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5 Human Desires that Point to God

Desire

The presence of our enhanced human consciousness not only differentiates humans from animals, it also aids in making the case for the existence of God. That’s because through our human consciousness we desire five transcendental experiences, none of which are necessary for survival. These five transcendental desires are our yearning for: (1) perfect knowledge/truth, (2) perfect love, (3) perfect justice/goodness, (4) perfect beauty, and (5) perfect home/being.

Most interestingly, any earthly satisfaction of these five inner desires leaves us feeling frustrated and wanting more. That’s because what we desire is a perfect experience of each of these five transcendental desires. But, since perfect knowledge/truth, perfect love, perfect justice/goodness, perfect beauty, and perfect home/being don’t exist here on earth, why do we seek them? It makes no sense for us to seek that which is unattainable. We only seek that which is attainable, if not here then in the hereafter.

What we seek is something transcendental, something beyond our world and beyond our earthly experience. What we seek is God, who is the Perfect Knowledge/Truth, Perfect Love, Perfect Justice/Goodness, Perfect Beauty, and Perfect Home/Being. For as St. Augustine of Hippo wrote nearly 1,600 years ago, “Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

Priest, philosopher, and theologian Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., has written several books about how our ultimately unfulfilled yearning for these five transcendental experiences provides evidence of the existence of God. Let’s take a closer look at each of these five transcendental desires found within the human condition and how they reveal God's existence.

(1) Desire for Perfect Knowledge/Truth

Even in young children, we find a desire for perfect knowledge when they ask “Why is that?” and when given an answer they then ask the next question, “Well, why is that?” It seems this questioning would go on forever, at least until an adult brings it to an end! This process reveals that children (indeed, all of us) recognize the inadequacy of a partial answer, and that true satisfaction will occur only when a complete and perfect understanding has been achieved.

Humans do not seek just practical knowledge (e.g., “How do I get the food I need to survive?”). Rather, we want to know just for the sake of knowing, and we have an innate desire for a full and complete explanation. This is evident in the ongoing work of science in seeking a more complete understanding of our world. We know we have not yet reached a perfect understanding of our world, so we research and seek more knowledge, more truth.

Interestingly, we know our knowledge is not complete. If we did not know it was incomplete, we would not keep asking additional questions. It is our awareness that there is more to be known at the very moment when something is known which drives us to additional questioning. We have an awareness of the more.

The issue then arises: Why do we continue asking questions every time something is understood, as if we intuitively know that our current knowledge is limited and does not meet our desire to know all that is to be known? How can we be aware of something beyond everything we currently understand? Why do we have an awareness that what we now know is only a partially complete answer?

This intuitive awareness that there is more to be known than what we now know seems to defy a naturalistic explanation. All our knowledge is incomplete and we know it. But why are we aware that there is more to be known beyond what we currently know?

It seems the best explanation is that our conscious desire for perfect knowledge and complete truth has been written in our human nature by God, who is the Perfect Knowledge and Perfect Truth that we seek. This awareness of the more reveals the presence of God to human consciousness and grounds the belief in human transcendentality (the presence of our soul).

(2) Desire for Perfect Love

We humans also have a desire for perfect and unconditional love. However, this desire can mislead us into expecting perfect love from another human being. When the relationship does not fulfill our desire for perfect love, this expectation leads to frustration and quite possibly to a decline in the relationship. For example, as the imperfections in the love of our beloved manifest themselves (e.g., our spouse is not perfectly understanding, kind, forgiving, self-giving, and concerned for me and all my interests), we at first become irritated. This irritation often leads to frustration, which in turn becomes dashed expectations. These dashed expectations may become either quiet hurt or overt demands, both aimed at extracting a more perfect love from our beloved. When this perfect love does not happen, thoughts of terminating the relationship may arise.

Why do we fall prey to such an obvious error? Because our desire is for love to be perfect and unconditional, but the reality is otherwise. We humans just cannot satisfy each other’s desire for perfect and unconditional love, no matter how hard we try. Thus, our dissatisfaction and frustration arise out of a conscious desire for a perfect love, a love that cannot be experienced in our relationships with others here on earth.

But what is the origin of our deep desire and yearning for perfect love? Why would we have this desire for perfect love, especially as it just leaves us feeling dissatisfied and frustrated when we cannot find it with another person? Why do we have an awareness of and desire for a type of love that we have neither known nor will experience from another human being?

It seems we are searching for perfect love in all the wrong places. Our desire for perfect and unconditional love can only be met by the Perfect Love (God). Again, we find that God has implanted in each of us a conscious desire for a perfect love that only God can fulfill.

(3) Desire for Perfect Justice/Goodness

In addition, we have a conscious desire for perfect justice and goodness. For example, even in young children an imperfect expression of justice from their parents will elicit the immediate response, “That’s not fair!” Adults do the same thing. We feel the same outrage toward groups, social structures, and even God when we perceive that we have not been treated fairly. We truly expect that perfect justice ought to happen, and when it doesn’t we feel a profound and deep outrage. We expect more justice and goodness than our finite world can deliver, and this causes outrage and cynicism when it does not come to pass.

Once more, what could be the source of our desire for perfect justice and goodness, especially when it seems well beyond the actual justice and goodness we can possibly experience? Given that our desire for perfect justice/goodness cannot be found in an imperfect world, it seems that its origin is from perfect Justice/Goodness itself. For this reason, philosophers have associated this notion of perfect Justice/Goodness with the presence of God to human consciousness.

(4) Desire for Perfect Beauty

Once in a great while, we think we have found perfect beauty. This might occur while looking at a scene of wonderful natural beauty: a magnificent red sunset over the water or majestic snowcapped mountains against a horizon of blue sky. Yet, even then, we get bored and strive for an even more perfect manifestation of natural beauty--a little better sunset, another vantage point of the mountains that’s a little more perfect.

As with the other transcendentals, we seem to have an innate awareness of what is most beautiful. This incites us to desire a perfectly beautiful ideal, which leads to both positive and negative results. The positive result is the continuous human striving for artistic, musical, and literary perfection. This striving has left a magnificent cultural legacy of architecture, art, music, drama, etc. However, the negative effect is that we grow bored or frustrated with any imperfect manifestation of beauty. For example, a flowering garden can achieve a certain degree of beauty. But our continued desire to improve it only makes us feel dissatisfied when we cannot perfect it indefinitely.

As with the other transcendentals, we are innately aware of and attracted to perfect beauty itself. But where does our conscious sense of perfect beauty (which does not even exist in our world) come from? Since it seems that the notion of perfect Beauty cannot be obtained from a world of imperfect beauty, we are led to the realization that its’ origin arises out of perfect Beauty itself. For this reason, philosophers have associated this notion of perfect beauty with the presence of perfect Beauty (i.e., God) to human consciousness.

(5) Desire for Perfect Home/Being

The fifth transcendental is our desire to be at perfect harmony and peace in our being and in our world. When our desire for perfect home is even partially fulfilled, theologians, saints, and mystics throughout the ages have referred to this as joy, love, awe, unity, holiness, and/or peace. Again, we need to ask what gives rise to our desire for perfect harmony and our yearning to feel comfortably at home in our world? Once more, the origin of this awareness seems to be traceable to the perfect Home itself. For this reason, philosophers and theologians have associated our desire for a perfect home with the presence of God to human consciousness.

In summary, we find evidence of God’s existence in our desire for these five transcendental experiences. Our yearning for “more” leave us with an emptiness that only God can fill. For as C.S. Lewis stated in Mere Christianity, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food... If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

God is perfect and wants us to be one with Him. Thus, our inner craving for perfection must come from and is directed towards God alone. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#27) states, “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.”

Steven Hemler

Written by

Steven R. Hemler is President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA) and author of the new book entitled The Reality of God: The Layman's Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator, published by St. Benedict Press. Steve has a Master of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University of Chicago, as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Civil/Structural Engineering from Virginia Tech. He has been actively involved in adolescent and adult religious education for over 30 years. After a 33-year professional engineering career, including 13 years in the Middle East, Steve voluntarily took early retirement in 2011 to follow a calling to serve God and the Church full time. Steve and his wife Linda have been married for over 36 years and have three grown children. They live in Culpeper, Virginia.

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  • William Davis

    Most interestingly, any earthly satisfaction of these five inner desires leaves us feeling frustrated and wanting more.

    Learning has never frustrated me, that is probably because I understand that perfection is impossible so I have realistic expectations about the limitations of knowledge.
    I always liked the perfect island thought experiment. No matter how perfect I might be able to imagine my island, there is always something more to add, something that could make it more perfect.
    If one wants perfect knowledge, they should probably root for the eastern concept of rejoining God upon death (the highest level of reincarnation). If perfect knowledge is actually possible, only God is capable of it, so the only way to possess it is to either be God, or be a part of God. I think the continuation of the human soul as a separate self (like in heaven) would prevent possession of perfect knowledge. I mind with perfect knowledge can't be anything close to human. Greater intelligence would yield a radically different self and/or soul. The entire argument for the soul is based on intelligence anyway.
    A little food for thought. If rationality/human intelligence is what separates human's from animals, there is little reason to think mentally handicapped people who incapable of reason have human souls, especially if this is cause by a flawed genome (the genome is the core/starting point of the human form, thus a genetically flawed mentally handicapped person never had the potential for rationality from the very moment of conception).

    • You mean he/she can't 'speak'? (for whatever reason!!!) Can you define what it means to be 'rational'? (I'm still attempting to understand different writings on hylomorphism: related to why the will and the intellect are considered to be 'immaterial'. But if I was to present the difficulties I am having, my thoughts would unavoidable be considered to be incoherent.)

      • William Davis

        I've debated many Thomists about difference between animal and human minds. Their claim is that the core difference is both the ability to reason, and the ability to comprehend universals (like circle). In light of this claim, those incapable of reason and/or understanding universals would have animal souls, especially if that inability is due to the form (genes) not some type of brain damage.
        I don't believe any of that mind, it was just a comment for the Thomists around, it seemed related :)

        • Thanks, I was speaking slightly 'in jest'. I never before realized before a recent post what a complicated thing this 'Aristotelean logic' is. But like everything, unless you really understand something, you cannot assume you have 'risen above it', or 'transcended it'. This ironically can be seen in a comparison with a remark in the last post, that you cannot thoroughly reject anything unless you 'comprehend it'. Actually I could hold that both are true, and that indeed appreciation of the contradictory positions are what is necessary to 'overcome'. (I am still a 'believer. that contradiction does 'exist',. After all, if there are arguments over what constitutes time, who's to say that opposites could not co-exist. Aristotle's principle of contradiction I understand was put into a more physical context by Leibniz, identity of indiscernibles, for instance. But as I 'miss a lot in life', what do I know..

          . Thanks for the link to Neitzsche for instance. I glad they finally got it 'right'. I have always appreciated the 'irony' within his philosophy. Read him and Kierkegaard thoroughly after leaving Nirvana for Samsara. But there can be such a need for an appreciation of subtlety for true comprehension. As Neitzsche suggested, it is important that 'we' (as individuals) understand how to become our own 'ubermensch' unless we want another disaster which would be the result of another 'mythos' arising out of science. (like Nazism!). Thanks for 'getting back'. Have a good one.

          • Pofarmer

            "that you cannot thoroughly reject anything unless you 'comprehend it'."

            All this attitude will do is leave you in constant turmoil, which is what is intended. I don't have to thoroughly understand the intricacies of Ptolemies planetary motion, for instance, to know that it is incorrect. https://sp.yimg.com/ib/th?id=JN.VTkMIYKemI3ss7sBmVp24A&pid=15.1&P=0

            Why should I have to thoroughly comprehend someones bad idea, when it completely conflicts with what I know of reality? Does Brandon thoroughly understand Hinduism before he rejects it?

          • Your observations are correct. I constantly find myself under the influence of the 'dictates' of Catholicism, again! even after being away from it for almost fifty years. and I have read the 'Moderns' all my life! There is possibly a compulsion involved here, although I am definitely making some progress in being 'aware' of my thinking process. The only thing I 'know' is that there is a 'real' philosophical conflict that I don't understand, but feel I 'have to'. Possibly its something that goes 'way' back. Yes it's 'crazy', but there's no need for concern. Maybe I'm attempting to think for myself for the first time in my life!!!! Will delete this later. Thanks.

          • Again I'm attempting to get at the 'source' of 'the problem'. With respect to Ptolemies epicycles, of course once the scientists had the Copernican theory they had not only understood the problem, but had transcended it. I'm sure BV would have a much more difficult time when it came to reconciling Catholicism with Hinduism!!! How is it possible to be 'scientific' with respect to such issues?

        • I left out Hegel's 'unity of opposites'. If only I could use that for some sort of understanding of the Trinity, and thus through my comparison of this with Kant's trilogy, some to some understanding of my own thought, and consciousness generally. (Of course, there is also the strive/love by Empedocles. And dialectics, etc. etc.) But of course logical contradiction is not the same as the 'physical'. But you are probably already aware of my bias 'against logic' in favor of more conceptual 'understanding'. Anyway, perhaps it is only 'a kind of 'God'' who can understand contradiction, if it implied the kind of omniscience that could see, or know and even understand ALL perspectives. No wonder there is so much 'discord' within the world.
          In any case, please be assured that you have never offended me as a woman, and I am very accustomed, as I was born at least 39 years before you, to meet situations in which I have believed that my intelligence has been deemed inferior, 'because I am a woman'. So not to worry. At least we are not always sold in marriages as chattel, any more? At least not 'directly'!!! Indeed, the psychological relationship that is found in ancient texts whose impact continues to this day, has never I believe, been fully explored. So 'feminism' remains a very sensitive issue'. It's hard to know what even an apology might be directed to at times because of the conflict/contradiction between what 'ought' to be accepted, and what 'ought' to be the basis of a feminist protest. Get me????

          • William Davis

            My scrap with Mila was over her anti-feminist attitude and statement. She claims it's over "her enjoying being a mother" but that's just ridiculous. I stand up for women, female equality for my mother, sisters, daughter and wife. Not to mention you ;)

          • Like I tried to hint: there are many different kinds of feminism as there are points of view under the 'big tent' of Catholicism. Some of these feminist perspectives have indeed been thought to entirely neglect the 'mother' status within the quest for more independence within the work place. I have found in my life that you can find yourself on the 'wrong side of the issue', even as a woman. I'd love to be able to give you some life experience stories, but obviously this is not the place or time. She remains both a Catholic and a woman though, whether or not she has difficulties adapting the the suppositions of either atheism or feminism. I just regret that she could not adapt to your humble apology. I was hoping to help out with respect to understanding the 'defensive?' 'reactive?' response. The Church is indeed a patriarchal organization. But if you are a true Catholic, this also involves the acceptance of the metaphysical underpinning of this position. So I do empathize with the difficulty she is having. I am fortunate in that I would never want to be either a priest or a saint!!!!!

    • Just doing some thinking about fiction, (which was mentioned in another context) in relation to Neitzsche's rejection of the metaphysical trilogy, but also in relationship to a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale

      • William Davis

        Ack, why did you delete that :P I thought it was good. I got sidetracked before I could upvote.

        • Really? I'm trying to combine what I know about philosophy and what I have learned through creative writing? You understand that I'm combining the argument that you had, (really it is not your problem if she implied that you lied!!) with today's topic. (I did get a little mixed up by also including some thoughts I transferred to another post where there were more appropriate. But things like that do happen in this kind of writing. It's just an extension of what produced my first incoherence. I'm still exploring whether I can learn something about 'how I think' - which in writing this has brought to my attention the following. There have been philosophies of language and consciousness, but not, I believe, a study of the relationship between them. Thanks so much for your support, William. I know I'm way out, and really have been thinking, that if this 'project' can produce results, I really can copy the comment that is the incentive to my folder: Strange Writing, before attempting a reply. (Originally Geena's idea, but the 'how' has only 'just come together' for me.) (You see - another long post- I'm impossible.) Still have some changes to make then I'll re post. It really is like creative writing, where you go over and over, again and again, the material, because you don't 'really' know where you are going. (Is that a transcendental; a leap into some 'unknown' or some unexpected and/or 'hidden' source? - or are these processes really just the result of an arbitrary kind of repositioning of neurons, and/or an 'evolutionary/epiphenomena' : and can these be identified? If you find these comments coherent, maybe I'm 'learning'....

