a drowning sinner is able to raise himself up definitively through prayer, even though he be immersed in mud up to his chest. In fact, in my last years of life I no longer prayed, and thus deprived myself of the graces without which no one can be saved." Link (https://www.americaneedsfatima.org/The-Last-Things/a-letter-from-beyond.html)

Daniel, if you do not wish to take even simple 15 minutes to pray 5 decades of the Rosary every day, which you should try to do, at least wear the Scapular, say an Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, the Glory Be, and some other short and simple prayers (even in your own words) whenever we can. It may well be a start and help you save your soul. We're discussing these things here only to help you save your soul in charity, and so we hope you will at least begin to do that. Jesus and Mary have shown a million times that they accept all who come to Them. God will give you His grace, blessings and help, if you call on the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary often, with love and reverence.

So to say praying to God is too risky and such things is a trap. A trap for your soul laid by the enemy. Pray, always pray. Even in simple words. Whenever you can. Speak to God as if He were your Father. Yes, God's Majesty is great and He is our King, but He is also our Most Loving Father. And so, in spite of our sins, God loves us and waits for us to call on Him, and if we do in sincere love, He comes to us. Jesus is our great High Priest and atoned for our sins; Mother Mary intercedes powerfully. Call on Jesus and Mary and you will know. Make one good confession and everything will be all right. Don't wait till it may be too late. Love God, do good, pray, and seek the Truth.

Quote
Even though I trod tortuous byways, God sought me out. I prepared the way for grace by means of works of natural charity I often did by the natural inclination of my character. At times, too, God beckoned me to a church. When, despite work at the office during the day, I took care of my sick mother, no small sacrifice for me, I strongly felt these attractions of God ... The pleasures of the world, however, flowed over this grace like a torrent. The thorns choked out the wheat. Rationalizing that religion is sentimentalism, according to the manner it was discussed in the office, I cast this grace to the ground, like so many others ... Once you reprimanded me because in church, rather than genuflecting, I made only a hasty nod of my head ... I already no longer believed in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. I now believe it, though only naturally, in the manner that one believes in a storm, the signs and effects of which one perceives ... In the interim, I had arranged a religion for myself. The general opinion in the office, that after death souls would return to this world in other beings and would pass through yet other beings in an endless succession, pleased me. With this, I banished the distressing problem of the hereafter to the point that it no longer troubled me. Why did you not remind me of the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus, in which the narrator, Christ, immediately after their deaths, sent one to Hell and the other to Paradise? But, what would this reminder have accomplished? Nothing more than your pious advice ... Bit by bit I found a god, one privileged enough to be called a god, and distant enough that I didn’t have to deal with him ...      Strange! On that very [final] morning, the idea that I could, after all, go to Mass again came to me unexpectedly. It sounded to me like a supplication. Clear and determined, my “No!” nipped the thought in the bud. I must finish with this once and for all, and I assumed all the consequences."
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 04, 2019, 07:40:24 AM
Quote
I don't know... maybe those trivial things do offend God.

But what's the solution? Seems to me that this is reason to just give up on God altogether. Just do whatever we want, and we'd probably also want to hate God, because He's a monster.
But you have something else in mind?

I am glad you asked.

You do the same thing you do about the rest of your life.  It is truly a possibility that any action you take could kill you - if you walk to the bathroom now and that's the moment an airplane engine crashes through onto the commode, then you are toast whereas you would not be had you remained here chatting with little old me.  But do you let this uncertainty paralyze you to the state that you grab a water bottle to relieve yourself in?  We all pray you don't.  And besides, perhaps if only you had gone to the bathroom, the meteorite which is about to land on your office chair would not have struck you down.  So inaction is no safe way out either.

Death is something you are absolutely certain about.  The old joke is about death and taxes, right?  Any action you take or do not take might result in this inevitable death and yet this paralyzes you not.  And as your lack of certainty in the outcome of your actions does not paralyze you, nor should your lack of absolute certainty paralyze your faith.  And paralysis and your wishy-washy position might be even more offensive to your hypothetical god than believing an untruth.  When we play the maybe game the sky's the limit.

My dad taught me one school lesson - I made an error doing math and he asked me why I did this.  I said I assumed this meant that.  He wrote down the word assume on the paper and said to me, "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me (ass  u   me)."  You are making all of these assumptions about this hypothetical god and, well, now you know what assuming does.  You are borrowing beliefs from Christianity without believing Christianity.  You think god wants you to love him, why?  You believe he cares about you, why?  You believe he'll judge you on this matter, why?  These are Catholic beliefs but then you reject Catholicism.  Like all other heresies, you borrow some, but reject the whole, and end up in a mess.

