Category Archives: Philosophy of Religion

The Problem of Evil as the Cornerstone of a Christian World View

As links reveal, this post coheres with efforts to find foundations for divine command morality. A factor of my motivation for understanding morality as based on divine commands is to understand retributive punishment. I believed that retributive punishment is crucial to understand the Christian world view that evil has been introduced by God’s creatures which God in His love for His creatures will correct. A Christian world view is a plausible account of what it would be like for line 11 below to be true.

A significant challenge to prevailing secular world views is to show that an intelligible line of thought in philosophical theology leads to claims well explained by the Christian world view.

1. We cannot imagine experiencing reality without physical and moral evil.

2. If God is omnipotent, all good and the sole creator of reality, then reality is without physical and moral evil.

3. So, if God is omnipotent, all good and the sole creator of reality, then reality of which God is the sole creator is a reality which we cannot imagine experiencing.

4. We can, because of our experience, only too well imagine experiencing reality with physical and moral evil.

5. So, God is either not ominpotent or not all good or not the sole creator of the reality as we experience reality.

6. If God exists, God is ominpotent and all good.

7. God exists .

8. Hence, God is not the sole creator of reality as we experience it.

9. If God is not the sole creator of reality as we experience it , then the other creators are less than God and have been created with God’s permission to be subsidiary creators of reality as we experience it.

10. If God has delegated creation of reality as we experience it to subsidiary creators, He had a good reason for delegating creative activity and has a good reason for correcting the experienced reality produced by susidiary creators.

11. So, ultimately there will be a correction of reality as we experience it although we cannot imagine experiencing it!

Some remarks on the lines of the argument:

On line (1): An observation in a homily by my pastor, Fr, Matt Hoover, gave me the insight that we pose the problem of evil but have no clear idea of what would solve it.

On line 9: I have sketched out how Satan could be the primary subsidiary creator.

Moral Gravity and Forgiveness of Original Sin

Moral Gravity and Forgiveness of Original Sin

I use this topic to speculate on the Christian Paschal mystery. I try to show that taking gravity -the seriousness – of an offense as an intrinsic feature of the offense is a theologically rich concept although in secular thinking gravity of an offense is extrinsic.

A fruitful opening question runs “Is an intrinsically grave wrong forgivable?” We turn away from legal and ordinary moral thinking because there are no intrinsically grave acts for those ways of thinking. For in legal and everyday moral thinking gravity depends upon the harm done by the act and the intention of the actor to do harm in the circumstance.

In the previous post, it was proposed that by interpreting moral rules as divine commands, we might be able to develop a concept of intrinsically grave wrong. Consider the following working definition.

An act is an intrinsically grave wrong if it is direct disobedience of a command of God. In the Judaic-Christian myth, Eve’s eating the apple was a grave wrong despite the triviality of eating an apple and Eve’s good intention to attain knowledge of good and evil. On the tempter’s suggestion, she directly with full consent of her will disobeyed God’s command. Adam endorsed and participated in the disobedience. So, at our beginning, humanity, represented by Adam and Eve, has directly willed to disobey God’s commands. So, from our beginning we are guilty of grave wrongs. For what Adam and Eve’s choice represents is each of us, except Mary mother of Jesus, accepting as a live option choosing evil – defiance of God – as a means to good.

How can God forgive us for that?

Consideration of what is involved in direct defiance of God, shows what might be needed to forgive such a wrong. Direct disobedience of a command of God is to will not to be as God wills us to be. However, willing not to be as God wills us to be is to will not to be at all. For what God does not will is nothing. So, Adam and Eve willed not to be – that is total evil: complete lack of any being.

I am using a command theory of morality in which choice of wrong requires retributive punishment.

Choice of wrong is choice to have a good inhibited. In general, the retributive punishment for choice of a good not to be is to be deprived of the good one chose to inhibit i.e., not to be. For instance, the apt retributive punishment for choosing death for another in murder is to lose one’s own life. So, in the case of Adam and Eve’s choice of not to be, the suitable retributive punishment is not to be. But, in this model of original sin, based on the Adam and Eve myth, Adam and Eve chose for humanity. The punishment, then, would be the annihilation of humanity.

