Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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Not a rock and roll song, but Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" is one of my favorites.


And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

We probably did drift sort of aimlessly without the old value system of our parents but when I realized how bankrupt that system was I knew I had to find a new value system

Flawed? Yes. Deeply in some places? Absolutely. Bankrupt? Hardly. My guess is that your new value systems looks a lot like the old value system, save for a more progressive view on human rights, which could have only developed because of the basic moral foundation of the old system--all people are created equal, yadda, yadda.

as a Catholic, I was forced to reject Catholicism by the sexual predators who were running the church while condemning decent people who happened to be gay.

Forced? Actually, you made a choice. I am Catholic not because of the sanctity of any people running the Church, but what I believe to be the ultimate and timeless truths that it promotes that supersede the human sins and transgressions of its members. For me all the sins of the church throughout the ages do not negate the simplest instance of the sacraments--no more than all the corruption of a government make me disbelieve in the democracy or the need to participate in our government, nor all the abuses of teachers make me disbelieve in education or sending my kids to school. I would be a very poor Catholic, indeed, if my faith in God and his Church rested on the people running it rather than the ideals that formed it. People come and go; the Church blunders and triumphs, then blunders and triumphs again; my faith in it and God is not to be found in its successes nor cast away in its failings. It is always to be found in the underlying truth. This is a constant.

You focus on the leprosy that afflicts the Church and reject it in its entirety as unclean thus requiring banishment. But no matter how widespread and deep the illness is, I never let it stop me from seeing the person. After all, illnesses are often healed.

On this Good Friday, we Christians, and we Catholics, would do well to remember that forgiveness is the greatest value of our faith. Our innate goodness, the spark of the divine in all of us, makes it available to even the most brutal human being. If God can extend it out to us, the least we can do is extend it out to ourselves on every level of our society.

After all to paraphrase St. Augustine, the church not a museum of saints, but a school for sinners.

If we are made in the image of God then we should be able to understand Him at least a little. Or is it possible that we can never know God's mind? Then God is nothing like us.

It is arguable that we do understand him a little.. At least this is the argument of theologians such as Thomas Aquinas. Because God is the ordering principle behind all things, our god given ability to rationalize points us in the direction of God, but our limited reason alone can not get one there. Reason can only help prepare us to accept grace and divinely reveal truth. Faith must take us the rest of the way.

Typical Religulous cop out and avoidance of the discussion of reason when there is no logical answers. Something might seem "mysterious" to lesser beings if they do not have enough information. It is perfectly understandable that if there is a God that some of His ways WOULD seem mysterious to lesser beings. But, as more and more information is made available to those lessor beings then many of those ways should become less and less Mysterious. Not more.

Personally, I believe the universe grows in complexity in response to our observing it. It's turtles all the way up and down. Because we understand knowledge to be breaking things down into separate causes and effects and entities--ever smaller or bigger there will always another layer above or below to observe. But the universe is not God, as God cannot be broken down. Moreover our understanding the complexities of the universe is not tantamount to understanding God. Thus learning more about the universe reveals more about the creation, not necessarily about the creator.

Above all it is not a cop out of the (what was the intentionally pejorative term?) the religulous (clever). It is a logical conclusion when comparing a limitless rational being with a limited one.

Argument ad Populum
Millions of people agree with your viewpoint, therefore it must be true?

No, no, no, you missed my point. I am not arguing that God exists because millions believe. I am arguing that the that millions, perhaps billions, believe that God communicates with them. This can be taken two ways. Either God exists and is communicating with these people. Or God does not exist and these people are delusional. My point was that if you agree with the latter then you must conclude that by the sheer number of people that are delusional that there is something about human nature that makes us prone to delusions. If this is true then what epistemology is immune? After all, people who you might think are delusional most likely consider themselves quite rational. Do you consider yourself quite rational? How do you know you are not deluded?

If you are hearing a God or Gods speak to you I would suggest you get that looked into.

Oh please, you can do better than this tired simplistic argument. For the vast majority of religious people, "speaks" is metaphorical. Religious people believe God speaks--communicates to us--in a variety of ways. We may assign divine communication to our perceiving of coincidences which strike us a significant or a sudden flash of insight that may come to us, etc.--not to voices in our head as if we are having some kind of psychotic episode.

Interestingly, I have read that some scientists attribute consciousness to be a mere by product of physical interactions in the brain--that it is in fact an illusion. It actually does not exist. If so, then perhaps your own voice in you head doesn't really exist. I would advise you not to listen to it then or perhaps you should get your delusional belief that your consciousness exists looked into.

Don't they ever stop to think and maybe figure out than an all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent being shouldn't have such a hard time communicating with us?

What a great question! I know it was most likely a rhetorical one, but here are the possible answers:

1. Because it should be easier for him to communicate with us and has not made it so, there actually is no God.

2. God could communicate with us all in a more direct manner, but has some reason for not doing so.

3. Our nature (either innate or due to some corrupting factor) limits our ability to hear clearly his communication.

So, either there is no God, the limited nature of communication is determined by God, or the limited nature of communication is or was determined by us.

There are strengths and weakness in all these explanations, of course.

The strengths of number one is that it offers what appears to be the simplest explanation. Its weakness is that it is a non sequitor. Moreover, it equates human rationalization with that of a being in which it defines in a way that is so very non human. How can we with our very limited nature presume to assert what an omniscient and omnipotent being should do? It would be like an ant presuming to question the motives of a man. And with that analogy we are even closer in our nature to an ant than God is to a man. Though this answer may be the one for the atheist, it actually commits the cardinal sin that atheists attribute to theists--anthropomorphizing a deity. God does't act the way we humans would or believe he should; therefore, there cannot be a God.

The strength of number two accounts for the weakness of the first explanation. God acts in ways that are only known to God and may very well be incomprehensible to us mere mortals. One possible explanation in support of this has to do with free will. The more we have direct knowledge of God, of pure goodness, the more difficult it is for us to choose anything but. The weakness of this argument, however, is that it offers no understandable reason as to why a being whom some claim always has our best interest in mind seems so aloof.

The strength of number three is that it accepts as reality the many accounts of millions of people who claim that God has spoken directly to them in various ways--even if the manner seems unclear. To dismiss their claims out of hand is to claim they are all deluded. If millions and millions of human beings many who are rational in many areas of their life are this easily deluded then delusion is arguably a component of human nature itself. If true then this undercuts the basis for all kinds of knowledge--not just spiritual--even rational understanding. If deluded people are unaware that they are deluded, how do you know you are not deluded about anything?! Human beings clearly have limitations when it comes to knowledge, the strength of the third argument takes into account those limitations. It also dovetails nicely with the myth of Genesis. Our own actions estrange us from God, rather than the other way around.

The weakness of number three is that in life we have to accept that something in this world is knowable (otherwise the pursuit of knowledge comes to a dead stop) and since God by definition is the most ubiquitous something-- as his hand is in everything--we should have some ability to know him easily enough.

I think your inclination to any one of these explanations is based upon the assumptions one already brings to the question.

BTW--I love the headline and its reference to Yeat's "Second Coming." What a great poem!

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