What to do.  Treat this quest for god as you would anything else.  Hold it to the same standards of uncertainty you would any other important decision you make.  Examine the evidence up and down.  If you think there is something there, then believe and live the faith.  Do not request of this these unimaginable standards of certainty (that are truly unimaginable, as our friend PDR at least states he cannot imagine what such certainty would even be like).  Taking Catholicism as an example, do you find the miracles to be supportive of the Church's claims?  How about the beauty of her history, her music, her liturgy, her culture (ignoring the abnormality of post VII)?  The stories of the saints, the lives changed?  Kreuzritter's mystical meeting?  My atheist philosopher friend (John C. Wright) turned Catholic after visits from Jesus and our Lady?

If you think this all looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck... then believe its a duck.  Then LIVE the faith, not THINK the faith, and see how that fits you.

Jesus brings peace.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on March 04, 2019, 09:52:06 AM
.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on March 04, 2019, 11:01:11 AM
If you think this all looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck... then believe its a duck.  Then LIVE the faith, not THINK the faith, and see how that fits you.
But this is the problem: it doesn't look like a duck. I don't find miracles to be all that convincing, and I see all sorts of other pieces of evidence indicating that the Catholic religion is probably just a manmade religion, not from God. If I were to just treat my religious beliefs like anything else then I'd have already abandoned the Catholic Church long ago, as soon as it started looking false. Maybe I'd become a Neoplatonist or something, or maybe I'd just give up on religion altogether. And maybe I'd return to the Catholic Church some day, if new evidence were to come to my attention to make me reconsider. But in the meantime there'd be no reason for me to take the Catholic Church seriously, and there'd be no sense in me allowing the Catholic Church to constantly disrupt my life with all its burdensome laws.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 04, 2019, 07:37:32 PM
It sounds like you have no belief in Catholicism.  Why are you interested in it then?  Are there some aspects that are still valuable to you, or is it just your paranoia of "what-ifs" that keeps you loosely attached?  If the former then let's discuss that.  If the latter then that's another animal.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on March 04, 2019, 08:14:15 PM
It sounds like you have no belief in Catholicism.  Why are you interested in it then?  Are there some aspects that are still valuable to you, or is it just your paranoia of "what-ifs" that keeps you loosely attached?  If the former then let's discuss that.  If the latter then that's another animal.
It's probably some mix of both, but primarily the latter. As I said before, I find some aspects to be appealing. But I highly suspect that Catholicism is not true. I have no definitive proof against Catholicism, but I do have a lot of evidence against Catholicism; I think it's morally wrong for a person to ignore the evidence and pretend that Catholicism is true, yet I also think it's morally wrong for a person to claim that the Catholicism is false without any proof.
edit - There's also the fear which the Catholic Church is imposing on me, basically telling me that I'm going to hell if I refrain from making a judgement despite the fact that I'm in no position to make such a judgement. For all I know, this fear is completely baseless. Yet because of this fear, I am unwilling to reject Catholicism.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 04, 2019, 10:05:57 PM
Daniel,

There are four options:  established religion, make it up as you go, agnostic, atheist.  There are no other options.  When you consider Catholicism, is the evidence against it so much so that its better to, perhaps, make it up as you go?  I'm still fairly young but I've seen enough to realize that tradition exists for very good reasons even if not at all obvious on the surface, and deviating from tradition often ends up in creating newer, bigger errors.  If you come across in a field an abandoned house that is sealed behind a locked fence with a sign "Do not enter" then its best not to enter, despite not knowing why one should not enter.  On a personal level, I myself moronically in my youth violated this in a very similar scenario - I was visiting Kinmen Island, a Taiwanese island off of the coast of mainland China, where there had been for a while some brief fighting ages ago.  The Taiwanese mined the coasts of the island.  When I visited there was a sign banning entry to the beautiful beach due to landmines, but I thought this was silly and went on it none the less (but I hopped from rock to rock, just in case!).

A few months later I visited again and there was a full bomb squad out on that very same beach combing it for mines.  As some were returning for a lunch break I asked one if they found any mines and he said yes, several.