God forgave Adam and Eve, viz., humanity, by not requiring of us the evil of annihilation that we have chosen. But how might God have forgiven the punishment? God gave humanity free will. Humanity used free will to choose not to be. Letting the choice of a free will come about is a great good because free will is a great good. So, God would not hinder the choice of humanity to be annihilated. But annihilation of humanity would be an evil – lack of being for all humans. God loves, wills the good, of humans. So, God wills that human not be annihilated as they have chosen.

How can God protect us from our punishment of annihilation which we have chosen? God becomes incarnate as a the human Jesus. In Jesus’ execution, human nature was annihilated as a punishment, Jesus’ death was more than our deaths. Jesus’s death was total annihilation. Jesus suffered exceedingly. As a man he suffered horrible biological death on the cross. After biological death, he suffered the total evil -non being- of annihilation which is hell. Only God who sustains all things in being could have had human nature annihilated, kept humans in existence and then re-created human nature.

Imperishability of the Human Soul

The human soul makes a human animal a supernatural being as well as a natural being.

That which makes a human animal supernatural is its moral capacity to know the good and freely choose it. Knowing the good is bipartite. First, there is knowing the basic natural human goods, Second, there is knowing that which the basic human goods are good for. The natural goods are also bipartite. First, there are those conditions which make for human flourishing. Second, there is being the kind of person who freely chooses these conditions for human flourishing. Since basic human goods are goals as well as natural conditions, knowledge of goods as good give humans purposes. Purposes are goods which are intentionally sought. Knowing what basic human goods are good for gives humans a purpose for living itself. But purposes are not part of nature when we think of nature from the perspective of evolutionary theory as we are doing here. So, our having purposes makes us supernatural beings as well as natural beings even if most of our goods are natural conditions.

This capacity for knowing the good is a moral capacity because we can freely choose to act against attainment of what is good. But the fundamental law of morality is “Choose what is good!” With knowledge of what is good and free will comes obligation. We could say that it is having obligations which places us in both the natural and supernatural.

It must be emphasized that exercise of the capacity to know and pursue the good depends upon physiological states of an individual human but this moral capacity is not any physiological state or capacity. It is an additional feature that enables physiological states and capacities to be used in intentionally knowing and choosing what is good. Individuals with severe cognitive capacities still have this moral capacity although unable to exercise it. Individuals receive this moral capacity – the human soul – when they began to be human, which is at conception.

This moral capacity is essential to the human species even if it did not arise by natural selection. This means that in a thought experiment in which humans from the period when humanity began, off-spring of these ancient humans due to mating with contemporary humans would have all of the basic moral concepts we have now. See Natural and Supernatural Origin.

The soul of an individual human is that individual’s capacity to know and pursue what is good.

Why claim that the soul of a human is imperishable? Why claim that the soul of a human does not cease to exist at biological death. Why claim that the soul of a human does not cease to exist when there is no body to form into a moral agent? I give a Kantian answer.

A human being is morally perfect if that person becomes the kind of person who freely chooses the natural goods. Amongst these natural goods is being morally perfect.

Consider, now, these brief syllogisms. The justification for (1) is given above when it was pointed out that our natural goods are obligatory goods. Premiss (2) is an alleged truth of logic.

Syllogism I

1. A person ought to be morally perfect.
2. What ought to be can be.
3. If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect ceased to be at biological death, that person cannot be morally perfect.
Hence: (4) A person’s capacity to be morally perfect cannot cease to be at biological death.

Syllogism II

5. If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect were never embodied after biological death, that person’s capacity to be morally perfect could never be exercised after biological death
6. If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect could never be exercised after biological death, that person cannot be morally perfect.
Hence: (7) If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect were never embodied after biological death, that person cannot be morally perfect.
Using (1) and (2) above, we can conclude:
8. A person’s capacity to be morally perfect – a person’s soul- is embodied some time after biological death.

Note that if a person attained moral perfection that person cannot cease to be. For what ought to be cannot cease to be. If what ought to be ceased to be something which ought to be could no longer be.