        • Well William, I really feel like I have overstepped boundaries here. I couldn't help making even more 'adjustments'. Maybe I'm not really a writer, either. Am going to delete a couple of the other posts now that I have set up my Strange Writings folder. And when I get the word from you I also intend to delete this one. I don't understand why I am doing this. I'm only aware that I've never written in this 'style' before. I always had difficulty with the philosophy papers in analytic philosophy, and in this comparison I have not confidence that I have even a good rhetorical argument. Not going back to to study logic though. I was to tired to proof read again. So this is the only 'proof' you're going to get. Thanks.

          Am thinking about fiction, (which was mentioned by another contributor in relation to Neitzsche's rejection of the Christian metaphysical trilogies), but will also be discussed, not argued, within a relationship to a dystopian novel written by Margaret
          Atwood.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale Later, the subjugation of women within this tale is related to another contrasting scenario. These constitute the empirical aspect within this attempt to examine or at least attempt to become more subjectively aware of the thought process involved.

          We will consider the placement of contrasting negative perspectives on women which remain a primary concern within various feminist movements, within the context of the over-riding theories or attitudes, which can be considered in some way as transcendental to these empirical concerns,
          and thus fall within the general context of transcendence.

          The idea of the state-related theory, in contrast to the religious example,was based originally on a movie called The Avengers, but in order to fill out the story is the AI theme is combined with portrayal of the ideal grounds for raising children enunciated by Plato in his Republic. If you recall, he held that raising children was too important a task to be assigned to 'parent(s)'., and thus should be placed within the jurisdiction of the Republic. Within parallel considerations of issues within today's society, we can take note that this was also the age when Oedipus as a child was abandoned on a mountain, and high ranking officials were allowed to commit suicide in order to avoid even loss of face.There are other issues obviously related to our times, but with a little imaginative thought I suggest the reader find content to make up for the omissions resulting from limited time and space.

          Within this comparison, the 'story' considers the possibility of a situation in which childbearing by a woman is no longer considered to be essential,. efficient or necessary in a world governed by self-programming robots who have adopted the scientific method in order to guarantee a perfectly ordered state. There is after all, cloning, technology and over population, and within the perspective of the superior intelligence of the computers this is particularly relevant with respect to those irresponsible 'humans'. Well, not much detail here but hopefully the plot presents The Avenger as having returned within an appropriate context relative to the concerns of the women's
          liberation. Do you think hopefully I could sell the idea? I could
          use a few 'bucks'.

          So is this merely a fiction? What is a fiction? Is such a scenario a possibility? Do these disclosures, whether fiction or not, increase the likely or remove the possibility of future possibility. Are they possibly an indication that they can even anticipate a 'future', despite any thought of absurdity within the idea that we can know what might develop in this world? As an illustration of the concept: Did anyone expect the rise of the 'mythos' of the Master Race, which (together with the opposite Marxist interpretation) has been considered to be a possible consequence of the philosophy of Hegel? Can such a question be 'scientifically' determined to be either fiction or fact?

          Neitzsche I understand rejected Christianity because of the servitude he felt was characteristic of a relationship he identified with the image of the shepherd and his flock. Far more preferable was a world of science, reason, and self-governance by the individual. This could be regarded, I
          suggest as a governing transcendental concept, although I do not believe it's specific nature has been identified through this
          description. Yet, following his example, some Post-Moderns, also laud the example of the ancient Romans, Greeks and the pre-Socrates. For this is/was the age they identify as the first culture to be based on a scientific philosophical perspective rather than one based on a religious worldview.

          Yet would not such a perspective be classified, without contest, as being more subjective than objective, if those were the parameters chosen? Indeed as this historical perspective is a development of Neitzsche's idea, promoted as a kind a 'renaissance' initiated by Neitzsche. directed to a future within a kind of theoretical framework that is identified with a specific teleology.

          I shall however, merely note that although there is a kind of
          transcendental ideal involved within this philosophic/ideology, which however may include within this conception the attainment of some kind of better world, or perfected 'state'. focused primarily within however remains a temporal order.. Although it is generally considered that the religious perspective of a transcendental purpose is understood to be primarily directed to some understanding of the 'eternal', there is
          within the context of Kant. division between empirical realities and transcendental idealities, the latter of course being identified within the Christian context as a reality. This fundamental difference between AT and Modern philosophy, therefore would constitutes the major distinction within their relevant concepts of transcendence.

          (There's more. Are you interested?) Thanks. I'm exhausted.

        • Ive put it on line, but as a hopefully 'fresh' comment, I'm just 'testing' whether or not there will be any 'forgiveness' on the part of the evil overlord!!!!!

        • So I'm back. Just in case you are still 'interested' I dare again. But with all these posts, how can you read them all. Anyway I worked hours and hours on this, trying to make a 'synthesis' of personal experience, which I hope in some way you find 'ironically serious comedy'!!

          Thank you Michael Davis for expressing interest in my attempts to develop an essay on this subject. I am daring to post this here, rather than as a direct response to you, in order to test whether my belief that there is at least 'some coherence' is justified. Thanks all. (This is not on the list of required reading.)

          Part One:

          The concept 'transcendental' has many possible meanings. It can refer to what is beyond space and time; it may refer to the inner experiences of mind in relation to the external
          world, or it may refer to the overcoming of an obstacle or limitation.. Such distinctions are placed within the
          consideration of several stories that I hope can be regarded as fact in contrast to fictions, (words which also have multiple meanings) as they constitute the material from which is drawn alternative ways of classifying meaning. This is but an attempt to adopt the criteria of scientific method to a study that is not based on direct empirical evidence. Several possibilities will be considered.

          This will be a discussion, not an argument, of the implications of a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale In contrast to this religious example, a contrary position is offered, based on a movie called The Avengers, but in order to correspond with The Handmaid's Tale, it is placed within the context of the ideal grounds for raising children enunciated by Plato in his Republic. If you recall, he held that raising children was too important a task to be assigned to 'parent(s)' and thus should be placed within the jurisdiction of the Republic. Within parallel considerations of issues within today's society, we can take note that this was also the age when Oedipus as an infant was abandoned on a mountain, and high ranking officials
          were allowed to commit suicide in order to avoid even loss of face.

          The 'story' proposed, but unlike The Handmaiden, (not actually written), would consider the possibility of a situation in which childbearing by a woman is no longer considered to be essential, efficient or necessary in a world governed by self-programming robots who have adopted the scientific method in order to guarantee a perfectly ordered state. There is after all, cloning, technology and over population, and within the perspective of the superior intelligence of the computers, who indeed can be regarded as gods, this is particularly relevant with respect to those irresponsible 'humans'. Well, not
          much detail here but hopefully the plot presents The Avenger as having returned within an appropriate context relative to the concerns of women's liberation. Do you think hopefully I could sell the idea? I could use a few 'bucks'.

          Within both stories there is a major focus on the placement of contrasting negative perspectives on women, a theme which remains a primary concern within various feminist movements. These constitute the empirical, or rather factual elements, and include mental 'data' considered also as 'facts'; within this
          attempt to examine or become more subjectively aware of specific thought processes involved and invoked when thinking about the concept of transcendence. There are other issues obviously related to our times, but with a little imaginative thought I suggest the reader can contribute his/her own
          ideas to make up for the omissions resulting from limited time and space.

          Within the context of over-riding theories there are attitudes,
          presumptions, or even cognitive bias, that perhaps can be considered in some way as theoretical in relation to factual content under study, thus there can be a possible difficulty with respect to identifying what would be the most appropriate
          category in which to place a thought. In any event, surely it would be justified to regard such concerns within the context of general theories with respect to both the structure and meaning of 'transcendence'.

          So are these stories merely a fiction? What is a fiction? Is such a scenario as The Handmaiden a possibility, even as a productive idea of fact? Do these disclosures, whether fiction or not, increase the potential for their actualization. Can we
          ever find a precise indication that, whether, as fact or fiction, such considerations anticipate, or indeed predict or guarantee the actuality of a specific 'future', despite any thought of absurdity within the idea that we can ever know what might actually develop within in this world? (We don't always get what we want!!!) (or desire!!!)

          As an illustration of mere possibility, could anyone have had precise conscious awareness with respect to what retroactively can be regarded as the rise of the 'mythos' of the Master Race, which (together with the opposite Marxist interpretation) is now considered to be a possible consequence of the philosophy of Hegel? Can such a question be 'scientifically' predicted, or ‘religiously’ prophesied within either the context of fiction or fact?

          Nietzsche I understand rejected Christianity because of the servitude he felt was characteristic within a relationship he identified with the image of the shepherd and his flock. Far more preferable was a world of science, reason, and
          self-governance by the individual. This could be regarded, I suggest as a governing transcendental concept, although I do not believe it's specific nature has been identified through this description. Yet, following his example, some Post-Moderns, also laud the example of the ancient Romans, Greeks
          and the pre-Socrates. For this is/was the age they identify as the first culture to be based on a scientific philosophical perspective rather than one based on a religious worldview.

          Yet would not such a perspective be classified, without contest, as being more subjective than objective, if those parameters were related primarily to cultural interests? To reiterate, this historical perspective is a development of Nietzsche's idea, promoted as a kind of 'renaissance', a deliberate restructuring and reformulation of past events, which included a specific
          interpretation of the philosophy 'The Will to Power',. directed towards a future consolidation of multiple possibilities; a theoretical framework that is identified with a specific teleology.

          I shall however, merely note that within the above contexts, the
          transcendental ideal involved within such philosophic ideologies includes within its conception the attainment of some kind of better world, or perfected 'state' although both its origins and focus remains within a construct of the temporal order., and the teleology is directed more to the universal than to the
          particular or individual.. By contrast, it is generally considered that the religious perspective of a transcendental purpose is primarily directed to some understanding of the 'eternal'. But within Catholicism perhaps there is a basis for multiple interpretations in this regard, for the concept of transcendental
          is not consistently or explicitly associated with either the eternal or temporal. This leads to a subsequent confusion as to the possibility or meaning of a disembodied immaterial human soul awaiting a glorified bodily resurrection within a heaven on earth. and thus the idea that the transcendental, as a mystery of faith. is logically beyond the understanding of or by the individual.
          (To be continued.) (Just my attempt to 'understand'!!!

          • Part Two.

            There is, within the context of Kant's philosophy, a. division between empirical realities and transcendental idealities, the latter of course being identified within the Christian context as a reality. This fundamental difference between AT and Modern philosophy, therefore would constitute a major distinction within
            their relevant concepts of transcendence.

            In both stories, The Handmaiden and the Avengers, motherhood is placed within a context in which her 'person' is undervalued. Those who are depicted within the Atwood example would defend the Christian patriarch and the traditional
            transcendentals. Those within the fictional representation of some of the ideas we associate with The Third Reich would respond in an analogous way. But perhaps within all of these cases there is reciprocity between fact and the ideas, whether or not the latter are regarded as fictions. Within the context
            of the Avengers, is it possible, for instance, that Nietzsche would reconsider the negation of the traditional transcendentals if he had been aware of how his philosophy would later be interpreted, as an emphasis on the state rather than
            the individual? How is it that there can arise constant misunderstandings because of the relation of the inner world of consciousness, to the external world of empirical reality?

            The Avengers would surely be considered a fiction, for how could the function of motherhood no longer be considered necessary, but rather an impediment to a higher order established by a rule of 'robotic gods'. Their authority governs not only the domain of law, but the biological sphere of science,
            without consideration of human, rational, physical or innate characteristics, particularly that of some kind of possible perfection? Both The Avengers and the Handmaids Tale describe an improbable event. It is surely all speculative
            fiction, but also possibly comparable to some ideas within 'philosophies'. And within the latter context, does the idea of 'perfection' necessarily demand the idea of 'transcendence' as a metaphysical 'absolute? Is not the application of this concept applied to improving one's ability to do a particular task,
            (techne, or technology) as well as the prerequisites assumed as necessary for the development of virtue, for instance, or character, more properly associated with human consciousness per se and the aesthetics of life as well as art?

            Can the ideas of Nazism be regarded as a kind of religious mythos which can be truly compared to a fictional representation such as that described within the story of The Avengers? Similarly, are the ideas of love, home, truth,
            beauty, and goodness, the transcendentals presented in this discussion to be equated only with a concept of imagination arising from the reproductive, as in the case of fictional stories, rather than with the productive imagination, which describes those images that are immediate within perception. For example, what would be the case if the concept of God truly was a fiction and identified with the ideas which arise within the sphere of literature, alone? But even here the lines are not firmly drawn, for is not fiction even as functional art an aspect of cultural determinants, both as they affect the social and the individual? Have not the stories in the bible, like the ideology of Nazism, been compared to mythology. and questioned as a matter of fact? Thus, even within this distinction (between
            the real and the ideal), is there not the possibility of confusion with respect to the relationship between consciousness and 'the world', as well as a need for further development of awareness and understanding regarding both the meaning of words, and (the) effect of our ideas on self and others?

            For me, at least, this problem of hermeneutics or interpretation is a constantly evolving process of learning. Yet, I do not believe I have the capacity to imagine the concept of 'perfection' when placed within a relationship to the category of 'transcendence' within a Platonic context alone. There is always the need to relate a concept to my individual experience. Perhaps, to counter the Catholic explanation, that belief, grace,
            faith come from and through God, there could, within the secular context, be some kind of modal linguistic operative that demands always something more from me as a result merely of these concepts being placed in juxtaposition. Is it the linguistic idea or the consciousness of the thought that requires a primacy of focus in any particular case?

            .

            Who can explain to me 'how' I/we think? Yet, even within seeming limitation with respect to the understanding of transcendence, or the transcendental, I am aware of the importance of developing the capacity to think 'good thoughts', and the need to be directed to a higher development within the sphere we call 'personhood'. Is such an aspiration towards the transcendent within the individual more relevant within such a context, or is it the focus on the transcendent, specifically regarded as 'O/other', including the concept or being of God that is primary? Is there a necessary interrelationship between
            the two, whether regarded as fiction or fact?

            Will I ever find it possible to define or recognize possible delusions within the compass of such philosophical distinctions as what is the 'real', and what is 'ideal'; between what Kant called the phenomena and what within his philosophy
            is unknowable: the noumena? But the idealistic philosophers following Hegel were unable to find even the Buddhist ideal of a personal Nirvana within their philosophical explorations, and so there developed the various schools of neo-Kantianism, from the analytic scientific philosophers, to the post-modernism
            of Heidegger in the late 19th century. Within this context the debate continued as to whether or not God is indeed 'dead'.

            But then I think of all the work being done in an attempt to understand both language and consciousness. In this context I wonder whether these philosophers have found a relationship between them that can be explicated. And then I question again: What do these continental philosophers want? What are they
            thinking, as they contemplate these transcendentals within a context that has been referred to as the 'death of logos'?

            I trust you understand how Judea-Christian traditions and pagan philosophy were integrated, but is it possibly questionable whether a true synthesis has ever been attained? Perhaps the death of god refers to religion and the death
            of the logos refers to philosophy. I can only speculate. Perhaps new meaning, interpretation and indeed structure will be appended to such concepts as the resurrection within Christianity, and Wittgenstein's reference to the 'end' of philosophy will be understood to refer to a goal or purpose. In any case, surely even an application these ideas have
            something to do with how we think of the 'transcendentals'.

            P.S. Obviously I could not tackle the current discussion on reductionism vs. transcendence within such an illustrative context. Even though I don't this I desire a 'transcendental perfection' !!!! Carry on. William, I admire what you are doing! Thanks.