This is not a tradition per say, but its a rule that existed for a reason that, at that time, I could not make sense of (beautiful tourist island, beautiful beaches, a trail leading right to the beach, and then one tiny sign warning of landmines, I assumed it was nonsense).  I would have been better off not going it on my own.

Very long run traditions exist for good reasons. There is enormous collective wisdom built up in them that is not easily explained, but its there.  Its easy to poke around the edges and criticize, its hard to explain the value of the tradition, and its often only after lifetime experiences that one internalizes and knows the value and truth held within the tradition.

We also have the benefit (though at our expense), of seeing what happens to society when it abandons its traditions and questions everything.  If you think the modern society is excellent then go join it.  If you think its an absolute pile of garbage then consider whether it always has been.  If it was once better, why was it better.  To me, I see that society was not always so wretched, and that it had been Catholicism that lifted man up out of squalor.  It is not the only thing that has lifted man out of his squalor, but it has far exceeded the rest in the beauty it brought forth.

But if this does not hold much stock with you, and the seeming flip on usury, or baptism of desire, or whatever other "gotcha" type thing there is far outstrips this, then that is most unfortunate.

I like to see results, I care little for theory.  For me, seeing the culture Catholicism brought forth, the saints its made, the pious lives it has inspired, the beautiful families raised under it, the goodness of its pious followers, that all to me is very powerful evidence that something very true is going on here.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Daniel on March 05, 2019, 08:52:49 PM
Davis Blank - EG,

Thanks for that explanation... I think I now better see where you're coming from. Your approach, then, is basically to choose the best side? You're basically saying that we should believe in whichever philosophy/religion we see to be good, because nothing else is worth believing in. And, having chosen a side, we then commit ourselves to it.

The problem I see is that this still seems to disregard truth. Because how do you know that you're on the right side? Is it not conceivable that, despite the appeal of the Catholic Church, and all the good that the Catholic Church has done, that the Catholic Church might still be wrong? But if truth is God, and if you are choosing the Catholic Church even at the expense of truth, then what you're doing is disregarding God... choosing the Catholic Church (which could possibly be evil) over God. That's how I'm seeing it at the moment, anyway.



Xavier,

Daniel, if you do not wish to take even simple 15 minutes to pray 5 decades of the Rosary every day, which you should try to do, at least wear the Scapular, say an Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, the Glory Be, and some other short and simple prayers (even in your own words) whenever we can. It may well be a start and help you save your soul. We're discussing these things here only to help you save your soul in charity, and so we hope you will at least begin to do that. Jesus and Mary have shown a million times that they accept all who come to Them. God will give you His grace, blessings and help, if you call on the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary often, with love and reverence.

So to say praying to God is too risky and such things is a trap. A trap for your soul laid by the enemy. Pray, always pray. Even in simple words. Whenever you can. Speak to God as if He were your Father. Yes, God's Majesty is great and He is our King, but He is also our Most Loving Father. And so, in spite of our sins, God loves us and waits for us to call on Him, and if we do in sincere love, He comes to us. Jesus is our great High Priest and atoned for our sins; Mother Mary intercedes powerfully. Call on Jesus and Mary and you will know. Make one good confession and everything will be all right. Don't wait till it may be too late. Love God, do good, pray, and seek the Truth.

But Xavier, how do you know that any of what you said is true? The subjective evidence that I've personally experienced suggests otherwise.

A few months ago, before I had sufficiently reasoned things through, a priest succeeded in getting me to pray to God. So I once prayed to God, more or less commanding God to reveal Himself to me. (In hindsight this was an evil prayer. See next paragraph.) But God gave me no answer then, nor any time since. I still do not possess knowledge of God's essence or even of His existence, nor knowledge of whether Jehovah is God or an imposter, whether Jesus is God or a deceiver, whether the Catholic Church is the true Church or a false church, whether there even is a revealed religion, etc..

But setting all these questions aside, it is clear that my prayer was not merely inefficate but that it positively offended God. Because it is not man's place to tempt God, or force His hand, or command Him like He's some sort of a genie or something.

But a deeper question is in the whole idea of vocal prayer and especially "prayers of petition". The fact is, if God's will is unchangeable then no amount of prayer is going to cause God to will anything which He does not already will. So why pray? Either God wills to give me what I need, or else He does not. God is omniscient; He reads our minds and hearts. He already knows what I need, and He already knows that I desire to receive it from Him if only He will give it to me. The only thing for me to do, then, is to hope in Him and wait things out. I'd say that this sort of resignation/devotion is itself a kind of prayer. It's not vocal or petitionary, but it seems like prayer. At least it makes a lot more sense than the seemingly-illogical 'prayers of petition' and the often-mindless/heartless 'vocal prayers'. (Of course, if God revealed otherwise, then I have no choice but to admit I'm in error. However, I do not know God to have revealed otherwise.)