The Natural Evolutionary Origin Plus Supernatural Origin of Humanity

It is logically consistency to accept a complete naturalistic evolutionary origin of homo sapiens or homo sapiens-sapiens and still posit a supernatural origin of humanity. I follow some in using homo sapiens-sapiens to admit the prospect of human intelligence itself needing an evolutionary account. I write of a complete naturalistic origin to emphasize that the supernatural origin is not introduced to fill any gaps in the naturalistic evolutionary account. The supernatural should not be introduced to answer any question which could be answered naturalistically. From here on, I will write simply of evolutionary accounts and not use modifiers such as “naturalistic” or “by natural selection.”

What do I accept by granting that there is a complete evolutionary account of the origin of homo sapiens? I give the answer of a non-scientist who sooner or later faces the question “What do you accept or reject by accepting or rejecting an evolutionary explanation of humanity?”

There are two parts to my answer. The first sketches a model which finds a place for empirical evidence to support theories that species, some still existing, evolved by natural selection. The second part presents an imaginary scenario of what it means for the species we are now to be the same species as one existing thousands of years ago.

Perhaps a million or more years ago one particular breeding population in the genus homo, which I label A, flourished and grew. Some members of A would mate with members of other homo populations, which I label B, C, D. Genetic and environmental factors were not favorable for the flourishing and growth of B, C, D despite interbreeding with A. B, C, & D gradually became extinct.

Of course, my sketch is very “sketchy.” Over the thousands and thousands of years B, C & D have had successor populations which have bred, more or less successfully, with other populations, including successors of A. In the end though, all but the successors of A have become extinct.

Only A still exists in the sense that a path down from the present through a tree structure of branches ending before the present, leads from the present to A. The nodes at base of branches on the tree are species; not individuals. It is a branch which has not yet reached its tip.

The genuine hard scientific work lies in tracing such a pathway in the fossil and archaeological data. It is not always clear when they are on the pathway. For instance, do these tool-like rocks clearly indicate A’s? Most likely there can be no specification of a definite time for the origin of A’s. Individuals but not populations have definite origin times. But there can be a bracket of, perhaps, a few thousand years before which there were no A’s but within which A’s appeared. Perhaps, the beginning point of the bracket was fifty to forty thousand years ago.

It should be emphasized that the scientific program is not for explaining the origin of individual members of a species. If one accepts evolution, as I do, it is tempting to believe that there is a “family tree” tracing me back to a breeding pair of humans at a definite time before which there were no humans. But the scientific program is guided by a model of a “species tree.”

Also, it should be emphasized that evolutionary accounts face all of the mind-body problems of any scientific study of contemporary humans. The relation of human thought and feeling, collective as well as individual, to their physiological correlates in the nervous system of individuals, are unexplained in any study of humans.

There is a sexual or reproductive dimension to believing that a species long ago is the same species as ours. This is the requirement that, in general, individuals can reproduce fertile offspring if and only if they are of the same species. There is no way that such a test can be conducted with individuals thousands of years apart. So, I will indulge in a thought experiment.

Suppose somehow a male and female of ancient A had been frozen or preserved in some fashion so that they can now be revived and be sexually active here and now in the twenty first century. Let’s call them Ancient Man and Ancient Woman. They should be able to have offspring by mating with people of the twenty first century. Suppose Ancient Man mates with a contemporary woman Mary and she gives birth to a daughter Clara. Clara should grow up to have all of the cognitive abilities and technical skills of any other child of our century. This means, amongst many other things, that Clara could learn to speak English. Suppose further, Ancient Woman mates with a contemporary male Dick and Ancient Woman becomes pregnant and bears a son Tom. Just like Clara, Tom would be born with the ability to learn the cognitive and technical skills of the twenty first century. To be sure, there would be physical features which set Clara and Tom apart from typical twenty first century people. Almost certainly, they would have smaller body size. Over the centuries, natural selection changes many features of a species without leading to a new species. However, in this thought experiment the prediction is that if Clara and Tom breed with typical twenty first people and then the offspring of these children mate with typical twenty first people the physical differences will be significantly modified to match human features of our century.

The above is my attempt to specify what I admit when I claim to accept that the scientific community has the correct research program for giving a naturalistic explanation of the origin of the human species, indeed for the origin of any species.