  • Nazo

    Another point to bring up that this article made little mention of is that we have all these desires and yet, from an evolutionary standpoint, they make no sense. Why would we have developed these inner desires via evolution? Particularly the perfect love one, since reproduction now requires us to jump through hoop after hoop in order to have sex, as opposed to animals who just find a partner they find suitable when the season strikes and go for it (not all of them do that, obviously).

    • Michael Murray

      I don't think that is a problem. Evolution by natural selection doesn't say that everything we do has to improve our chance of reproduction it just suggests that things that damage our chance of reproduction should be selected out in the longer term, all other things being equal. These unfulfilled desires seem to me to all be related to consciousness. Consciousness seems likely to be a product of our high intelligence and our development of an ability to model humans minds and behaviours which we turned inwards to model our own minds. So the intelligence and the modelling of others minds and behaviours I would think advantageous and the modelling of our own minds a side effect. We've probably only had it for a few hundred thousand years so for me the juries out on whether it will cause enough damage to be selected out. As religion seems to be product of consciousness maybe it will end up being to our detriment.

    • William Davis

      One major difference between humans and other higher mammals is the amount of care our infants need. Dogs require a very short gestation period of only 60 days, and are mostly about to survive stand alone after 6 months. Humans have a gestation period of 3 times as long, and that is probably cut short because of the massive size of the human skull (I think the Genesis account of increased pain in childbirth represents a dim memory of smaller skulled humans, but that's conjecture). Instead of months, humans need around 15 years to be functional and reasonable able to survive on their own. I think the nature of human reproduction requires pair bonding, though it is possible the pair bonding started before major increases in human intelligence.

      One other problem with your point of view is the prevalence of monogamous animals. Here is a slide show of 12, and there are more.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/slideshow/love-for-life-animals-mostly-monogamous/

      In general animals are perfect capable of their own forms of love. I know exactly what my dog loves (I'm one of the things he loves), and I use it to reward him.

    • I think all these desires can be grounded in evolution, as well as a number of others such as a desire for power and wealth.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        I look forward to your OP rebutting Spitzer on evolutionary grounds.

        • William Davis

          There are excellent evolutionary grounds for all of this, but your response would just be "God used evolution to implant these desires in us." Since I'm a deists, I'm ok with that, but evolution could have derived these desires with or without God.
          These desires are largely in Christian cultures anyway, some others aren't nearly as interested. You don't find many hunter gather societies desiring these kinds of things, for instance :)

          • Beauty, truth, and goodness are explicit concepts which cover the metaphysical categories: pathos, logos, and ethos, spoken about within other categories as well. Possibly the 'desire' for love and a home are even more ingrained within humanity than the others. But even just as a student of philosophy, I respect the impact the trilogy has had on Western civilization. I'm not sure it is possible to find a more comprehensive/succinct schemata. (Just a thought).

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are making claims but not supporting them. What are these evolutionary grounds and how do you know that non-Christian societies don't much care the five transcendentals?

          • William Davis

            You are making claims but not supporting them.

            I'm sorry but I have to laugh hearing this. The claim that these things point to God is completely unsupported, it's a non-sequitur if there ever was one.
            I've actually spent time on other articles bringing in evolutionary biology with regards to love, beauty, ect. You've been involved in those conversations. I'm really not that interested in repeating myself, because there is not reason to think you won't ask the same question in a month. I might make a separate post on that very topic. Did you read my comment about the evolutionary need for pair bonding (love) to allow helpless human offspring survive?
            In the end, I'll be honest with you, I like you as a person, but there is absolutely no point in conversing with you. You're not going to change your mind about anything, and you're not going to remember my arguments. I know from experience.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I provided a very brief rationale why the transcendentals point to God here: http://strangenotions.com/5-human-desires-that-point-to-god/#comment-2051906865

            Don't you read my other comments? ;) (Actually, the way disqus works once the commenting gets going makes it very hard to see anyone else's discussion but one's immediate one.) Believe it or not I don't pour through SN to read what you write.

            What you have done here is make a claim and then demanded I refute it on the basis that you say you have proven it elsewhere.

            Is your entire reason for being here to change people's minds?

          • William Davis

            I read your comment. I don't see love points to God. Love point to other people, or things I like. Beauty pulls me toward things I find beautiful, like mountains. The desire for justice pulls us to right wrong, and make our social systems fair and equitable. I find perfect being and contentment through mindfulness meditation. You really should try mindfulness, it takes some work but really worth the effort. I can recommend good books.
            Remember I'm a deist, so I'm not trying to argue God doesn't exist, I'm just saying I don't see what any of this has to do with God, that's all.
            At this point, the main reason I'm here is for people like Chad and Andre (I've met on other sites) who used this website to develop the confidence to walk away from Catholicism without guilt or fear of hell. I do this because I believe Catholicism's hold on people's minds is unjust (so the virtue of Justice motivates me to be here).
            Being on this site for the past 6 months has shown me just how weak Christianities arguments are, and just how little it is related to the divine being created this universe, assuming he exists. I appreciate how this site for how comfortable it has made be in being non-Christian :) That probably isn't the intention of this site, but that is what it has done. I think the question is worth spending time on, so in that we are kindred spirits.
            Out of curiosity, have these debates strengthened your faith or have they had no effect? I see no sign of them weakening it, and I know full well I'm never going to change your mind about anything.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I was an atheist for over a decade and drank its bitter dregs. I have become more and more a Catholic in the intervening years. In my experience it gets better and better.

          • Pofarmer

            What bitter dregs would those be?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That is enough information for you.

          • Michael Murray

            Don't forget the recent post we had here

            The fallacy of “the appeal to consequences” goes like this:

            Belief X causes negative consequence Y.
            Therefore belief X is false.

            Or

            Belief X causes positive consequence Y.
            Therefore belief X is true.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            My comment was not an appeal to anything. WD was giving me unsolicited advice on how to be happier through "mindfulness" and wondering about the effect of SN on my faith. I was just recounting my overall experience of of atheism and Catholicism.

          • William Davis

            If you don't like my mentioning mindfulness, I'll never bring it up again. You don't have to agree with anything in Buddhism to do it, it's just a psychological practice. Just one last plug. This is on the health benefits that have been repeatedly verified:

            http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm

            We can use brain imaging to measure happiness:

            http://www.businessinsider.com/how-scientists-figured-out-who-the-worlds-happiest-man-is-2012-11

            Again, I don't see anything incompatible with Catholicism here, but that's for you to judge :) Have a great weekend!

          • Kraker Jak

            William, as you already know, I am interested in your comments, and do not agree with everything you say, nor would you expect me to.But I do find that you make a lot of interesting and relevent comments both here at SN and on EN on many things. You and Geena were commenting on EN about the reason that people do drugs. You said:

            Most humans do drugs for one reason...they're bored.

            I agree with you in the sense that when they do drugs...be it out of boredom per se or not. I do think think that boredom sets in because they are really seeking an altered or more aware state of consciousness or true metaphysical reality. The drug Ayawaska would be a very good example of this. Do your own research on it, I also agree with Geena on some of the reasons that she states for drug use...except some use drugs because they want the emotional, psychic or physical pain to stop. I can speak from experience...with a few drugs....though have not tried Ayawaska as yet and probably won't because of the research that I have done online, it can be a frightening and dangerous experience if one is not prepared to take the chance of losing their present self. One would certainly not be willing to do that unless one is at the point of total desperation with no hope in sight. In that case the only other option or not, may be to embrace a religion of one ism or other.

            altered state of consciousness The Silence of Mindfulness
            http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/04/15/the-silence-of-mindfulness/

          • William Davis

            Geena is right. My comment was an oversimplification based on people I've known. Good info, drug use is in a number of religions.

            I read somewhere that some hindus say marijuana makes you more like a god, lol.

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-teenage-mind/201106/history-cannabis-in-india

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Haven't you ever heard that a gentlemen does not give people unsolicited personal advice, even if he thinks there is something wrong with them?

          • William Davis

            I welcome advice on anything that could improve my quality of life. I guess you and I are inherently different here, I didn't realize. I truly meant it to be friendly, not to imply there is something wrong with you...I don't know where you got that from.

          • William Davis

            I'm glad it makes you happy. It makes many unhappy, sadly, but not because they want to sin, necessarily.

            P.S. Geena and I were just talking about how we like you :)

            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/outshinethesun/outshine_the_sun_estranged_notions_is_heaven_to_blame_for_murder/#comment-2051722185

          • William Davis

            Out of curiosity, what were the "bitter dregs" of atheism?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It was my personal experience of atheism. Beyond that, you'll have to wait for my memoirs. ;)

          • Pofarmer

            Why in the world should I believe you?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Beats me.

          • VicqRuiz

            .

          • William Davis

            I will take a brief moment to say a few things. There is no evidence that these 5 things are universal at all. I've known people that seem incapable of love, and no two people love the same way. Therefore love is not completely universal, though there are universal elements. This rules out "perfect" love. People dramatically disagree on what is beautiful. Rare exceptions include natural beauty like a starry night (and many could care less about stars). People perceptions of Justice vary, it's never consistent, but we end up largely in the same place. Largely in the same place indicates it's not completely universal. As for perfect being, dogs and apes want a good pack to run with just as much as humans. Animals have correlates for love, even monogamy, and they find things beautiful (my dog thinks steak is beautiful. Here is a relevant quote:

            As social science continues to define aspects of romantic love, there is a greater consensus in the scientific community that no two people experience the emotion in exactly the same way. As a complex human emotion, love is the culmination of a complex interplay between biology, cultural, and environmental influences. In spite of individual differences, however, aspects of love appear to be universal. The universality of love indicates that this emotion may be evolutionarily adaptive. Recently, evolutionary biology has attempted to “reverse engineer” complex emotions (including love) in order to determine how these emotions became evolutionarily adaptive. According to Pinker, emotions like love were preserved in human biology because they identify and prioritize goals based on human needs. In other words, emotions appear to be necessary to motivate an individual to accomplish basic tasks, including feeding, fleeing, defending, and reproducing.

            I've been doing some good audio lectures on philosophy of emotions:
            http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/passions-philosophy-and-the-intelligence-of-emotions.html

            He goes into a lot of psychology things love and hate are inextricably built into intelligence. These things are part our engagement with the world, and we can talk about them independently, but love and beauty never exist separate from the mind that experiences them. All reason is laced with emotion, and all emotion is laced with reason.

            Out of curiosity, why is it a problem for you if evolution brought these things you call "transcendentals" into being? You could still say God created reality such that we would evolve the way we did. There is no inherent contradiction there. Of course, I think calling them transcendentals is a mistake because they can't exist without minds that are built on neo-cortex (lower "dumb" creatures like reptiles and fish lack neocortex, the newest evolved material in the brain).

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The universality of the transcendentals is not that everyone thinks the things that will fulfill them are identical: it is that everyone desires them and sees them as inherently worthwhile in themselves.

            The fact that some people do not love does not refute that love is a transcendental. Such persons might not love but they might still desire to be loved or they might be completely deformed (as in a sociopath).

            The fact that an evolutionary biologist can write an evolutionary biological account of the origin of certain emotions should not be surprising because that is precisely what that field is supposed to do.

            I don't think evolution could have brought the transcendentals into being but it could have given human beings the capacity to recognize them.

            There is no doubt that animals have emotions and in AT philosophy our emotions and passions and even consciousness are due to our animal nature.

            I find it very doubtful that animals (other than man) see things as beautiful or good or true.

            Your appeal to hunter-gatherer societies lacks any strength. There are beautiful and amazingly skillful cave paintings that are 40,000 years old.

          • William Davis

            I don't think evolution could have brought the transcendentals into being but it could have given human beings the capacity to recognize them.

            I think the notion that they exist outside the person is completely false. It's like saying hands exist outside the person. Hands are universal, but no people = no human hands.

            Your appeal to hunter-gatherer societies lacks any strength. There are beautiful and amazingly skillful cave paintings that are 40,000 years old.

            I haven't seen any cave painting I was impressed with, but I'm picky when it comes to art. I tend to prefer music, and natural beauty when it comes to visuals. I think the fact that there is absolutely no agreed upon standard of beauty is a big deal, and demonstrates it's in the "eye of the beholder".

            I think you have defined your "universal" so loosely that it can be satisfied by about anything, and I agree that all human "loosely" embrace these 5 desires. The problem is that when you study all this in detail, much of the universal nature of these things breaks down into nuances. I like the fact that the Greek had 4 different words for love. Then we could speak of agape specifically...i.e. selfless love. This is not universal, at all. Eros generally is, and so is phileo. So we have one non-universal and two semi-universal types of love. Here is an interesting article of various beauty standards (eros love and physical beauty of a potential mate really part of the same thing)

            http://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/g3279/weird-beauty/

            Some of these women are downright ugly to me, but if I had been raised in one of these cultures, no doubt I would find them beautiful.

            This video shows how perception of beauty (and thus part of the nature of eros) has changed in the west over the past 100 years

            http://www.popsugar.com/beauty/100-Years-Beauty-Evolution-Video-36213507

            So yeah, the more you know, the messier all this is. Your universals are hardly universal compared to a math concept like 2+2. Plato was extremely excited about math because it was one of the few things everyone would agree on, lol.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think we need to see the forest for the trees. People might disagree with what is beautiful or more likely what is more beautiful but they don't deny there is such a thing. They also prefer more beautiful to less beautiful.

          • William Davis

            Geena Safire comes at this from a similar direction, I'll quote ( I recently asked Brandon if she could be reinstated, but he decline. In my experience she is a very kind person who possesses a lot of useful knowledge. I've seen her politely debate Catholics on other sites, they usually are less polite than she is. Knowing both her and Brandon makes me suspect his motives for keeping her banned (I'm not saying he is a bad person, but I think she is likely banned for her arguments, not her character). It's his site of course, but I'm big on separating character from belief systems. I think Brandon expected this site to go in entirely different direction. I'm surprised I haven't been banned yet, but I guess there is a new policy standard.)

            From Geena:

            I agree with Josh.

            We evolved such that our nervous systems generate motivational signals which we call 'emotions'.

            This 'detect and respond to environment' is one of the few fundamental elements of the definition of "life". Talk about evolution!

            Even viruses detect relevant surface proteins on certain cells which kicks off their cell-entry procedure. Mobile bacteria and sperm can detect gradients of particular 'positive' chemicals and move in the direction of the highest gradient (and, for bacteria, away from a noxious substance). Plants detect and grow toward sunlight.

            The purpose of a nervous system, in multicellular animals, is to enhance the capability to respond, including:
            1. Detection
            (a) detecting a wider range of environmental and internal messages (food, toxin, heat, light, vibration, pressure...) and
            (b) detecting these messages over a wider range (wider light spectrum detection, greater heat range, more sensitive gradient detection, ability to ignore something below a threshold)
            2. Discrimination between and Coordination among signals
            3. Access learned behaviors and memories relevant to current signals.
            4. Interpretation and Evaluation of signals and memories
            5. Selection of appropriate responses and, as needed, prioritizing some and ignoring some (e.g., prioritize danger over hunger)
            6. Motivate appropriate responses from the appropriate body part(s)
            (a) The responding part may be far removed from the detecting part.
            (b) Many inputs may be coordinated into one response, or a single input may generate multiple responses.
            (c) Our emotions are motivations generated by our nervous systems to elicit the behavior determined appropriate.

            These are basic nervous system functions of quite primitive animals, including roundworms. C. elegans, for example, has about a thousand total cells, and more than three hundred of them are its nervous system. They can detect quite a range of environmental elements, including potential mates, and they can learn and remember, and they can respond to their environment in surprisingly complex ways.

            Ants are very much more complex than roundworms, with greater learning capacity, greater input detection, and a much more complex response repertoire.
            Reptiles? More, more, more.
            Birds? More, more, more of all elements, plus parental care. Corvids (crows and ravens) have extremely advanced systems analysis abilities.
            Mammals? More, more, more, more plus parental training and often intricate, complex social systems.
            Primates? More, more, more, more, more plus unbelievably complex brains, with orders of magnitude greater memory and learning systems.