But anyway, this all raises the question: if God knows that I need faith and contrition in order to be saved, and if He knows that I am resigned to His will and that I am willing to accept the faith and contrition if only He will give it to me, then what is going on? Why is God choosing to deprive me of what I need?
The Catholic Church's theology here is a mess... there's not even any one clear teaching.
Some theologians simply deny that God is depriving me of faith and contrition. But the evidence seems to refute them, seeing as I don't have faith or contrition (unless I'm to believe that God is surely going to give me these things at some unknown future time before my death? Seems a bit presumptuous...).
Other theologians provide a better answer: they say that I'm one of the unfortunate people among the massa damnata, whom God has chosen not to save. This is quite plausible, but it contradicts the Catholic Church's other claims that God is a merciful father who wants to save everybody and give everybody the knowledge of the truth. If God wants to save me, then He'd save me. Not deprive me of the means to forgiveness.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Davis Blank - EG on March 06, 2019, 02:50:44 AM
Quote
You're basically saying that we should believe in whichever philosophy/religion we see to be good... And, having chosen a side, we then commit ourselves to it.

Should it magically be different than the other millions of decisions, important or not, that we make throughout our lives?  I think some people are very hung up on the aspect of God giving us the faith.  I think people think of it as if its a switch inside a robot brain that God flicks on and then wham, the faith is activated, you now are forced into belief.  Let's just ignore for a moment the entire theology of God giving the faith.  Let's instead see what God did from purely human perspective - He sent a bunch of prophets and endowed them with miracle working abilities to prove that they speak for Him.  He then incarnated Himself and did the miracles Himself to show us that yes, He is the real deal.  Then when He left us He gave His successors miracle working capabilities to continue evidencing that this all is real.  Bleeding Eucharists, dancing suns, flying saints, stigmatas, whatever, it all serves the purpose of convincing people of the reality of what the Church teaches.

Do not get all hung up over the fancy theology.  Man believes through evidence.  God knows this (duh), and thus provides the evidence (miracles) for us such that we can believe.

Quote
The problem I see is that this still seems to disregard truth. Because how do you know that you're on the right side? Is it not conceivable that, despite the appeal of the Catholic Church, and all the good that the Catholic Church has done, that the Catholic Church might still be wrong? But if truth is God, and if you are choosing the Catholic Church even at the expense of truth, then what you're doing is disregarding God... choosing the Catholic Church (which could possibly be evil) over God. That's how I'm seeing it at the moment, anyway.

A couple things.

First, and...?  What is your plan of action?  You have four options, your objection does not change the reality that you are faced with these four options alone.  Are you thus going to go it alone?  I'd rather stick with the collective wisdom of the billions of my forefathers.  Maybe you are wiser and more experienced in life than all of those trillions of human man-hours, though.

Second, would you like to tell me how you know what the truth is?  Because as I'm sure you are aware, the deeper you analyze reality, the more you realize that what you know is all built upon axioms.  If you were, say, to throw out the axiom that your senses represent the truth, then you are to fall down a very deep chasm.  But why not throw it out?  How would you like to prove, beyond the shadow of a single doubt, absolutely positively really truly truly true that your senses represent the objective truth?  It's impossible, and the best we can do is take it as an axiom.  But if you are on this quest for super duper absolute undeniable cannot possibly be doubted 100% truth, then you are a new Sisyphus.  You can always doubt anything you want to doubt.  Your quest is insane.

You and I are here exchanging ideas and yet, for the life of me, I cannot comprehend what an idea even is.  What is an idea, where did it come from, why did it come, how did it come, where does it go when I no longer have it?  I am absolutely baffled when I think about what an idea is, or what thinking even is.  As I see it, we've got no clue about the most basic fundamentals underpinning all this fancy reasoning we are discussing.  Its like Wile-E-Coyote being troubled by an obstacle in his path up ahead when all the while he's running on air.  I don't see how you can demand to know the truth when you are hamstringed by not knowing what an idea is, what thinking is, or perpetually in doubt due to being forced to take as an axiom that sensory data is truthful.

You demand what is impossible, at least in this life.  Maybe in the Beatific Vision its possible, but who knows.