The question of whether or not members of this species have been given a purpose or goal for their lives is not, and ought not be, even raised in the evolutionary account. So, it is consistent with this naturalistic account to claim that humans as beings with a purpose began when God specified that each man and woman has the goal of living to know, love and serve Him while living so that they can be happy with Him after biological death.

Of course, consistency is far from significant, let alone true. So, the further questions concern motivation and justification for supernatural claims.

Almost All Religious Truth Claims are Possibly True!

What narratives and reports can be true? All logically consistent narratives and reports can be true. But almost all are false, inadequate, or misleading.

For simplicity’s sake, I restrict myself to narratives intended to be an account of what exists. I set aside reports of what ought to be morally and narratives which are indicated by a phrase such as “once upon a time” or context that there is no intent to narrate what is the case. However, any of these fairy tales and myths could be true!

I mention the moral only in passing as it being part of the natural order.

All narratives are representations. A true representation tells the order and connection of existing things in themselves as that order and connection is to be represented. Hence, a true narrative tells of the order and connection of existing things in themselves as that order and connection is to be represented. We have no non-representational access to things in themselves. Hence, we are not entitled to specify what can or cannot exist. We can, assuming realism, articulate two assumptions. First, things in themselves and our representations of them comprise what exists, reality or as I have written “the immanent. Second, the immanent depends upon the Transcendent for existence. The Transcendent lies even further beyond our comprehension than the created things in themselves. Hence, we are in no position to declare that the Transcendent could not have created, viz., have dependent upon It for existence, things in themselves which would be aptly described by the narratives which are generally thought to be only myths or vulgar superstitions.

I am disgusted by the nightmare possibilities amongst the possible imagined realities After years of reflection on how the truth claims of an actual religion, such as my Catholicism, are possibly true requires recognition of a supernatural order. In my mid-thirties, I converted from cultural Catholicism by the aid of a quasi-religious experience that I could be a genuine believing Catholic by professing only theological doctrines while suppressing a philosophical belief that there is no supernatural order. The philosophical struggle to write this post forced me to abandon my suppressed naturalism. My assumption of a demystified Catholicism has been a useful crutch which I no longer need.

As the prefix “super” indicates, the supernatural will be characterized as in tension with the natural. The characterizations of the supernatural and natural are not offered as rigorous definitions for a philosophical treatise.

The supernatural order is bipartite. One part is in things in themselves. The other part lies in our representations. Within things in themselves, the supernatural order comprises the existents which are properly, or improperly, described by religious narratives , or, more generally: narratives about the physical or natural. Within representations there are all the possibilities narrated by legends, myths, sacred writings etc., Prior to being given in faith or somehow discovering which religious narrative best represents the religious existents, I must concede that the possibility presented by some dark and horrible narrative best describes the religious existents. All the silly zombie stuff could be true! Disgusting! Such frightening stupidity ertainly motivates some to seek solace in atheistic naturalism.

The supernatural order is not transcendent. The supernatural is immanent. The natural is also immanent. Both representations of religious significant objects and processes and the things in themselves justifying or refuting religious representations are immanent realities dependent upon the Transcendent for existence.

The natural order is tripartite. The first part comprises representations developed with the implicit or explicit intention of representing reality as being in principle completely intelligible by a careful use of human intelligence. This careful use of human intelligence is the honorific sense of reason as correct reason.

These representations of nature split the natural into the physical and moral. The representations of the physical are representations of that which does not represent. Nothing physical operates for the sake of anything else. The representation of the moral are representations of humans seeking what is good in accordance with rules. Nature would not be properly characterized by splitting representations into those of the physical and mental. Mental is too broad of a notion because because representations of the supernatural includes representations of thinking beings. The natural order is to be separated from the supernatural in our understanding. This does not mean that the supernatural cannot affect the natural. It means that the natural and supernatural have to be understood as separated. Indeed it would not make sense to talk of a supernatural intervention if the supernatural were not different from the natural. The third part of the natural order consists of the things in themselves by virtue of which such representations are true or false. Even idealists who hold that there are only representations seek some way to define a natural order in their systems.

Naturalism goes further than accepting a natural order. Naturalists reject the possibility of a supernatural order. I am leaving behind my implicit naturalism to make room for religious truth by accepting the logically consistent position of there being both a supernatural and natural order.