            Eventually, we get to humans, with 86 billion neurons, and about 10 thousand synapses on average per neuron. And 3.5 billion years of evolutionary history of increasingly complex response system to environment/internal input.

            We have the "want" emotion -- which animals have had since we were worms.
            We have the ability to detect quantity/gradation -- which life has had since we were bacteria -- that is, more of X over here and less of X over there.
            We can put the "more" ability together with the "want" ability.

            Then Lewis posits that because we have these two things -- and have some complex thinking we can overlay on that -- therefore we can conclude heaven!? Seriously?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            This seriously misrepresents what Lewis and Spitzer argue. Neither argues that people have wants and can think and therefore God exists.

          • William Davis

            I agree in a sense, they argue that it's the specific nature of the wants. I argued that the nature of the wants isn't that specific given our current knowledge of other cultures. This was knowledge Lewis didn't really possess. I also showed how these specific wants usually point the object of the want, which may not be connected to God in any way. I like the Catholic idea of grounding this wants in God (as Johnboy spoke of), but grounding something in God is a specific way of structuring meaning, just because a Catholic structures meaning in that way doesn't mean it will encourage someone else to structure meaning that way. I'm not opposed to Christianity as a theory of meaning (though it's not satisfactory to me), just as a theory of reality. I think these are two very different things that Catholics try to merge. Theories of meaning are very important for the human mind (having no meaning in life can directly lead to depression), but I've seen no evidence yet that they connect with objective reality except in the way the influence human behavior.

            I think the fact that almost all cultures belief in gods of some type were be a better, and more specific argument. Again, many of us require specifics, the "5" is just too vague for me, though obviously not for you :)
            Let me know if you think "the nature of the wants" isn't the core of the argument, I'd rather not misunderstand it, and I don't think I am.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think "the nature of the wants" is the core of the argument. Here is what Spitzer says abuot the transcendentals in New Proofs for the Existence of God (p. 240).

            Earlier in the book, Spitzer develops a metaphysical argument that shows that God is a unique, unconditioned, absolutely simple, unrestricted Creator.

            In Chapter 8, he considers the transcendentals, classically three (truth, goodness, and beauty), but Spitzer actually argues for five.

            I will show that human consciousness seems to possess five aspirations or desires that can be satisfied only by the . . . transcendentals, namely, the desire for ultimate Home, ultimate Truth, ultimate Love, ultimate Goodness, and ultimate Beauty. Any conditioned or restricted satisfaction of these five aspirations or desires
            results in unfulfillment, want, or even frustration. It seems as though the five manifestations of absolute Simplicity form a confluence with the five human desires for ultimacy, leading one to suspect not only a connection between the divine mystery and the human mystery, but also a presence of the divine mystery to human consciousness.

            If God is present to human consciousness as the fulfillment in truth, love, goodness, beauty, and being (home), then human reason can go beyond confirming the existence of God as a unique, unconditioned, absolutely simple, unrestricted Creator, to unveiling the nature of the God as perfectly truth-filled, loving, good, and beautiful. Augustine stated this connection clearly when he exclaimed: “For Thou has made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

          • William Davis

            Note that David does not have these desires, and I don't think he is some kind of sociopath. I don't think many people have these kinds of desires, in general. I'm actually one of the people that does have these types of desires. I think they are best fulfilled through a marriage of science, technology, and philosophy. If God wants to do more in some type of afterlife, that's up to him, but it seems to be a mistake to give up here and now, and just bet on the afterlife solution. We've been making some notable progress lately, and I find myself much more fulfilled from learning deep truths from progressing pursuits of knowledge.

            Buddhism and mindfulness have been extremely useful for me in managing desire and cultivating contentment. Those desires you mention can be satisfied in this life with the right approach, but that approach must include the acceptance of the lack of the possibility of perfection, at least in my view.

            It's interesting that some Catholics take mindfulness classes and get along well with Buddhists, while the core Catholic hierarchy considers it a threat. http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/clarkolson_cathbuddh_feb05.asp

            They are probably right, Buddhism is a real threat and I have expounded reasons why here. It's a good kind of threat though, in my opinion, because it represents an open-minded approach. I think Buddhism has a lot to learn from Christians, and Buddhists say this regularly. I think the world is better off without the old Catholic Vatican hierarchy that western Catholics largely ignore.

            It's hard to calculate, but many argue that the Catholic Church is the richest organization in the world:

            http://news.nationalpost.com/news/wealth-of-roman-catholic-church-impossible-to-calculate

            How can you get further from the mission of Christ?? Mark 10

            “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money[c] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

            23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is[d] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

            I've seen pictures of the Vatican, of all the gold, all the wealth. The fact that the Church has held onto this, is one of the richest organizations in the world, and hasn't donated this to the poor is nothing but pure hypocrisy. I have no doubt that if Jesus of Nazareth was here, he would be going into your Churches and overturning your coffers because you are not doing what he commanded. This is a core evidence that Catholicism is a false religion. I don't know how it can be ignored.

            Buddhists almost never accumulate wealth (some exceptions) have humble monasteries, and approach everything without the completely unsubstantiated pride and arrogance of the Catholic Church. Here is a list of Buddhist Charities:

            https://www.guidestar.org/nonprofit-directory/religion/buddhist/1.aspx

            I realize there are Catholic charities, but there is no excuse for how the Church has squanders it's donations on buildings and gold. No excuse. How can I not find Catholicism false when it diverges so far from it's own texts?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            First you ignore my response to your question, then you argue that you think the Church wants people to give up on the transcendentals in this life for the next (which is totally false), then you chastise the Church for holding on to so much beauty in the form of art and architecture (which she has perfectly good reasons for doing) to then arguing that the Church is the richest organization in the world (which is totally false), to calling the Church false for not selling everything to give to the poor (which is another bogus theory).

            It is hard to hit a moving target.

          • William Davis

            I thought I dealt with the response to your question. Not all people have these desires (like David), and the desires don't point to God. Buddhism is related because it deals with this desires and our inability to satisfied them.

            to calling the Church false for not selling everything to give to the poor (which is another bogus theory).

            Why is it bogus? Have you read the Gospels?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            David said arguments like that leave him cold.

            Why do you think Catholics--whether individually or collectively--are required to practice absolute poverty?

          • William Davis

            Because of what Jesus said. You claim to be the representative of Christ on earth, yet you don't practice a core teaching. All of the gold and huge buildings to me represent the sin of pride and greed. I get this from reading the gospels. There is no reason to think Jesus would approve of any of this. He overturned the tables of the money changers at the temple because they were making a profit off of God.
            I'm just bringing this up because this is a core emotional reason to not believe Christianity. In some ways I'm a fan of Jesus (seriously), especially since I don't think he claimed to be God (making him neither a lunatic or liar). I've generally seen nothing but hypocrisy from Christians. I'm saying any of this as a flame, attack, just what my conscience tells me. It isn't just the Catholics that do this, most Christians do. Christians pick and choose what's convenient just like everyone else. If Christians seemed to practice what they preach, I'd probably have a completely different view of Christianity. None of this is your fault of course. I'm sorry if I'm offending you, I'll let it drop. Maybe a part of me is hungry for a religion that works, and actually gets it's followers to practice what they preach.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Please establish that a core teaching of Jesus Christ is that the Church he founded and individual disciples are not to own anything and are to give everything they have to the poor.

            Also please establish what this vaunted wealth of the Catholic Church consists of. It would be good to compare this wealth with that of other nations, institutions, and individuals.

          • William Davis

            The disciples left everything to follow Jesus, at least according to the gospels. They say nothing of building churches, using Church donations for art, gold, all of the extravagance I see in Christianity. Jesus makes it clear that no normal man can follow this teaching, but with God, all things are possible. Apparently not.

            Also, other individuals and nations don't claim to be Jesus's true representatives on earth, so I don't see how comparing the Church to them is even relevant. To compare them would be to agree the Church is nothing but a human bureaucracy (no more divine than the U.S. government). All evidence points to that fact actually.

            I'll start with John 3:17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

            About 21,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every four seconds, as you can see on this display. Sadly, it is children who die most often.

            http://www.poverty.com/

            Using the money for all the fancy churches, ect. has exactly the effect of closing the heart against brothers in need. I'm not saying there should be no churches, but the expensive ones could be sold and the patrons could move into very cheap churches. They would do the job just fine. Let's bring in more sayings of Jesus.

            Mark 10

            As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money[c] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

            23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is[d] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another,[e] “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

            Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.”29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news,[f] 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

            Matthew 19

            16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these;[b]what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money[c] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

            23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

            Luke 18

            18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.”22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money[c] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

            26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”

            28 Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

            Matthew 6

            19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[g]consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[h] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

            Luke 16

            10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth,[d] who will entrust to you the true riches?12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”[e]

            I'm sure there are more, but I'm confident this is a core teaching of Jesus Christ, one I sympathize with. I don't quite live up to his standard myself, but I do try, and I don't claim to be a Christian, much less Christ's earthly representative.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Sorry about the formatting. I wrote this up in Word and Word inserted these line breaks.

            “[The Gospels] say nothing of building
            churches, using Church donations for art, gold, all of the extravagance I see
            in Christianity.”

            That does not rule out beautiful and large churches. The first
            Christians led by the apostles worshipped daily at the Temple, a quite
            magnificent building. As soon as Christianity became sufficiently free, the
            Church began building churches to celebrate the sacraments. The Church building
            represents Christ, so it is appropriate the building be beautiful.

            The Anointing at Bethany (Mt. 26).

            6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a
            woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment, and she
            poured it on his head, as he sat at table. 8 But when the disciples
            saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this
            ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.” 10 But
            Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has
            done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with
            you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment
            on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I
            say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has
            done will be told in memory of her.”

            “[O]ther individuals and nations don't claim
            to be Jesus's true representatives on earth, so I don't see how comparing the
            Church to them is even relevant. To compare them would be to agree the Church
            is nothing but a human bureaucracy (no more divine than the U.S. government).
            All evidence points to that fact actually.”

            No. You said the Church was the richest institution on earth.
            That is completely false. In fact, the Vatican has quite modest holdings. A
            pittance compared to Harvard University, for example. Warren Buffet and Bill
            Gates are vastly more wealthy than the Vatican.

            “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees
            his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love
            abide in him?”

            No institution has done more for the poor throughout the world
            for the past 2000 years than the Church. People today die of hunger because of
            their screwed up governments.

            Go, sell what you own, and give the money[c]
            to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

            This is lived out every day by bishops, priests, religious and
            lay persons. It is not possible for everyone to live perfect poverty (even my
            brother, who has taken a vow of poverty and who owns nothing, belongs to a
            religious order that of necessity owns property.

            Matthew 6 19 “Do not store up for yourselves
            treasures on earth, where moth and rust[g]consume and where thieves break in
            and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither
            moth nor rust[h] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For
            where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

            Right. We are supposed to “make friends” with Mammon, but giving
            alms. How can you give alms unless you have something to give away?

            Luke 16 - “You cannot serve God and wealth.”

            Who says the Church is serving wealth?

          • William Davis

            I figured this was too off topic to keep going with. Going from oil on Jesus's feet to Cathedrals is quite a leap. Looks like there was a Strange Notions article on the topic, looks like Catholic Charities get a ton from the U.S. government.

            http://strangenotions.com/in-defense-of-nice-churches/#comment-1229035600

            http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=680583

            It is important to be careful what charities you donate to, and I don't think the Church is scamming anyone, just think the money would be better spent on other things.
            All this is good reason to be against the religious tax exemptions. I hope we can get rid of that in my lifetime. I'd still be for actual charity tax exemption (so the money to pay for priests and Cathedrals should be taxed, not the money directly used to help the sick and poor). Sound fair?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Boy am I glad you are not the dictator of this country.

          • William Davis

            Dictator? I'll just be voting with my conscience like everyone else. Religious tax exempt status is definitely against my conscience, but I'm also against many other special exemptions. Render to Caesar that which is Caesars. Since the church thinks its fair for it to meddle in politics, the world needs secular groups to oppose it. I will do my part as a good citizen :)

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The trouble is, Caesar wants everything and progressives want to feed his insatiable appetite.

          • William Davis

            I'll agree with you, at times that can be true. I'm a fiscal moderate and think the deficit is a real problem. It's going to take spending cuts and closing tax loopholes (and probably tax increases sadly) to do that.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Before you call the RCC the richest organization in the world, please read the new story you linked to and try comparing those numbers to other organizations, like Harvard University or Microsoft.

          • David Nickol

            I've seen pictures of the Vatican, of all the gold, all the wealth. The fact that the Church has held onto this, is one of the richest organizations in the world, and hasn't donated this to the poor is nothing but pure hypocrisy.

            I think Christianity may have lost it's way in some respects when it comes to the teachings of Jesus on riches, but I disagree that the Church should sell, say, the Pietà, or
            The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, or whatever, and give the money to the poor. Including those kinds of things as part of the shameful wealth of the Catholic Church ignores the fact that they are priceless, and the Church more or less holds them in trust for all of civilization. How can you put a price on something like St. Peter's Basilica? Whom would you sell it to?

          • William Davis

            Me personally, I have no problem with person property, but I agree with socialist arguments over excessive wealth when starving people exist.

            The person of Jesus, as represented by the gospels, seems to sing a completely different tune. He makes it abundantly clear of what he thinks of such things. I truly think he would want the Church to sell it all. They would find all kinds of buyers, and the stuff would be well preserved in all kinds of collections, museums, ect. Billionaires by this kind of stuff all the time. All the proceeds would go to world hunger (something I've donated some to myself) and the art would still exist, it's not going anywhere. In the mean time, thousands could be fed, and the Catholic Church could set a truly impressive example that would have me thinking twice. I'm serious, if the Catholic Church actually did something like that, my view of it would change drastically. I'm not sure I would become Catholic but who knows. The hypocrisy of Christianity (at least what I see as hypocrisy) is a real problem for me. It just seems...wrong.

        • Let us take the desire for "perfect knowledge" for example. Firstly, I am not clear on what it is, if it should be considered a distinct property of humans, or even if it is truly universal. I can accept that many humans want more and better knowledge and some will say they are never satisfied and wish they could be. Consider a species with relatively newly evolved tool-making and cognitive abilities. I expect those that develop a curiosity for more knowledge, will be more successful in problem solving, which helps in finding food, winning mates and constructing shelters.

          Now I suppose this instinct or desire could in some be limited. They could evolve to feel satisfied with a basic or enhanced amount of knowledge, once they build a shelter, become alpha male, and secure a source of food. But they are still competing with other populations. A competeting population that never stops yearing to learn more, solve more problems and so on, discovers an advantage that displaces the sated group, passing along these genes.

          Now this may seem far-fetched, but we are aware that incredibly subtle instincts can evolve (see the mating rituals of the Kakapo!) But certainly it is by no means implausible that we have an evolved property to never be satisfied with our current level of knowledge.

          But of course, this desire or instinct which I suspect evolved, has been percolating in a unique species that can and does, reflect and respond to our innate instincts and desires. If indeed we have an intuition that we seek perfect knowledge, it is not implausible to think that it is a function of an evolved tendency to learn, supported by society and culture that promoted these. (Not all do necessarily and these might have very different opinions on whether we all seek perfect knowledge.)

          We then need to compare the above scenario to the proposed option of such desires existing because of a god. Such claims generally involve some kind of an appeal to the unobserved and highly disputed supernatural forces or events which makes them less likely to begin with.

          But even if you discount this, you still need to establish that, on theism, it is more likely that humans would have a desire for perfect knowledge compared to on naturalism. I have explained why I think it is not unlikely on naturalism, but I think we have no reason to believe that a god would want such a desire in humans. He may, but is this not problematic for Christians particularly? Would not perfect knowledge include the knowledge of good and evil, which was specifically prohibited by Yahweh in Genesis? Would not this then mean that humans were designed to have a desire that would go contrary to God's clear injunction? In other words, we were designed with a universal desire to sin?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Consider a species with relatively newly evolved tool-making and cognitive abilities. I expect those that develop a curiosity for more knowledge, will be more successful in problem solving, which helps in finding food, winning mates and constructing shelters.