And so I loop back to my previous comments.  You have four choices.  Whether or not you have this impossible demand for knowing the truth does not change that you have these four choices.  What are you going to do?  Pick the best evidenced organized religion and live it, go it alone, say "f it, this is too confusing" and be agnostic, or reject it out right?  I see the latter three options as being complete disasters for civilization, that alone is evidence enough for me that they are wrong. 

By the way, since I think its relevant for your debacle, if you value my belief in the slightest, my guess is that EENS is indeed true, but that God will find a way to convert before death those with good hearts whom did not believe in Christ for intellectual reasons.   But I think most people do not have good hearts and thus its not applicable.  I also think believing in Christ vastly improves man's ability to extinguish the evil within his heart.

May God give you peace of mind.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Kreuzritter on March 06, 2019, 03:19:04 PM
Quote
But a deeper question is in the whole idea of vocal prayer and especially "prayers of petition". The fact is, if God's will is unchangeable then no amount of prayer is going to cause God to will anything which He does not already will. So why pray?
. That doesn’t follow. You’re confusing temporal mutability with cause. It’s entirely conceivable that my prayer serves as a reason for God willing something, absent which he would will otherwise, without any change implied (just as reprobates are willed to damnation on account of their sins, for the Quares among you who think this somehow violates God's nature via divine simplicity).
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Xavier on March 07, 2019, 01:44:45 AM
Quote from: Daniel
But Xavier, how do you know that any of what you said is true? The subjective evidence that I've personally experienced suggests otherwise. A few months ago, before I had sufficiently reasoned things through, a priest succeeded in getting me to pray to God. So I once prayed to God, more or less commanding God to reveal Himself to me. (In hindsight this was an evil prayer ...

Yes, it is an evil prayer to try to command His Divine Majesty; Angels bow in worshipful reverence before God. Don't be rash. But God is ready and willing to pay the price for this sin, and to pardon all your faults, if but you turn to Him in Confession and say to His Priests, Mea Culpa. Bishops and Priests are the Representatives of His Majesty, Christ our King - also Himself both High Priest and Sacrifice - upon this Earth, please go to them, and follow their directions in the confessional, and you can be sure you are doing God's Will, and will save your soul if you do. But don't stay away.

Dear Daniel, Christ Our Lord, by the Super-Abundance of His Mercy, by the Satisfaction He made for us in His own Blood, has made Salvation easy and simple for all of us, if only we really wish to be saved. What is easier than to go to Mass at least once a week, confess our sins at least once a month, pray at least for 15-20 mins during the day, and offer up all the work we do as a a sacrifice of love to God? It will be a labor full of consolation, and a means to acquire a treasury of merit in Heaven, and benefit others, and have God's blessing on it. St. Joseph is the model of labor for love of God.

Please begin to do this, and don't fall again into these crippling doubts and this insane agnosticism which will ruin your soul if you persist in it.

How do I know? Daniel, I know God is more real than the air we breathe and the visible reality we see around us - and please note, I'm not by any means defending an anti-realism some may have fallen into, but I am only saying the visible reality we see is only a small spectrum of the entire spectrum of reality that the Blessed Saints and Angels in Heaven perceive in the Light of God. When I receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, when I adore His Majesty in Holy Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, the Lord God confirms to me in a way you will only discern when you know by experience - and I know, and from Fr. Mueller's book posted earlier, you can read, that this has been the experience also of hundreds of millions of other Catholics down throughout the centuries; all that is beside Eucharistic and other miracles, including the miracle of His Resurrection, and the millions upon millions of people who have actually seen and experienced the Risen Christ, including many Muslims and others - that He is more real than every other real thing in the whole Universe.

The Our Father is the most beautiful of prayers, taught by the Lord God Himself, and all who say it and believe in Jesus will be accepted by Him and receive or be renewed in the grace of adoption as sons of the Eternal Father. It is a privilege to call God, "Our Father, which the Lord makes possible for us by His goodness. You say you would be afraid to go to the King. If the Prince comes to you and gives you a prayer Himself, will you so despise His goodness and Truth that you will refuse to pray the words of that simple prayer? Will you call Him a liar, even after He has worked so many wonders and marvels especially in His Eucharist for 20 Centuries, and still does today?