This tremendous philosophical shift is enough for one post.

Atheism vs the Transcendent

In my previous post,Immanence of the Transcendent I maintained that religious propositions are objectively true or false if and only if the Transcendent is immanent as truth conditions for such propositions.

I further observed that it is not inconsistent to maintain that the Transcendent is immanent as truth conditions. It would be inconsistent to say that the Transcendent is immanent without qualification. But I have qualified the Transcendent as being truth conditions. The Transcendent preserves its transcendence of our understanding by existing as truth conditions. Truth conditions make true or false propositions using our human ways of representing. But we can never think of how those truth conditions are apart from our ways of representing.

I had to concede, though, that the Transcendent as truth conditions does not transcend existence. Truth conditions exist. They are “in the world.”

How might an atheistic critique of my position proceed?

Of course, there could be rejection of the argument for the Transcendent.See . This might be a challenge to the meaningfulness of asking “On what does everything existing depend upon for its existence?”

However, accepting a transcendent beyond anything existing or comprehensible is no threat to atheism. It leaves room only for mysticism which holds and practices nothing beyond interior states of mystics. Religious threats to atheism arise when we try to go beyond total transcendence.

How have I gone beyond accepting total transcendence?

There were attempts to characterize the transcendent as the Transcendent creator and sustainer of features of what exists – the immanent. Traditional arguments for God’s existence were presented as characterizing the Transcendent.

Atheists could dismiss these efforts as worthless for showing that religious propositions are objectively true or false. At best these efforts would get, amongst philosophers and theologians, agreement on some characterizations about the Transcendent as warranted beliefs. In trying to characterize the Transcendent, we do seek only consensus on what is an apt characterization, not objective truth.

I have maintained that the Transcendent be immanent as truth conditions for religious propositions.

This position relies on a “Kantian” realism that truth conditions exist as things in themselves transcending our ways of thinking.

An atheist could reject this model of realism. But I do not think this is philosophically viable.

An atheist could stay a realist but hold that there need be no truth conditions for religious propositions because there really are no religious propositions. Properly understood, the so-called religious propositions say something else which is not a truth claim or a truth claim about something other than what speakers think they are talking about. This roughly describes reductionist critique of religion.

An atheist could accept some type of idealism about truth. In this case the atheist would give arguments to persuade people that there is no reason to warrant any religious belief.

The atheistic critiques of my position bring out that the introduction of God as the Transcendent does little or nothing towards responding to atheistic criticism of religious belief. At most it shows that atheists with a metaphysical temperament can be mystics and should concede that traditional arguments for God’s existence are legitimate philosophical efforts to construct a model of transcendence.

Religious apologetics remains as always. We need to show that religious propositions are genuine truth claims about a special subject matter and that many religious claims warrant belief because genuinely accepting them as true promotes human flourishing.

Religiosity and the Transcendent

We talk of God, the Transcendent ,in both philosophy and religion, in speculation and in prayer. What is the best way?

Repetition of my philosophic recipe for constructing concepts of properties to project upon the Transcendent is useful for the following comparison of philosophic and religious ways of talking of the Transcendent.

1. Argue, or merely claim, that an immanent feature exists independently of anything else in what is immanent.
2. Argue, or merely claim, that this independent feature exists contingently.
3. From these two conclude that the existence of this immanent feature is directly dependent on the Transcendent.
4. Under the assumption “ if the existence of X depends directly upon Y, then we can characterize Y as having something analogous to the properties of X”, we modify descriptions of properties of the immanent feature to characterize the Transcendent.

Here I merely claim that the immanent feature of human religiosity meets the conditions for being directly dependent for its existence on the Transcendent. I use an elementary “World Religions Course” four Cs sketch of human religiosity. People seeking the meaning of life with a sense of the holy form Churches, formulate Creeds and Codes while having Cults or set of ritual practices. My elementary “World Religions” sketch of religiosity leaves so much undone because I want to move immediately to the relation between philosophic attempts to characterize the Transcendent and religious attempts to characterize the Transcendent.