            I think that is plausible but human beings do not only attempt to solve practical problems, we search into truth for its own sake, whether or not it has any practical application. We find joy in discovering truth.

            Absent symbolic language, is any other species even capable of thinking about truth let alone enjoy doing so?

          • David Nickol

            Absent symbolic language, is any other species even capable of thinking about truth let alone enjoy doing so?

            Isn't this an argument against creation pointing to a God? How do we explain that in all the vast universe, there may be only one species that has desires that (allegedly) point to God?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Well, according to speculative theology, every angel is a separate species, so there are all those.

            In my comment, I am only thinking of species on earth.

            It seems we are the only candidate here. I don't see anything wrong with that. From the theological perspective, everything in creation reveals something about and so unconsciously proclaims the glory of God. But because we are rational, we can do so consciously.

            When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
            4 what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?

            5 Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. 6 Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; Psalm 8

          • David Nickol

            I don't see anything wrong with that.

            I don't see anything wrong with it, but it seems like the arguments in the OP are pretty much based on intuitions or impressions rather than facts. And of course they date back to the days when the earth was taken to be the center of creation and the vastness of the universe was totally unknown.

            5 Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor.

            Puny humans are "little less than God"? I don't think so!

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I would agree that this particular kind of argument is more along the "points to" kind. But five different things point to something so you have some convergence. In addition, they also correlate to attributes of God what can be rationally established (at least Spitzer claims they can be).

            I don't think seeing the earth as the center of the universe invalidates the argument. Ptolomy said the the size of the earth compared to the rest of the universe was so negligible as to be insignificant.

            I have no problem with "little less than God" or probably better translated "a god." But according to orthodox Christian theology, we are divinized in Christ and so will share in the divine life in some way. Even now we are god-like in our rationality and freedom of will.

          • We do not know if we feel joy in discovering truth, we feel joy in thinking we have discovered truth, God knows whether it is actually true or not.

            Kidding aside, it is the mechanism that evolves, which is not content specific. We develop the mechanism of joy to feeling like we have discovered something irrespective of whether we have, or it is useful. So it would make perfect sense for us to enjoy discovery both practical and "for its own sake".

            I don't know what other species are capable of, some animals I think some seem to have aesthetic enjoyment, such as whalesong. But we are significantly different than other animals.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It is by no means implausible that we have an evolved property to never be satisfied with our current level of knowledge.

            This seems plausible to me but note that this corresponds to the actual fact that our knowledge is always imperfect and we somehow always know we don't know and have more to learn.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            the proposed option of such desires existing because of a god. Such claims generally involve some kind of an appeal to the unobserved and highly disputed supernatural forces or events which makes them less likely to begin with.

            This OP is very truncated. In Spitzer's original, he takes pains to show that human beings have an unrestricted desire to know that is set in the strange situation of knowing there is more to know and that we don't know it. He connects this with an attribute he has established about God, that God must be an unrestricted act of knowing. If I understand Spitzer, he does not claim that one causes the other or that one proves the other but rather our unrestricted desire to know points to God's unrestricted knowledge. I don't think the argument is stronger than a correlation.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think we have no reason to believe that a god would want such a desire in humans.

            I think we have a reason. The reason is that we are made for friendship with God and God is Truth. Our desire for knowledge and truth is always, underneath, a desire for God. That, of course, is a theological reason.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Would not perfect knowledge include the knowledge of good and evil, which was specifically prohibited by Yahweh in Genesis? Would not this then mean that humans were designed to have a desire that would go contrary to God's clear injunction? In other words, we were designed with a universal desire to sin?

            I don't agree with how you are interpreting this. If you sin, you now know good and evil in a devastating way--you know you did not do the good you should have done and have done the evil you should not have, with lots of evil fallout, like suspicion of God and blaming the other. On the other, hand if you don't sin, you also know good and evil in a good way: The good you did and the evil (thankfully) you did not do.

          • William Davis

            I don't agree with how you are interpreting this. If you sin, you now know good and evil in a devastating way--you know you did not do the good you should have done and have done the evil you should not have, with lots of evil fallout, like suspicion of God and blaming the other. On the other, hand if you don't sin, you also know good and evil in a good way: The good you did and the evil (thankfully) you did not do.

            This is how I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with using condoms. ;P The fact that you guys think that's a sin still baffles me. In other words, there are many "sins" where an uniformed person would have no idea that are doing "evil". An extremely unhappy couple that gets divorced is a similar example, there are plenty of others.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I though you were an expert on Catholic moral theology.

            If a person has no idea that something is evil, then he cannot be committing a sin when he does it.

            I don't think this is the time to debate contraception and divorce.

          • William Davis

            You just contradicted Catholic moral theology. You said "If you sin, you now know good and evil in a devastating way". You seemed to be indicating that the act of sinning would automatically clue you in on the knowledge of good an evil. The Genesis story indicates the magic apple gave the knowledge of good and evil, not just the act of disobeying God.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Magic apple? Never mind, snarkie.

          • William Davis

            There was no snark intended. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil is often depicted as an apple. If you perceive that as snark, we'd best never converse again. Have a nice life. We both have better things to do with our time. In general I think I'm done with this website. It's been useful, but I've seen what I need to see. The truth.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The snark was not in "apple" but in "magic."

          • William Davis

            If it wasn't magic then what was it? It obviously wasn't a normal apple. I intended the thing about the condom as a joke, but in retrospect it was in poor taste (but very applicable because this is the first place I have ever heard ANYONE say condoms are immoral, the thought had never occurred to me thus I lacked knowledge of this evil until now). I didn't put much thought into magic apple, I simply used it because "the fruit of the tree of knowledge" is awfully long, and magic seemed the most appropriate single adjective. I think Brandon deleting David's quote from Feser (it helps to know he's saying one thing to a Catholic audience and then something else to us - that's called being two-faced...though I'll admit its common), and your behavior just now is more or less showing me your true colors. Finding "magic" offensive is just baffling to me. Right now I'm walking away in disgust.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Mindfulness.

          • David Nickol

            The snark was not in "apple" but in "magic."

            Both the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of LIife (or the fruit from them) seem to do things that are out of God's control. Genesis 3:22 is as follows:

            Then the LORD God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?

            How would you characterize the powers of the two trees if not "magical"? I think it would be unjustifiably rewriting the story to view God in this context as the kind of omnipotent being later theologies make him out to be. If he had that kind of power in Genesis 3, he could just undo whatever it was about the Tree of Life that conferred immortality.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Of course you can interpret any text any way you want, provided your reasons are adequate.

            The Church, however, reads the OT in the the light of Christ's Revelation as she understands it. Here is a rather long summary of some of the Church's thinking about Chapter 3 of Genesis by Pope Benedict XVI (http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2013/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20130206.html)

            In the first Chapters of the Book of Genesis we find two important images: the garden, with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the serpent (cf. 2:15-17; 3:1-5). The garden tells us that the reality in which God has placed the human being is not a wild forest but a place that protects, nurtures and sustains; and human beings must not consider the world as a property to be looted and exploited but as a gift of the Creator, a sign of his saving will, a gift to be cultivated and safeguarded, to increase and to develop with respect and in harmony, following its rhythms and logic in accordance with God’s plan (cf. Gen 2:8-15).

            Then the serpent is a symbol that comes from the Oriental fertility cults that fascinated Israel and were a constant temptation to abandon the mysterious covenant with God. In this light Sacred Scripture presents the temptation of Adam and Eve as the core of temptation and sin. What, in fact, did the serpent say? He did not deny God but insinuated a subtle question: “Did God say, ‘you shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” (Gen 3:1). This is how the serpent awoke in them the suspicion that the covenant with God was nothing but a chain that bound them, that deprived them of freedom and of the most beautiful and precious things of life. Their temptation became the temptation to build by themselves the world in which to live, to refuse to accept the limitations of being creatures, the limitations of good and evil, of morality; they saw their dependence on the love of God the Creator as a burden of which to free themselves. This is always the essence of temptation. But when the relationship with God is falsified, with a lie, putting ourselves in his place, all other relationships are altered. The other then becomes a rival, a threat. Straight after succumbing to the temptation, Adam turned on Eve (cf. Gen 3:12); the two conceal themselves from the sight of that God with whom they had been conversing as friends (cf. 3:8-10); the world is no longer the garden in which to live in harmony, but a place to exploit, riddled with hidden snares (cf 3:14-19); envy and hatred for others entered man’s heart. An example of this is Cain who kills his own brother Abel (cf. 4:3-9).

            Actually, in opposing their Creator people go against themselves, deny their origin and consequently their truth; and evil, with its painful chain of sorrow and death, enters the world. Moreover, all that God had created was good, indeed, very good, but after man had opted freely for falsehood rather than truth, evil entered the world.

            I would like to highlight a final teaching in the accounts of the Creation; sin begets sin and all the sins of history are interconnected. This aspect impels us to speak of what is called “original sin”. What is the meaning of this reality that is not easy to understand? I would just like to suggest a few points. First of all we must consider that no human being is closed in on himself, no one can live solely for himself and by himself; we receive life from the other and not only at the moment of our birth but every day. Being human is a relationship: I am myself only in the “you” and through the “you”, in the relationship of love with the “you” of God and the “you” of others. Well, sin is the distortion or destruction of the relationship with God, this is its essence: it ruins the relationship with God, the fundamental relationship, by putting ourselves in God’s place.

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that with the first sin man “chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good” (n. 398). Once the fundamental relationship is spoilt, the other relational poles are also jeopardized or destroyed: sin ruins relationships, thus it ruins everything, because we are relational. Now, if the relationship structure is disordered from the outset, every human being comes into a world marked by this relational distortion, comes into a world disturbed by sin, by which he or she is marked personally; the initial sin tarnishes and wounds human nature (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 404-406). And by himself, on his own, man is unable to extricate himself from this situation, on his own he cannot redeem himself; only the Creator himself can right relationships. Only if he from who we distanced ourselves comes to us and lovingly holds out his hand can proper relationships be restored. This happens through Jesus Christ, who goes in exactly the opposite direction to Adam, as is described by the hymn in the second chapter of St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (2:5-11): whereas Adam did not acknowledge his creatural being and wanted to put himself in God’s place, Jesus, the Son of God, was in a perfect filial relationship with the Father, he emptied himself and became the servant, he took the path of love, humbling himself even to death on a cross, to set right our relations with God. The Cross of Christ thus became the new tree of life.

            Dear brothers and sisters, living out faith means recognizing God’s greatness and accepting our smallness, our condition as creatures, letting the Lord fill us with his love and thus develop our true greatness. Evil, with its load of sorrows and sufferings, is a mystery illuminated by the light of faith which gives us the certainty that we can be freed from it: the certainty that it is good to be a human being.

          • William Davis

            That isn't a bad interpretation, as far as it goes. I had someone explain why you might associate magic with superstition, and thus snark. It makes many wonder how many of my other comments come across as snark without that being my intention at all. I do tend to be as honest as possible about my point of view, for better or for worse.
            This is my way of saying no hard feelings on my end, but I'm sure we both can agree that we've probably said all we have to say to each other. No reason raise blood pressure for no positive end result. Best of luck and/or providence :)

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I have no problem continuing to dialogue with you.

          • David Nickol

            The Church, however, reads the OT in the the light of Christ's Revelation as she understands it.

            It seems to me you are evading the point by getting into deep theologizing about simple aspects of the story. I don't object to "deep" readings of the story in the light of Christianity, but they are really beside the point when it comes to characterizing the fruit of the two trees in the account of Adam and Eve. Reading the story at face value, which is absolutely necessary as a first step, it is clear that the fruits of the trees have powers that God seems to have no control over. I quote again:

            Then the LORD God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing
            good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit
            from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?

            God is clearly alarmed that Adam and Eve have become like divine beings ("one of us") by eating the first forbidden fruit, and he is further alarmed that they will become even more like him if they eat from the tree of life. And there seems to be nothing he can do but to physically prevent them from getting near the tree of life. That is the story.

            Now, if you want to theologize about it based on later Christian thought, that's fine. But you can't change the basic facts of the story. You can't say, for example, "Of course God with a mere thought could have prevented Adam and Eve from becoming immortal even if they had eaten from the tree of life, because God is omnipotent. That is injecting a view of God into the story that clearly is not a part of the story.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Sure, but no Christian even in the first generation would ascribe to a tree a power over God.

    • Pofarmer

      You should try Patricia Churchland's "Braintrust".

  • Hosea Long

    Although I'm tempted to offer some long-winded gibberish, I won't. I'll simply say, this is great! It offers the best explanation I've read for why people pursue bad habits to the point of ruin, trying to find a state of being the world can't offer.

    • William Davis

      I hardly think the pursuit perfection is a bad habit, one just has to be aware that only excellence is obtainable.

      "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." Vince Lombardi

      • Hosea Long

        William, no offense intended, but your reply is one reason I'm hesitant to participate in these online talks. My comment has more to do with the route one takes in seeking perfection than anything else. The human soul needs fulfillment. The article points to the fact that humans are lacking something deep within, and we seek to full the void. I think we would be hard pressed to say that all approaches to perfection are good. Would you say the drug addict, who's trying to find fulfillment, and develops a destructive habit, is on a good road?

        • William Davis

          William, no offense intended, but your reply is one reason I'm hesitant to participate in these online talks.

          I understand that perfectly. I've used these discussions to cultivate the virtue of patience (I'm sure you can see how ;). If I say something that's offensive be sure to let me know. I want to say when I think, but my goal is definitely not to intentionally offend.
          Pleasure seeking is very different from pursuing perfection in my opinion. I don't see how pursuing perfect knowledge, perfect love, perfect justice, perfect beauty, and perfect being relate to pleasure seeking, but I guess we're pulling different things from the article (the assumption that you are talking about the items in the article isn't unreasonable).

          Almost all philosophical systems I'm aware of speak of the problems of pleasure seeking. Most offer the pursuit of happiness/contentment/satisfaction to be quite different from the pursuit of pleasure. We can explore this further if you'd like, my favorite approach to this comes from Buddhism :)

        • Mila

          I stopped reading his comments when he said that I was the problem of society because I thought being a mother and feeling a life inside was the best thing in the world.

  • Well, I've accepted the fact that as it is stated by EN my comments are often incoherent. A reflection perhaps of the world? Anyway, as I have accepted the fact that neither I nor my comments are perfect, perhaps the EN overlord is perhaps more theoretically theologically correct than I am.

    • Well, I guess the above comment is not the only example at the moment relevant to 'personal issues'. So may I clarify. I am not expecting any response, negative or positive, with regard to the on-going monitoring of my posts, none of which have been found acceptable. But truly, I don't feel particularly 'concerned' about this state of affairs. I really would like to get back to my writing, or direct study of philosophy. Perhaps I am hanging on here out of some kind of laziness, or something. Am I the only one who can find on occasion, that I don't really understand my motivations? Please, ye all, for this reason, no need for concern.

  • Raymond

    "It seems the best explanation is that our conscious desire for perfect knowledge and complete truth has been written in our human nature by God"

    "It seems we are searching for perfect love in all the wrong places. Our desire for perfect and unconditional love can only be met by the Perfect Love (God)"

    "it seems that its origin is from perfect Justice/Goodness itself."

    "Since it seems that the notion of perfect Beauty cannot be obtained from a world of imperfect beauty, we are led to the realization that its’ origin arises out of perfect Beauty itself"

    "the origin of this awareness seems to be traceable to the perfect Home itself"

    While it "seems" that these desires are "evidence" of God, all they say is that human intelligence can imagine these things, and that these things would be desirable, if they existed. It doesn't follow that because human intelligence can imagine these things that these things exist. I can imagine a world where a short person with hairy feet created a nearly perfect world with courage and a dollop of luck, but that doesn't mean that it exists.