The Hail Mary is the most sublime of prayers. You will win the Heart of the Mother of God and Her powerful intercession on your behalf - like a new Queen Esther, whose intercession saved Israel; like brave Judith, who crushed Holofernes, like so many other Biblical types - simply by saying it often with childlike simplicity and loving reverence toward the Queen of Angels, before Whom all Heaven bows with the veneration of Hyperdulia, with the Holy Angels frequently chanting the Angelic Salutation, and the Saints praising the Mother of God.

By all means, pray in your own words also, with goodness and sincerity of heart, speaking lovingly to your Father, reverently to your King.

I will tell you a simple Novena which if you practice and complete, with desire to love God and grow in His Grace, I can promise you, your doubts and difficulties will vanish in the end; for the Lord promised, "22 ... they will never be tormented by anxiety or doubt.", and I can tell you by experience this Great Novena works and is powerful. https://sites.google.com/site/doublegreatnovena/the-33-promises

It consists simply in going to Mass, after Confession and a good preparation, on 9 First Fridays and Saturdays, to make reparation for sin.

You may well pray, "Jesus, you have said you will clear the doubts of those who make this Novena. I'm going to make it. Help clear my doubts!" and then go ahead and do it.
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Geremia on May 15, 2019, 02:15:50 PM
Why not hedonism? Because spiritual goods are superior:
Fr. Garrigou.-Lagrange, O.P.'s Life Everlasting (https://isidore.co/calibre/#panel=book_details&book_id=5870) (pt. 1, §3 "Soul Immensity and Beatific Vision"):
Quote
Following St. Gregory the Great, St. Thomas writes: Temporal goods appear desirable when we do not have them; but when we do have them, we see their poverty, which cannot meet our desire and which therefore produces disillusion, lassitude, and often repugnance. In spiritual goods the inverse is true. They do not seem desirable to those who do not have them and who desire especially sensible good. But the more we possess them the more we know their value and the more we love them.4 For the same reason, material goods, the same house, the same field, cannot belong simultaneously and integrally to many persons. Spiritual goods, on the contrary, one and the same truth, one and the same virtue, can belong simultaneously and completely to all. And the more perfectly we possess these goods, the better we can communicate them to others.5 This is especially true of the sovereign good.
 
  • Ia IIae, q.31, a.5 (https://isidore.co/aquinas/summa/FS/FS031.html#FSQ31A5THEP1); q.32, a.2 (https://isidore.co/aquinas/summa/FS/FS032.html#FSQ32A2THEP1); q.33, a.2 (https://isidore.co/aquinas/summa/FS/FS033.html#FSQ33A2THEP1).
  • Ia IIae, q. 28, a.4 (https://isidore.co/aquinas/summa/FS/FS028.html#FSQ28A4THEP1) ad 2; IIIa, q. 23, a. 1 (https://isidore.co/aquinas/summa/TP/TP023.html#TPQ23A1THEP1) ad 3.
See also SCG III qq. 26 (https://isidore.co/aquinas/ContraGentiles3a.htm#26)-44, where he addresses questions like "That human felicity does not consist in pleasures of the flesh," "That ultimate felicity does not lie in the act of prudence," "That felicity does not consist in the operation of art," ending with (q. 37) "That the ultimate felicity of man consists in the contemplation of God." But he goes further, arguing "That human felicity does not consist in the knowledge of God gained through demonstration" and even that "Human felicity does not [even] consist in the knowledge of God which is through faith"!
Title: Re: Why not hedonism?
Post by: Non Nobis on May 15, 2019, 09:14:07 PM
And the ultimate happiness that that is possible in this life even by Saints in contemplation scarcely compares to what is reached in the Beatific Vision:

"...there is nothing in this life so like this ultimate and perfect felicity as the life of those who contemplate truth, to the extent that it is possible in this life. And so, the philosophers who were not able to get full knowledge of this ultimate happiness identified man’s ultimate happiness with the contemplation which is possible in this life. On this account, too, of all other lives the contemplative is more approved in divine Scripture, when our Lord says: “Mary has chosen the better part,” namely, the contemplation of truth, “which shall not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42) . In fact, the contemplation of truth begins in this life, but reaches its climax in the future..." SCG III qq. 63

Even a Saint like St. Martha who does not strictly speaking live the higher contemplative life on earth will go on to contemplate God in heaven. She did not have the greatest possible happiness on earth (the better part), but had she practiced hedonism she would ultimately have had no happiness at all.

Of course all Saints contemplate God to some extent, even when they cannot focus all their attention on it, or do it as well as others who have chosen "the better part".