Characterizing the Transcendent is an essential property of human religiosity. It is an essential property of religiosity, in the sense that at least the “seed” of a Creed is every religion. I think that it was the anthropologist, Evans Pritchard, who claimed that primitive religions are danced; not believed. But I think what is permissible and impermissible in the dancing -Cultic practice- would reveal some thoughts about the “whatever” which is holy.

From the philosophic perspective we say that religiosity is directly dependent upon the Transcendent. So, from the philosophic perspective we try to develop descriptions of properties applicable to the Transcendent from descriptions of properties of human religiosity. For instance, we may try to describe the holiness of the Transcendent from a modification of the human sense of holiness.

At first glance, philosophy’s role of developing characterizations of the Transcendent from religious ways of characterizing the Transcendent seems to put philosophy in a superior position with respect to characterizing the Transcendent.

But philosophy’s role is not superior and may even be dependent upon religiosity in characterizing the Transcendent. Religiosity leads philosophers to their attempts to characterize the Transcendent. It is leading me. When I work seriously at the first two steps of my recipe I may find that I cannot separate philosophy from religiosity. Creeds and codes (morality) lead to reflection, speculation, critical thinking and theology. Purely secular philosophy might be basically the intellectual tools for theology and moral theory. The independent immanent reality directly dependent upon the Transcendent for its existence might be human religiosity with human philosophic thinking as only a part. It is an open question as to whether a development of a way of thinking is superior in all ways to that from which it developed

Philosophers are in no position to say that philosophic characterizations of the Transcendent are better than non-philosophical religious characterization. We philosophers have reached the conclusion that the Transcendent is utterly unknowable by philosophical thinking. We philosophers establish skepticism about what we can discover by our philosophizing. For all that we know via philosophy, we may be acquiring truths about the Transcendental via non-philosophical religious thought, sentiment and prayer.

I should emphasize that when I refer to religious ways of thinking and feeling about the Transcendent, I am not writing as some secular philosopher imagining what some benighted religious people still believe. I reflect primarily on myself. I am a practicing Catholic. Weekly I publicly and sincerely profess the Nicene Creed. I believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I find a great similarity in my philosophic thoughts about what I am here labelling “the Transcendent” and my religious thoughts about God Indeed it is hard to separate them. In both cases, I say words with various thoughts and images. Sometimes I think these thoughts and images are really stupid. On occasion I think they give insight and inspiration. But always, be it philosophy or prayer, I think that the thoughts and images are never correct; they do not give the truth. What we can rely upon are the words.

If you and I try to determine whether or not we hold the same belief, we do not try to decide whether we share the varying thoughts and feelings running through our minds. We discuss a variety of claims and facts until we can agree upon using the same words to express our beliefs. In actuality, the hammering out of an agreeable formulation of a creed occur amongst many people over a long period of time. It then becomes an item in a collective consciousness in human intelligence as would a poem or song. Through the ages many people find those words apt for professing what they belief

Transcendence of the Unmoved Mover

I do not cite references to classical proofs of the existence of God because I want to avoid all exegetical issues. If there is any merit in my series of arguments for the existence of God, that has been borrowed from some classical philosopher – most likely Aquinas. I am to blame for all that is folly.

In this argument, motion is to be understood as spatial movement.

Motion need not be. (This is a generalization based on reflection about any representable motion.)
What need not be is dependent for its existence.
So, motion is dependent for its existence.
That upon which motion depends for its existence is something which sets in motion or it is something which does not set in motion.
If it is something which does not set in motion, there would be no motion.
But there is motion.
So, that upon which motion depends for its existence sets in motion.
If that upon which motion depends for its existence sets in motion, then that upon which motion depends for its existence is a mover.
So, that upon which motion depends for its existence is a mover.
The mover upon which motion depends for its existence is in motion or it is not in motion.
If the mover upon which motion depends for its existence is in motion, then the mover upon which motion depends is not a mover upon which all motion depends. (Self-dependent is a figure of speech for denying dependence.)
So, the mover upon which motion depends for its existence is an unmoved mover.

The unmoved mover upon which motion depends for its existence is transcendent or immanent.
If the unmoved mover upon which motion depends for its existence is immanent it is representable.
An unmoved mover upon which all motion depends is not representable.