  • Ladolcevipera

    Our unfulfilled yearning for transcendence may very well point to a transcendent Being, but this is not necessarily the christian God. Precisely because this Supreme Being is transcendent its essence is beyond what we can understand. Our yearning for transcendence is the consciousness, the experience of awe, of the mysterium tremendum et fascinans, but we can only say what God is NOT. Religions are therefore symbolic references to a transcendent reality. Christianity is a superb and coherent attempt to describe what escapes all understanding.

    • William Davis

      I really like your universalist approach, and would love to see more of it. My main beef with Christianity is it's insistence that it is the one and only "Truth".

      • Kevin Aldrich

        No. The CC does not insist it is the one and only truth but that it is the custodian of the fullness of the truth. That means it recognizes truth wherever it is found.

        • William Davis

          I know that CC says. Lado and I disagree with the Catholic position. I like having Catholics who agree with me. The Church has no control over it's members, U.S. Catholics largely ignore the teaching office it seems (and rightfully so), but they don't show up for these types of discussions. Catholics have all kinds of views that aren't consistent with the Vatican.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            "My main beef with Christianity is it's insistence that it is the one and only "Truth"." I just told you that the Church does *not* insist on what you say. So what are you disagreeing with?

          • William Davis

            Define: "custodian of the fullness of truth".

          • Kevin Aldrich

            A custodian is someone to whom something is entrusted. The faith of the Church is that Jesus Christ is the fullness of truth and that every truth we find in this life is in some way a reflection of him. The Church believes herself the custodian of the truth Christ wanted to reveal to the world. This, the Church sees herself as the custodian of the fullness of the truth. But partial truths are found everywhere.

          • William Davis

            So you have the one "Truth", though your truth is possibly incomplete. I don't think I said anything wrong to start with, but I'm sure we will disagree on that ;)

          • Ladolcevipera

            Why would the "fulness of the truth" be revealed by one particular person - Jesus - at one particular point in time? Many religions claim to own the truth. The fact that christianity became a dominant, widespread religion is due to the Emperor Constantine who, for political reasons, chose to amalgate the many religions of Rome into one. Many christians would accept with the same utmost conviction a completely different concept of God had they been born in a different culture.

          • William Davis

            Thank you :)

          • Kevin Aldrich

            To answer your question, if Christianity is actually true, the fullness of truth was revealed by one particular person (actually *in* one particular person) at one particular time because God became man.

            Your theory of Constantine is ahistorical fantasy.

          • Ladolcevipera

            So something is true because it is true? My question still remains: *Why* would God - the transcendent being - reveal Himself in one particular person at one particular time?
            As to Constantine: you cannot deny a historical fact simply because it does not suit you. Ideas, cultures, languages get around the world in the slipstream of imperialistic powers. It is still the case.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            What you say about Constantine is not a historical fact.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Constantine may have had his own agenda; he may or may not have been a Christian. The fact is that with the Edict of Milan (313) he put an end to the persecution of the Christians using the faith to his political advantage. He went on to organise the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicea making it a strong, uniting factor in his Roman/Byzantine empire. He gave the impuls for a distinctly Christian culture and that is why the Church calls him Constantine the Great.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            This statement is a far cry from "The fact that christianity became a dominant, widespread religion is due to the Emperor Constantine who, for political reasons, chose to amalgate the many religions of Rome into one," But it is still not correct. He did not "organize" the CC at Nicea. The CC already existed in its essential characteristics. He did call it, though.

          • Ladolcevipera

            A far cry? Had it not been for Constantine and his political agenda Christianity would have remained a local religion! Anyhow it is back to square one, I think...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You have the cart before the horse. The numbers of Christians and their influence on society was increasing and reaching a critical mass.

          • Papalinton

            Christianity is an accident of historical precedence. It has no basis in fact. The decisions at Nicea in 325CE are a testament to people settling onto one of a multitude of story lines story by a vote of hands in the first instance, the result of which were many losers whose particular interpretations did not garner enough votes and which now represented heresy, a thoroughly theological concept. In the second instant, Nicea was then followed by regal edict of Constantine. There was no supernatural element coming into play in any partof this process, all a completely terrestrially-bound socio-cultural phenomenon.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Very true. The yearning for an infinite being is innate. Throughout all times and all cultures people have been looking for a supreme being that gives meaning to their lives. But the name they give to it (God, Allah, ...) and the characteristics they attribute to it depend on a particular culture within a particular time, excluding all other religions or views. I think that a supreme being is beyond any discription. Because it is transcendent its *ousia* is unknown to us. We can only describe it in negative terms, thus including other religions or views. I think though that Christianity is a superb, coherent, intellectual system. A pity it is not true.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            [T]he characteristics [various cultures] attribute to [God] depend on a particular culture within a particular time, excluding all other religions or views.

            "The characteristics [various cultures] attribute to [God] depend on a particular culture within a particular time." How could this be otherwise, since we all live in a particular culture in a particular time? That does not mean that a particular culture's religious patrimony cannot have import for every other culture. Christianity received "gifts" both from its Judaic roots and from the Greek mileau in which it flourished in the first centuries of its existence.

            "Excluding all other religions or views." This is patently false in the case of Christianity, which sees elements of truth in other religions, cultures, and systems of thought. Many other religions are syncretistic, readily joining to them elements from other religions and cultures.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Your reading of what happened at Nicea is unhistorical. Doctrinally, there was one issue on the table which was raised due to Arianism, which many saw as not in accord with the Church's historical understanding of the nature of Christ. At that point Arianism didn't even lose (as you put it), since it continued on and even became ascendent in the time of Athanasius. Please inform us who was put to death for a thought crime when Nicea ended.

          • Aaron Lopez

            No, that is rubbish.

            Arianism was always considered an erroneous teaching by an erroneous priest. The issue was that it started spreading higher up the clergy and infecting the Church of Alexandria, and had to be solved with a synod.

            Heresies have plagued the Church since the beginning. Jesus Christ mentioned heterodox understanding of his gospel even during his missionary. We know of Christian gnosticism within the first centuries. None of these errors never needed an ecumenical council specifically.

            Arianism was simply a huge problem, and authentic Christianity predated it.

          • Papalinton

            Authentic christianity is an oxymoron. [There are at last count some 41,000 sects of Christianities. Arianism persisted well past 325. Indeed it seems you either do not understand or have disowned even the scantiest potted history of Christian persecution against the ARIANS, the sordid history of Christian hegemony and the utter dog's breakfast characterized as 'Christian orthodoxy'.

            "The Emperor carried out his earlier statement: everybody who refused to endorse the Creed would be exiled. Arius, Theonas, and Secundus refused to adhere to the creed, and were thus exiled to Illyria, in addition to being excommunicated. The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames while all persons found possessing them were to be executed.[47] Nevertheless, the controversy continued ...." FIRST COUNCIL OF NICEA

            Couple this with the militarily wiping out of Arianism among the Germanic tribes centuries later sure is a testament of what the orthodox are prepared to carry out in the name of their orthodoxy. There is no hand of God here, Aaron; just the mind-boggling internecine bloodlust of Christian thought to subjugate all who have a different opinion. And that is all it is, opinion.

            Benjamin Barr Lindsey (d.1943), renowned American judge and social reformer, bests sums up the sorry history of Christian orthodoxy:

            "The churches used to win their arguments against atheism, agnosticism, and other burning issues by burning the ismists, which is fine proof that there is a devil but hardly evidence that there is a God."

          • Aaron Lopez

            Constantine didn't organise the Catholic Church, for two reasons:

            1) All five episcopal sees understood the unity of the Church and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome even during the first three centuries. The Council of Nicea was a necessity for the spread of Arianism in the Church of Alexandria which threatened the faith in the east. Jesus Christ warned there would always be those spreading error, but Arianism was historically its greatest problem and needed more than letters of chastisement that previously it could have afforded.

            2) Relating to the first reason, the (Roman) Catholic Church doesn't recognise Constantine as anything more than an enabler and patron in her history. He's not considered a church father, nor even a canonized saint. I mean, for a guy that stopped the persecutions and Christianised the empire, to not have any real honour with the Latin Church must account for how the Church sees Herself i.e not merely a socio-political reforming group of which Constantine would have had the highest honour. Constantine's mother, St. Helena, on the other hand, is considered a saint, and a very famous one at that.

          • Ladolcevipera

            1. My point is that Constantine gave Christianity a boost by putting an end to the persecutions of Christians. Theodosius I forced all his subject to accept Christianity as their religion. Following in the slipstream of a political power has huge consequences .
            You might compare it to the position of f.i. English as a language. It once was a language that was only spoken in a remote corner of Western Europe. After 1066 it almost disappeared. When England became a colonial power and certainly with the hegemony of the U.S. English became more and more important. It has become the world's "lingua franca" (certainly in this discussion, even if it is only my third language). Does this mean that English is superior to other languages? Of course not. It only proofs how political (or economic) power is able to enforce ideas, cultures, languages etc. That is exactly what happened to Christianity.
            2. Maybe Ariasm was right. The Church has smothered a lot of other opinions.

          • Aaron Lopez

            1. The point I'm arguing that you brought up towards the end of your original argument is the idea that the Church was created centuries after Jesus' missionary. No, it wasn't. You can read the New Testament to see how the Apostles actively ran a unified Church. Perhaps 2000 years removed from history, the titles may need to be changed to something like "Bishop St. Paul's letter to the Church of Corinth", because that's exactly how it reads in the text. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church was always around, and doesn't identify nor honour Constantine and Theodosius as fundamental to its historic existence, despite one lifting persecutions, and the other one banning Arianism.

            2. Maybe Arianism was right, if a cursory understanding of the history of Christian doctrine is satisfactory for the cursory reader. But it was always viewed as wrong (it didn't originate with Arius, anyone could mistake Jesus as ontologically subordinate to the Father from reading the New Testament, just as Protestants misread that Paul wasn't a bishop), and here's the semi-cursory explanation: The Church of Alexandria from which Arius came from knew they had a problem on their hands, and was unsuccessful in preventing its exacerbation. It spread towards in the East (it wasn't a huge problem for the West at the time). On the recommendation of a Latin bishop, Constantine convened a synod to end the debate. Arius, merely a priest was heard, and in the end, all but two bishops in attendance accepted the orthodox Nicene Creed. Not many bishops accepted Arianism during the Council, and therefore, all had understood the orthodox Creed that had been codified and bound on that day; codified and bound because of the severity of the heretical spread across the world.

            Arianism continued to plague the East, and Constantine's son was an Arian himself, and purposefully appointed Arian bishops to help spread the heresy. Later, it would transfer to the barbarians. It seems the people who adopted the heresy most readily (politicians and barbarians) weren't of any spiritual authority, but rather quite worldly. Those with spiritual authority (though not necessarily any worldly power) repeatedly affirmed the orthodox understanding of Christ.

            So no, it's not "whoever's in power wins out". Never has been, and the Church doesn't care for temporal power unless it prevents orthodox spirituality. If you dig deeper, even the Popes who held heterodox ideas could not change doctrine one iota. You would think Alexander VI would have preceded Martin Luther in changing doctrine.

          • Ladolcevipera

            1. We are deviating from my original argument. I recapitulate: I am a agnostic/atheist because I cannot accept that a Supreme Being would reveal its nature in one person at one particular point in time. I have more or less exhausted the argument in other discussions. I am getting a bit weary of it.
            I am very much interested in religion but I am by no means an expert in church history and I am certainly not a match for a Catholic, but I do know that Jesus did not found a new Church. At least not as we know it now. He sent out his disciples to spread his word, to evangelize. He also instructed them to "break the bread and drink the wine" to remember Him. That is how the Church slowly began to grow.
            2. How do you know Arius wasn't right? The vote against Arius was the result of debate and research, but human beings may err and many opinions were smothered. Isn't that how the canon was put together?
            3. Marriage equality is a totally different matter.

          • Aaron Lopez

            I think I asked somewhere else how else you would believe God would reveal Himself apart from becoming one particular person at one particular point in time, but I can't find it, and nevertheless, it was a rhetorical question meant for personal contemplation. But it wasn't my intention to gauge you in that, my intention was to gauge you about the creation of the Christian church.

            1) If you are a) not an expert on Church history, and there b) no match for a Catholic in Church history, how can you c) know that Jesus did not found a new Church, and that I should not? It would be the most humiliating failure on my part. Rather, you're making the mistake the Protestants made (and of which they need in order to remain Protestant) that Jesus was some cultish Jew who started a new spiritual trend that's apparently more pagan than Jewish in conduct. Christianity was never some "kumbayah" faith, it was the fulfilment of God's promise that stretched all the way to Moses. And so it retains many of the rituals that were part of Second Temple Judaism.

            2) The vote against Arius wasn't the result of debate and research. The majority of bishops were overwhelmingly in support of the Son being co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. You could even say the council was merely a formality to condemn the infectious heresy. To imagine it as 'debate and research' is the error of displaced 21st century "scholarship" who know nothing of the history of Christology or the history of the Church. For Arius to say the Son is less than the Father, he would completely have had to discount the Gospel of John, and the other bishops in the council knew it, hence the overwhelming majority vote. A second council many years later was convened under Constantius II the Arian sympathiser to open dialogue, but was once again shut down, and the nature of the triune Godhead further reinforced.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Very well then. You are an expert in Church history and I am not. The problem is that there seem to be as many experts in and commentators on Church history as there are currents within Christianity. There are so many interpretations of the same faith and all experts claim to own the God-given truth.
            How can I (an agnostic/atheist for God's sake!) know that Jesus did not found a new Church and you (the expert) should not? Well, I don't. I try to keep an open mind and I listen to what my Catholic friends say - and that is that Jesus did not found a new Church, not the Church as we know it now. We discuss faith (and many other topics), but never in terms of experiencing a "humiliating failure" if we do not succeed in convincing one another. Neither do they appeal to the Magisterium. Our Leitmotiv is indeed: Come now, let us REASON together. The arguments you use only work for people who already believe.

          • Aaron Lopez

            For one, I never claimed to be an expert, though you made the assumption. I believe I do know more than you on this particular topic, but there's so much more to learn on my part.

            Secondly, the assertion that "there seems to be as many experts and commentators on Christianity" is mere conjecture and used as a way to deflect the argument I'm making. Not every opinion or interpretation is equal. There are some scientists, for example, who swear they have proof the world is 6000 years old. I hope you can agree that their proofs should be taken with a grain of salt considering the quality, quantity, and support of arguments to the contrary by other experts who say the world is almost 5 billion years old. It is not to dissimilar when it comes to interpretation of Scripture.

            If your Catholic friends say that Jesus did not found the Church today (and this is your appeal to authority), I'm afraid they don't even know what they are talking about, and more importantly, they aren't faithful Catholics, but instead dissident Catholics, who could potentially fall into heresy like Arius or other Protestants. At every Mass, they would be reciting a version of the Creed, which states that they believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Therefore, they recite that they believe the Catholic Church is the one Jesus Christ founded and handed over to the Apostles. It's a basic tenet of the faith.

            The next time you reason together with your Catholic friends, if you could bring up with them what they believe the Catholic Church is, and how they reconcile the Creed they would recite at Mass with their own personal beliefs to the contrary. I wouldn't mind if you shared their thoughts later on in this thread (just reply after the next time you get together with them).

            I have nothing more to add for the moment, so this is where I will end for now.

            P.S The arguments I use don't just work for people who already believe, otherwise the Catholic Church would never have got off the ground. It would have died with the Apostles and other Jews, if they could not convert the Gentiles.

            P.P.S The magisterium isn't some secret society sitting in a watchtower in the Vatican, which is what you're alluding to. It's the entirety of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition as taught by all the bishops of the world in communion with Rome. There are several levels of magisterium which are not infallible. Wikipedia has a good entry on this which you should read.

          • William Davis

            I agree Constantine didn't organize the Church, but he did way more than just stop persecutions. The fact that Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire cannot be ignored historically.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_the_Great_and_Christianity

          • Kevin Aldrich

            My question still remains: *Why* would God - the transcendent being - reveal Himself in one particular person at one particular time?