We cannot represent all motion as an entire whole outside of which there is its unmoved mover for this is thinking of something which transcends what we can represent about motion. We can say the words “unmoved mover upon which the entirety of motion depends. But we represent nothing with these words about what transcends our powers of representation. It is an exercise for readers to verify the claim that the entirety of motion cannot be represented. You have to imagine yourself outside space and time. But that imagination feat is impossible.

So, the unmoved mover upon which all motion depends for its existence is transcendent.

It is not implausible to add that this transcendent unmoved mover upon which all representable motion depends is that which is entirely independent but on which all which is representable depends. And thereby is God.

We have started to link the totally transcendent with the immanent. We have found that a very fundamental feature of the immanent, viz., motion, has its transcendent which is readily identified with the transcendent.

Pope Francis’ Opens a Door to Sexual Nihilism

I take the liberty of quoting the entire article by Edward Pentin from the on-line edition of National Catholic Register,September 14, 2019. It is evidence that Pope Francis either endorses what I have called “The moral neutrality of sexuality” or is willing to have inconsistent sexual moral theologies taught as authentically Catholic. However, the moral neutrality of sexuality would be the sexual morality taught at the important the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences.

I have pointed out that accepting the moral neutrality of sexuality undercuts traditional Catholic sexual morality. Note that accepting the moral neutrality of sexuality is tantamount to accepting that no sexual acts are intrinsically morally disordered.

Let us pray that the Holy Father knows how to preserve Catholic Christianity as a serious religion if it in principle accepts that under certain conditions, with certain intentions and high probability of beneficial consequences any sexual act is morally permissible. The moral neutrality of sexuality undercuts the religious outlook of Catholic Christianity which views human beings as fallen, needing redemption for our sins, and divine help to avoid sin.

There is nothing like the struggle to be chaste, eg., struggling against temptations to masturbation, to convince us that we are strongly tempted to sin, we cannot avoid sin by our own efforts and we need forgiveness for our sins. Performance of the corporeal works of mercy is necessary for salvation. But they are far easier to perform than, say, practicing natural family planning. At least that has been my personal experience

The Catholic Register article follows.

New JPII Institute Professors Question Church Orthodoxy on Homosexuality, Contraception

Father Maurizio Chiodi and Father Pier Davide Guenzi currently teach moral theology at the University of Northern Italy in Milan, and both are well known for their questioning of moral absolutes.

VATICAN CITY — The latest development in what is becoming increasingly viewed as both a purge and a revolution of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute is the hiring of two moral theologians whose views on homosexuality and contraception contradict the magisterium.
The new professors, Father Maurizio Chiodi and Father Pier Davide Guenzi, both moral theologians at the University of Northern Italy in Milan, will begin teaching at the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences as part of its 2019-2020 curriculum announced this week.
Father Chiodi, whom Archbishop Paglia appointed as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2017, is to teach “Theological Ethics of Life” at the institute.
Father Guenzi is to lecture on the “Anthropology and Ethics of Birth.” Both professors, whose appointments follow highly contentious removals of long-serving lecturers in July, are well known for their questioning of moral absolutes.
In 2017, Father Chiodi gave a controversial Rome lecture on Humanae Vitae in which he used Chapter 8 of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia, to justify contraceptive use in some cases.
More recently, he gave an interview to the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire in which he asserted that, while each homosexual person is called to chastity, “under certain conditions” and depending on circumstances, homosexual relationships can be “the most fruitful way” for same-sex attracted persons “to enjoy good relations.”
The interview appeared to suggest that Father Chiodi was open to considering homosexual acts as “objectively good,” according to bioethicist Tommaso Scandroglio, writing in the Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.
Father Guenzi expressed similar views to Father Chiodi in another recent interview with Avvenire. On the subject of whether homosexual acts could ever be licit, Father Guenzi equivocated, saying it depended on the “relationship, between the intention of the individual and the sense of their actions.” In this regard, he added, “they may be deemed ‘imperfect’ as other sexual behaviors are, even within the life of a stable heterosexual couple.”
With respect to homosexual relations generally, he drew on Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8, to assert that every situation has to be discerned differently. In recent years “we have learned that the natural law must be continually rethought,” he said. “There are deep dynamics inherent to each human person which ask to be respected as inherent to the structure of anthropology.”
Fathers Chiodi and Guenzi are two of eight new lecturers to be hired by the institute this forthcoming academic year, all of them Italian, while other incumbent professors including Polish philosophy Prof. Stanislaw Grygiel, a close friend of Pope St. John Paul II, have been sidelined or given their marching orders.
Grygiel has said he believes the institute is being “destroyed” and that John Paul II’s anthropological teaching replaced by “sociological and psychological meanderings.”
Both Professors Chiodi and Guenzi are understood to be close associates of the institute’s grand chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and effectively replace Msgr. Livio Melina, a former president of the institute who held the institute’s now-obsolete chair of fundamental moral theology, and moral theologian, Father José Noriega.
The removals in July of Msgr. Melina and Father Noriega, and the way they were dismissed, led to over 200 scholars worldwide, including well-known U.S. academics such as professor Robert George and professor. Scott Hahn, signing an open letter to Archbishop Paglia, and the institute’s president, Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, asking they be reinstated.
The personnel changes come two years after Pope Francis issued a decree refounding the institute and giving it a new name.
The Register asked Archbishop Paglia whether he could give reasons for employing Fathers Chiodi and Guenzi to teach at the institute in light of their views on homosexuality and contraception. He has yet to reply.

End of Register article

I authored a book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism Oklahoma City March 11, 2014. Sexual Nihilism is equivalent to the moral neutrality of sexuality. I argue that sexual nihilism leads to total moral nihilism which is frequently labeled moral relativism. See Book Web Page for more information about the book. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian Re-enchantment IX: Hiding Behind “We believe”

This post continues exploration of my fear of letting myself speak honestly as a person living in a reality described by a Christian narrative. Such fear is a serious impediment to evangelizing; let alone passing on our Christian faith to our children. I submit that a fear similar to mine is the major cause of the decline of Christianity in the West. Two posts back I called this fear of speaking as immersed in a Christian reality doxastic aphasia. In the previous post I pointed out how this fear of directly stating Christian beliefs could reveal itself by weakening our faith statements by indirectly stating them with I believe.

Of course, in our secular culture it requires courage to express Christian faith with first person singular claims such as:
“I believe that Jesus changed water into wine at Cana”
“I believe that Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish”
and
“I believe that Jesus rose from the dead.”
However, always professing your faith by prefixing it with “I believe” may, as argued in the previous post, be a way of holding oneself back from having a sense of actually living in a Christian reality. The Christian reality is accepted, so to speak, only intellectually. The fear is letting oneself have a sense of being in reality as a Christian narrative describes it.

As of Jan. 22,2018, I am beginning to question whether or not letting oneself have a sense 24/7 of living in a Christian enchanted reality is appropriate for all Christians. Although I grant that speaking as living in a Christian enchanted reality might be necessary for effective evangelization and convincing our children that we genuinely believe the gospel. You do not really convey the joy of the gospel by saying only that you believe it. You have to say it.

In this post my main point is to remind us explicitly, or implicitly, prefixing all statements of Christian belief with the first person plural “We believe that” may express cowardly fear of social disdain for Christian belief as opposed to the philosophical fear of getting confused about reality. Also use of “We believe that” may mask lack of a personal belief while exposing that lack to others.

Note that “I believe that P” does not follow logically from “We believe that P” even when I identify myself as a member of the group to which “we” refers, viz., as a member of the extension of “we.”

Consider the following argument in which the premises are true but the conclusion false.
1. Americans believe that same sex marriages are acceptable.
2. I am an American
Therefore
3. I believe that same sex marriages are acceptable.

This is a so-called fallacy of division. What is true of the whole may not be true of the parts. I can say that, to my dismay, we, Americans, now believe that same sex marriages are acceptable. But personally I strongly disagree with that belief.

In a Sunday school class, I could say “We believe that Jesus turned water into wine at Cana” A student could ask me: “Do you believe that?” Without logically inconsistency, I could reply “I’m not really sure but that is what the Church teaches.

That’s why “We believe” is ineffective for evangelization and allows one to hide one’s genuine beliefs. It does not imply that you have genuine belief.

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My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.