            The author of Hebrews gives the answer:

            1 In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

            Obviously, that does not exhaust the subject. In fact, these "many and various ways" also include natural revelation.

          • Ladolcevipera

            That is probably correct, but only in the context of Christian faith. My question still is: why would God reveal himself through Christian faith? In saying that there are "many and various ways" you seem to admit that there are indeed many ways to talk about a transcendent reality. All people have this yearning, but the ways they express it depends on the culture that is theirs. Christianity does not stand above but alongside other religions.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            "Christianity does not stand above but alongside other religions." If you want to assert that, you need to establish it in some way, not just claim it to be true.

            Why would God reveal himself definitively through Christ? If it is true that he has (I believe he has), the best reason is "because he wanted to."

            The Church's longer answer is salvation history. This Catechism point refers to it in the context of the Trinity:

            257 God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness,” conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” through “the spirit of sonship.”

            This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” stemming immediately from Trinitarian love. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.

          • Ladolcevipera

            The reasons you give all come from the Bible, the Church, the Catechism, but those reasons are not acceptable to me. They are exactly the arguments I am questioning.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Then I don't know what you are asking and what for you would constitute evidence.

          • Ladolcevipera

            The reasons you have given me up to now are all within the context of faith. I am an (open minded) agnostic. I wanted to know what makes you think that Christianity is a privileged religion. Answers that only make sense for a Christian are not convincing for a non-believer. I do however understand what you are trying to tell me. At the same time I have a feeling that you are unable to find arguments *outside* your faith. How can we talk then? If one has to *enter* the faith before one can accept arguments in favour of it, it is all a matter of believing. I respect that, but then we are having a dialogue of the deaf.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The answer to your question is not new: it is the preambles of faith. And you do not have to believe before you can accept arguments in favor of it.

            Here is a brief explanation of the preambles of faith from John Hardin's Catholic Dictionary:

            PREAMBLES OF FAITH

            The main premises of reason on which the act of divine faith depends as on its rational foundation. They are mainly three: 1. the existence of God; 2. his authority, or right to be believed because he knows all things and is perfectly truthful; and 3. the fact that he actually made a revelation, which is proved especially by miracles or fulfilled prophecies performed in testimony of a prophet's (or Christ's) claim to speaking in the name of God. (Etym. Latin praeambulus, walking in front: prae, in front + ambulare, to walk.)

          • Ladolcevipera

            I am sorry but I cannot accept as proof what remains still to be proven: the existence of a God with the characteristics ascribed to him by Christian/Catholic faith.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think many different proofs "work" to provide converging and convincing evidence that God exists, but they take a lot of brain power and background knowledge, whether they are based on Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics, more modern philosophical arguments, or philosophical arguments that draw on the findings of modern physics.

            It is also always surprising to hear the argument that even if a proof could show that God exists, there is still an impossible gap between, say, a First Cause and the God Christians uphold, when those philosophers also spin out many attributes of God as consequences of that first proof. Aquinas does this and so does Spitzer, who claims to show "a unique, unconditioned, absolutely simple, unrestricted Creator, [who is also] perfectly truth-filled, loving, good, and beautiful" (NPEG 240).

          • Pofarmer

            Many different proofs are excuses, not evidence. E=Mcsquared is proof of general relativity. You don't need a dozen more. One convincing proof is all it should take.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            E=mc2 is not a proof but an equation. It does not prove itself.

            One of the purposes of a liberal education is to understand how truth is established in different fields. In physics, sometimes one experiment is enough to establish the truth of a theory, since the experiments are so complicated and incredibly expensive. You can't establish the theory of evolution in a mathematical proof. It takes both a theory and lots of different kinds of evidence. Every field has its own way of establishing truth and its own inherent level of truth. No historical truth is ever as certain as a geometric proof.

          • Pofarmer

            The fact that we can use E=Mc2 in a useful way though, reinforces it. The fact that scientists can use Evolution theory(and there are many mathematical models within evolution) can be used to make predictions and observe results, strengthens its proof. And the last part is key. You should be able to make falsifiable predictions based on your theory and evidence and study the results. And, while it's true that we can never truly know history their ARE historical methodologies laid down to help us winnow down events to what actually happened.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            "You should be able to make falsifiable predictions based on your theory and evidence and study the results."

            Only in certain fields.

          • Pofarmer

            Name one.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            In literary analysis of a work of fiction, the critic makes an inference and then tests that inference with evidence from the text.

            History does not predict what happened in the past but proceeds like literary criticism, only the "text" is our knowledge of the past.

            You don't study geometry by making predictions, even though geometry is a tool for making predictions in other fields, like physics.

          • Pofarmer

            But, normally, the "text" is not the only knowledge of our past. Hell, quite often, there is no "text".

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Then I think you should drop you objection to philosophical arguments for the existence for God because they are not just like scientific theories.

          • Pofarmer

            I dont't think your argument got you where you want to go. "Just because not all branches and sciences work identically, therefore we can come up with whatever we like" is not much of an argument.

          • Pofarmer

            You even admitted that geometry makes predictions. And these predictions are applicable both within geometry and in other fields.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            No. Geometry can be used to make a prediction but the field itself is not developed by making predictions.

          • Pofarmer

            You aren't helping yourself here.

          • Pofarmer

            But geometry does make predictions. For example, the 3 angles of a triangle always equal 180 degrees, etc.

          • Ladolcevipera

            The bottom line is that there is no "proof" that God exists. If there were, what else could we do but accept it? Religion is a question of reasonable belief, of faith. And I simply do not have it. I think the First Cause is unknowable, but then I am not sure either. I therefore agree with Wittgenstein: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think if one can grasp that a regress to infinity (whether a temporal chain of causes and effects or whether a series of simultaneous efficient causes) is impossible in actuality, then I think one can conclude that a First Cause must exist. From a First Cause, philosophers then can extrapolate other attributes that this First Cause must also possess.

          • Ladolcevipera

            True. But which attributes would that be? The First Cause may well be a blind force of nature.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Just google Summa contra gentiles and look at the tables of contents.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Thomas is a bit biased, isn't he?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Judging before reading?

          • Ladolcevipera

            I have a degree in philosophy...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            What kind?

          • Ladolcevipera

            M.A. from KU Leuven. It covers everything from ancient and scolastic philosophy to analytical philosophy and of course the European currents. My special interest is metaphysics.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So you think Aquinas' or Spitzer's philosophical proofs are not philosophical?

          • William Davis

            Philosophical proofs are not binding. If they were you would have no grounds for dualism. It is my view that Spinoza disproved the need for a second substance, making angels/heaven/souls impossible.
            You reject Spinoza's proofs about God being the one substance of the universe, and we reject Aquinas and Spitzers's proofs. Philosophical proofs are a far cry from mathematical proofs.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I see a connection between your first and last sentences but the rest looks incoherent to me. I have on idea how one sentence leads to another or what holds them together as the development of some claim.

          • William Davis

            I guess I assumed you are more familiar with philosophy. Here is Spinoza's proof of God (monism as opposed to Christian dualism..i.e. Christians dualism is the view that there are two substances, one is the material universe. the other God/angels/heaven.

            In propositions one through fifteen of Part One, Spinoza presents the basic elements of his picture of God. God is the infinite, necessarily existing (that is, uncaused), unique substance of the universe. There is only one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else that is, is in God.

            Proposition 1: A substance is prior in nature to its affections.

            Proposition 2: Two substances having different attributes have nothing in common with one another. (In other words, if two substances differ in nature, then they have nothing in common).

            Proposition 3: If things have nothing in common with one another, one of them cannot be the cause of the other.

            Proposition 4: Two or more distinct things are distinguished from one another, either by a difference in the attributes [i.e., the natures or essences] of the substances or by a difference in their affections [i.e., their accidental properties].

            Proposition 5: In nature, there cannot be two or more substances of the same nature or attribute.

            Proposition 6: One substance cannot be produced by another substance.

            Proposition 7: It pertains to the nature of a substance to exist.

            Proposition 8: Every substance is necessarily infinite.

            Proposition 9: The more reality or being each thing has, the more attributes belong to it.

            Proposition 10: Each attribute of a substance must be conceived through itself.

            Proposition 11: God, or a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence, necessarily exists. (The proof of this proposition consists simply in the classic “ontological proof for God's existence”. Spinoza writes that “if you deny this, conceive, if you can, that God does not exist. Therefore, by axiom 7 [‘If a thing can be conceived as not existing, its essence does not involve existence’], his essence does not involve existence. But this, by proposition 7, is absurd. Therefore, God necessarily exists, q.e.d.”)

            Proposition 12: No attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided.

            Proposition 13: A substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible.

            Proposition 14: Except God, no substance can be or be conceived.

            This proof that God—an infinite, necessary and uncaused, indivisible being—is the only substance of the universe proceeds in three simple steps. First, establish that no two substances can share an attribute or essence (Ip5). Then, prove that there is a substance with infinite attributes (i.e., God) (Ip11). It follows, in conclusion, that the existence of that infinite substance precludes the existence of any other substance. For if there were to be a second substance, it would have to have someattribute or essence. But since God has all possible attributes, then the attribute to be possessed by this second substance would be one of the attributes already possessed by God. But it has already been established that no two substances can have the same attribute. Therefore, there can be, besides God, no such second substance.

            If God is the only substance, and (by axiom 1) whatever is, is either a substance or in a substance, then everything else must be in God. “Whatever is, is in God, and nothing can be or be conceived without God” (Ip15). Those things that are “in” God (or, more precisely, in God's attributes) are what Spinoza calls modes.

            As soon as this preliminary conclusion has been established, Spinoza immediately reveals the objective of his attack. His definition of God—condemned since his excommunication from the Jewish community as a “God existing in only a philosophical sense”—is meant to preclude any anthropomorphizing of the divine being. In the scholium to proposition fifteen, he writes against “those who feign a God, like man, consisting of a body and a mind, and subject to passions. But how far they wander from the true knowledge of God, is sufficiently established by what has already been demonstrated.” Besides being false, such an anthropomorphic conception of God can have only deleterious effects on human freedom and activity, insofar as it fosters a life enslaved to hope and fear and the superstitions to which such emotions give rise.

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think you comment is still incoherent. If you think a philosophical proof has valid premises and correct logic, then it is intellectually binding, at least it should be on you.

            So if Spinoza is correct, then what you call dualism could not be correct.

            It would be irrational to reject either view unless you thought it was actually false. Just because two seemingly conflicting views reject each other does not have much merit. We have to look at each view and each's reasoning.

          • William Davis

            Feel free to try to find an objection to Spinoza's proof of monism. Without divine revelation, I can think of no good reason at all to propose a second substance. Thus, Occam's razor slices it away.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So now you are saying philosophical proofs *are* binding?

          • William Davis

            No, you are. Obviously you aren't obligated to reject Catholicism over Spinoza, unless you think you are of course :)
            The problem is usually with the premises, and we can't be certain of premises without empiricism (i.e. data). That's the core problem with rationalism as such. I think objective truth is only accessible via a combination of reason and empirical data. Pure rationalism can be useful for devising ways of looking at the world, and asking the right questions (science came about by asking the right questions).
            All that said, I accept Spinoza's proof of God because it gives me a very good perspective on what is, and what I am.
            One empirical evidence for Spinozism is the fact that matter and energy are the same substance (E=mc2). Another is that space has properties like a substance, it seems to bend in presence of matter. Neurology strongly points to the mind being completely material (I can go into all kinds of brain damage that effect intelligence, decision, making, all the the things the soul was thought to do). Materialism isn't a problem when that material IS God :) In other words, Spinozism intuitively makes sense to me, but it may not to you.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Wherever did you get that idea? I am not familiar with Spitzer, but Aquinas is a brilliant philosopher - - within the context of Christian faith.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Unless I am hallucinating, you are making the claim that we can't know anything about God purely through reason beyond that he is a first cause (I'm not actually sure you even think there is a first cause.)

          • Ladolcevipera

            You are not hallucinating.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            So, what is wrong with Aquinas on the attributes of God?

          • Ladolcevipera

            His strong point is that he accepts that one can deduce the existence of God and his attributes through reason. My problem with Aquinas is that he cannot live with negativity; he cannot accept that the concept of God might exceed the human mind. God has to reveal himself so that man can grasp some of the characteristics that cannot otherwise be deduced. So, Aquinas is a "christian philosopher", which is a contradictio in terminis.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't know what you are talking about. I thought Aquinas says we can know a lot about God by considering what he is not as well as by what he is (compared to human beings) by analogy.

            If you are talking about the doctrine of the Trinity, that is not philosophical but Revelation.

          • Ladolcevipera

            Exactly. He needs Revelation to complete the concept/idea of God. In philosophy to appeal to something other than reason is cheating.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            When he is taking about the Trinity he is doing theology. When he is talking about simplicity he is doing philosophy. What is the "cheating"?

            Why would anyone assume that God could be entirely "captured" by reason?

          • Ladolcevipera

            God can be "captured" by reason up to a point. That is the domain of philosophy. An Infinite Being or Supreme Being (or whatever one wants to call this X) exceeds the human mind. As Wittgenstein says: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent". And so we are back to negative theology.

          • Pofarmer

            Still waiting for those last days. Apocalypses are fun.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The last age means the age or era of the Church, not the apocalypse.

          • Pofarmer

            Of course it does.

          • Aaron Lopez

            Out of interest, how do you think a transcendent being would reveal Himself eternally to human beings?

            It does seem absolutely strange that the one true God would reveal himself 2000 years ago as a Jewish carpenter in the Roman Empire, who in turn kept referring of the sole authority between His Father, Himself the Son, and the gift that is the Holy Spirit and that every other system of belief is irrevocably wrong. I believe St. Paul got laughed out of Greek philosophical institutions as recorded in the Acts for mentioning it.

            I'm a Roman Catholic who attends the Latin Mass, and trust me, that's the question you contemplate on at every Holy Sacrifice. Could an eternal God have done it another way? Yes. Did he do it that way? No. Why? Who knows.

          • Ladolcevipera

            I do not belief that "God", the transcendent fullness of being, revealed Himself. We can only speak of Him in negative terms.

  • AJK

    Thank you Steven Hemler,

    Indeed "Our Hearts are restless until they rest in you"

    Good article, reminds me of Peter Kreeft's book "The Philosophy of Jesus", I believe it would make a great follow up read.

    http://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Jesus-Peter-Kreeft/dp/1587316358/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432916567&sr=8-1&keywords=the+philosophy+of+Jesus

    • Mila

      St. Augustine said that, right? Or was it Thomas Merton?

      • William Davis

        It was Augustine.

        I would like to apologize to you if I made you think I was insulting motherhood. As I showed below, I tried repeatedly to convince you that was not what I was saying, and yet you continued to ignore me. Do you not believe me? Or did you fail to remember the rest of our conversation because it was more emotionally charged? Did you forget you stated:

        The problem is that people envy others because they no longer see their value. Women envy men, (though in the case of women ordination is just an attempt to destroy priesthood), and men envy women. They have each lost their identity and self-worth

        As a woman, I can tell you that I would decline being a priest, bishop, or Pope any day for just 9 months of an uncomfortable pregnacy and a lifetime of motherhood.

        Accusing people of envy as a general rule really struck me the wrong way. Also accusing women of attempting to "destroy the priesthood" just because they want to have a say in theological matters really struck me the wrong way. I can tell you for certain that is NOT their goal. If one wanted to destroy the priesthood, they wouldn't want to be a priest.

        Did I understand you wrong? If so, enlighten me. Is there anything else I can say to make it more clear that I wasn't attacking mother? I'm willing to forgive and move on if you are. I'm also willing to accept that you inferred something I didn't mean to imply. In general I'd prefer to think better of you than I currently do, because of what you said here. Only you can help me with this.

        • Mila

          Don't worry.
          I don't see how motherhood could be inferior than being a lawyer or a priest or a scientists, etc (btw priest is not a position of power but of servitude).
          But this subject is not related to this posting so I won't go into detail. All I'm saying is that it is hard to talk to someone who reacted the way you did based on the comment that I made about motherhood.

          • William Davis

            You said much more than just "I like being a mother". I just quoted it. I found it deeply offensive that you say such things about the motives of women who want to be priests.
            I'm done. It's probably good you mentioned it here, now that I have rehashed the original quote. In fact, you comment would make for some great anti-Catholic propaganda:
            "See what Catholic women say about other women who want to be more than just mothers." I think I'll use your comment again ;)

      • AJK

        Yes, St. Augustine :)

      • Kevin Aldrich

        N.B., these things are easily googled.

    • William Davis

      This is off topic, but upvoting your own comments appears somewhat narcissistic to many people (myself including). Your comments make you appear to be a nice person, so just take this with a grain of salt :)

      • AJK

        You're right! heh, my bad

      • AJK

        You're right! heh, my bad. Thanks :)

  • What is being identified here is that humans have a tendency to be unsatisfied in certain contexts. I am not at all convinced that we have desires for the "perfections" identified here. Certainly in some circumstances we desire more love or more beauty, but I don't really know what perfect beauty is, so I can't say I know if I desire it. But when I experience love and beauty I don't often find myself longing for more.

    But I don't see why having these desires entails that the perfection of the kind of thing desired exists. Nor do I see why we would consider these perfections transcendent or theistic.

    I can easily understand how we might evolve these and similar desires, and a tendency to always want to improve. I also think it is quite plausible for these desires and tendencies to be socially derived, and likely a mixture of both.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      In reading your comments over the past two years, I can't think of anyone who is more filled with unfulfilled longings for truth.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    I would recommend that anyone interested read Spitzer's fuller treatment of these ideas in Healing the Culture and New Proofs for the Existence of God.

    I find these five desires to be completely real and in some ways my most profound motivations. I think they do point to God in the sense that human beings really do want these things and that there is no fulfillment of them in this life. If they are ever going to be fulfilled then it must be in the next one (because it sure ain't in this one). I think these are why man is a naturally religious being who needs God to exist.

    That being said, just because we need something does not mean we are going to get it. I can imagine that desires have arisen in man that cannot ever be fulfilled. I hope they will be.

    • Well, they did leave out one, and perhaps it is the most obvious, or it may even be a kind of synthesis of the 'five'. Indeed happiness is considered by the Buddhists to be the state of bliss achieved with enlightenment within the 'nothingness/emptiness' of Nirvana. (Could this be a state of consciousness, comparable to the non-materiality I am trying to understand with respect to the Aristotelean soul") Or maybe all this talk is another confusion between epistemology and ontology, but that really would be off-topic. Anyway, here's the post I found on New Advent today. Enjoy. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2015/05/whats-your-happiness-level.html

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Fr. Spitzer's four levels of happiness is a related (and I think brilliant) treatment of human happiness and the limitations the first two. I think all the transcendals belong to his 4th level.

        I think from a Christian point of view, a state of complete of "emptiness or nothingness" could never be the case. The fulfillment of the five desires would more likely be the state of complete "fullness or everythingness."

        • Yes. I understand the fulfillment of past, future, within the present, something which could perhaps be considered 'the' eternal moment. I don't understand whether this is necessarily an either/or when it comes to various ways of thinking about the 'transcendent' and the 'immanent'. Perhaps even within a different terminology, and psychological basis and world view, it is possible that what the Buddhist nirvana refers to is not 'that different' from our own. I don't really know as I've 'never been there'!!! In any case, this would require a rather long discussion, don't you think? The more I read however, the more I find the possibility that there might be more congruence between some of these perspectives, than I had previously expected.. Keep with the music, there. (Did I remember correctly?)

      • Deleted this, because I found it posted in the wrong place. Thanks.

  • David Nickol

    I am afraid that none of this resonates with me. I am beginning to think that is the hallmark of apologetic arguments—lack of either intellectual or emotional appeal (or lack of both intellectual and emotional appeal). Rarely are they original or provocative. We have covered this ground numerous times before. C. S. Lewis quotes often figure in apologetic pieces, and having read most of C. S. Lewis's books when I was younger, I think it would be a lot more profitable to go and reread some of them than read the work of people who quote him to bolster their own attempts at apologetics.

    These five transcendental desires are our yearning for: (1) perfect
    knowledge/truth, (2) perfect love, (3) perfect justice/goodness, (4)
    perfect beauty, and (5) perfect home/being.

    How many people have these yearnings? Knock out the word perfect from each one and I'll acknowledge that many people seek knowledge, love, justice, beauty, and "home," but I can't even imagine what, say, "perfect" beauty would be, let alone long for it.

    The assumption is that the longings we have are "written in our hearts" by God. It seems to me that the most basic human desires are biological (e.g., hunger) but the ones discussed here have little to do with what is "written in our hearts" (or what is biological or innate) and a great deal to do with culture. For most of us, the culture in which we were raised was heavily influenced by Christianity, and so it a certain extent, Christianity has planted into the culture a kind of longing for "perfection," which it then turns around and offers as proof that there is a God.

    • AJK

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NMex7qk5GU
      Fr. Robert Barron, “Aquinas and Why the New Atheists are Right"

      For consideration,

      • AJK

        Also, I bet you would truly find the book by Peter Kreeft's (A Philosophy professor of Boston College) entitled "The Philosophy of Jesus" to be very much worth the read - I really feel so.

      • I watched this when it was first posted. One of his better lectures, I found. Very interesting. I prefer this to his analysis of pop culture.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I just had lunch with a young friend who is completing a Ph.D. in medieval philosophy. He said that metaphysics is hard to understand. True that. But I would add that for me, so are physics, chemistry, molecular biology, geometry, and lots of other things.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      How do you think Christianity has planted in our culture a longing for perfection at affects people? After all, you said you don't have it yourself: "none of this resonates with me."

    • GCBill

      "For most of us, the culture in which we were raised was heavily
      influenced by Christianity, and so it a certain extent, Christianity has
      planted into the culture a kind of longing for "perfection," which it
      then turns around and offers as proof that there is a God."

      Yes, this!

      This is the same evidential Ouroboros that shows up in some Catholic Natural Law arguments. Christianity adamantly teaches that X is always wrong, and apologists will cite widespread rejection of X as evidence for implicit moral knowledge. But why should we believe that if Christianity is making strong contributions to opinions about X? To be fair, (for any X) they might be right that X is always wrong, but because religion has the potential to shape people's moral reasoning, we should expect people to believe X is wrong regardless of whether or not it is. It's not exactly circular reasoning because the conclusion is not embedded in the premises, but the alleged evidence is undercut (devoured) by the conclusion.

  • Kraker Jak

    Desire for Perfect Knowledge/Truth

    • William Davis

      The solution to your cartoon is learning to trust your intuition ;)

  • Papalinton

    This OP has all the hallmarks indistinguishable from New Age spiritualism spruiked by Deepak Chopra et al. Indeed Hemler's piece sits very comfortably within that genre of belief. Of course none of it accords with established knowledge and understanding founded on researched fact, evidence or proofs. It is in essence a form of intuitive apologetical hokum preached as 'reality' when in fact in many respects it is harmful to persons who take them seriously. This form of OP restrains the ill-informed person to a state of perpetual intellectual childhood. As the Swiss psychologist Piaget discovered, and onto which psychology and the neurosciences have built a prodigious profile in the theory of mind, is that 'children pass through an intuitive phase before they reach a phase of rational thought.' And it is during this phase that children "just know" things to be true which in fact are not true.
    Hemler offers: "C.S. Lewis stated in Mere Christianity, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food... If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” as a justifying rationale for his perspective. But it is no more a rationale for a 'most probable explanation' than invoking childlike intuition. Lewis's conflation of biologically-driven 'desires' with nonsense about otherwordly feelings is simply naive.

    Given the influence that the Hemler's and Chopra's of this world exercise on the unsuspecting and untutored reader it is important and necessary to expose this as thoroughly apologetical wishlisting onto which the notion of a God is appended as some sort of supernumerary motivating agent.

    I say to Hemmler, get a grip on yourself before posting fiction as reality.

    • Michael Murray

      I say to Hemmler, get a grip on yourself before posting fiction as reality.

      Catholic's aren't allowed to do that. It affects their vision.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Abuse.

        • Michael Murray

          I think you mean self-abuse ? That's what we used to call it.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Oh.

    • Fiction? What is fiction? Possibly, in consideration of the fictional characteristics of the transcendental schemata one can discount the possibility that there can be much more fiction in the world than one might acknowledge.. After all, surely as individuals 'we can know (through science) the truth'. I would also not downplay intuition, as within the transcendentals adapted by Kant. Intuition is related to 'judgment', to the intuitions of space and time, as well as being essential to our perception of empirical reality. So Piaget is actually building on this concept: that intuition does 'precede' reason. However, sometimes it is difficult to see the particular rather than, or because of our absorption within the general or universal; the concept or theory which governs how we look at the world.. So things can actually work in the reverse 'order'! Have you ever seen the video where they ask you to count the number of passes made on a basketball count and they then demonstrate that while concentrating on this you have missed seeing the ape walk across the room? Of course, it is 'reasonable' to be thankful that the ape is not a man/god, and I don't buy a lot of popular spirituality, but I also think it is important to develop an inner awareness. Indeed I am attempting to come to a more developed consciousness on this whole issue. Granted, weighing AT against reductionism can get one into a bit of difficulty. But I'm not sure that these things can be understood through some abstract intellectualism. Indeed, could it not be that this is part of the problem as within the Barron video shown within this post. Oh yes.he says: atheist/agnostics surely do have something 'right', and so I respectfully consider that the opposite could also obtain, that there 'can' be some truth within speculative/imaginative thought.

      I have found through experience that it is difficult, and some say impossible to know one's own mind. So I'm with you: How then can there be such seeming 'certainty within abstract intellectual speculation 'about the 'mind of God' And I have long been aware of the thesis that God is but a projection of self-consciousness. What is reported within a seeming incoherence can be described as a mere megalomania, while the insights ascribed to a Socrates or a Buddha could be described as mystical revelations. Is it not possible that even these distinctions do not 'necessarily' convey the 'truth' with respect to what constitutes consciousness or how consciousness is constituted..

      And none of this explains 'how' thought happens, and it is the 'how' that I understand to be the domain of science. I did see a video excerpt of a brain scan done in conjunction with a continual report of the thoughts of the subject under study. Is that the best or only way to find empirical evidence for 'how' consciousness works? If so, I have my doubts about whether science too is able to provide a conclusive answer to the question: What is consciousness? So I read philosophy, and post questions to you and Father Barron. Then recently I read: Terminus a quo. Terminus a quem. Thoughts on the transcendental in a dialogue known as The Continental Divide. A most interesting debate, but as usual, one that I cannot say I understand completely, if only because, both would acknowledge consciousness to be, each in its own way, an ever- continuous on-going process. Thanks. It really helps me to have someone to whom I can direct my attempts to find coherence on these subjects. I do find contradictions, etc. etc. in the perspectives even of Catholic orthodoxy. So.....!!!!!

      • Kevin Aldrich

        I think you are right that intuition often proceeds reason. It is the pre-rational "leap" that reason can later examine. Scientists use intuition all the time. It is one of the bases of scientific progress.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I don't think so, despite your unrestrained abusive frustration.

      As a child, I had these longings for love, goodness, beauty, truth, and so on. I could not name them or even articulate what I was seeking. Then, as I passed out of this Piagetian stage, I rationally reflected on them. That's what grown ups do. That is something Spitzer has done to a very high level. Hemler's OP is just the briefest resume of that.

  • Kraker Jak

    Our yearning for “more” leave us with an emptiness that only God can fill.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I agree with this statement.

  • Pofarmer

    This is Just. So. Stupid. Do any of you guys read any cognitive or evolutionary neuroscience at all?

    • Kraker Jak

      do any of you guys read any cognitive or evolutionary neuroscience at all?

      What a silly question. I think the answer must be a resounding yes since we can assume that the Desire for Perfect Knowledge/Truth, is such an obviously strong driver, I can't imagine those interested in truth wanting to ignore something so important.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      This is an abusive comment. It is also without support.

      • Pofarmer

        I can't help that it's dumb. Pointing that out hardly seems abusive when many of things listed here are also noted in other species and explainable as natural urges. I know science is scary for you, but this isn't going to convince anyone who has read even a smidgeon of current writings. It's preaching to the choir, and a pretty closed minded choir at that.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          If you know "science is scary" for me, you don't know me.

          • Pofarmer

            Oh, you can rationalize and ignore and "ground of being" with the best if them.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            ??

      • Pofarmer

        Oh, and it's not abusive. It's dismissive.

      • Kraker Jak

        One thing that I can say, is that my hat is off to Brandon and other mods for their relative patience in the allowance of so many comments of late that formerly may have been deleted...and their authors possibly banned. Small blessings are appreciated even by non theists. Thank you Brandon.

        • He is 'the good Overlord'!!!!! (an acceptance of all of these polarities!!!!???)

    • Peter

      Whether the desire for perfection is evolutionary is irrelevant. What matters is that it's exclusive to humans. Even if it is evolutionary, it doesn't preclude the likelihood that God designed it that way just for human beings.

      • Michael Murray

        Our cat shows definite signs of wanting to climb arbitrarily high structures.

        • Peter

          Cats have an instinct to go for birds, so it's not surprising.

      • Pofarmer

        The point is, these behaviors are NOT exclusive to humans. Take your head out of the bucket the Church has it in and look around a little. The world is a whole lot more interesting.

        • Peter

          What animal behaviour indicates a desire for perfection?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Where are the moderators of this site?

          "Take your head out of the bucket the Church has it in"?

          • Pofarmer

            Kevin, everywhere in the comments all I see is "Goddidit". It's like ya'll have never heard if Occams Razor? Where we have a well rounded naturaistic explanation, that is always the simpler, and prefererred, explanation. However, what I see continually from both posters and Authors on this site, is that you never even look for the naturalistic explanation. You stop at "Goddidit" or whatever your preferred theistic explanation is. It's like you have your head in a bucket that limits your options to a very small set if answers. It could also be called Goggles with a God shaped hole. You only see ine answer because that is the only answer you are looking for, or will except. In so many cases it renders you irrelevant.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I have not seen a naturalistic account for the transcendentals here. Why don't you provide one?

          • Kraker Jak

            It's like ya'll have never heard if Occams Razor?

            Or the zebra rule?.
            If you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras.or unicorns.

  • Thank you Michael Davis for expressing interest in my attempts to develop an essay on this subject. I am daring to post this here, rather than as a direct response to you, in order to test whether my belief that there is at least 'some coherence' is justified. Thanks all. (This is not on the list of required reading.)

    The concept 'transcendental' has many possible meanings. It can refer to
    what is beyond space and time; it may refer to the inner experiences of
    mind in relation to the external world, or it may mean the overcoming of
    an obstacle. Such distinction may thus be placed within considerations
    of what can be regarded as fact in contrast to fictions, words which
    also have multiple meanings. I hope to explore just a few possibilites
    in relation to these concepts.

    This will be a discussion, not an argument, of the implications of a
    dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale In contrast to this religious example, a contrary position is offered, based on a movie called The Avengers, but in order to fill out the
    story of the AI theme it is placed within the context of the ideal
    grounds for raising children enunciated by Plato in his Republic. If
    you recall, he held that raising children was too important a task to be
    assigned to 'parent(s)'., and thus should be placed within the
    jurisdiction of the Republic. Within parallel considerations of issues
    within today's society, we can take note that this was also the age when
    Oedipus as a child was abandoned on a mountain, and high ranking
    officials were allowed to commit suicide in order to avoid even loss of
    face.

    The 'story' proposed, but unlike The Handmaiden, (not actually written),
    would consider the possibility of a situation in which childbearing by a woman is no longer considered to be essential,. efficient or necessary in a world governed by self-programming robots who have adopted the scientific method in order to guarantee a perfectly ordered state. There is after all, cloning, technology and over
    population, and within the perspective of the superior intelligence of
    the computers this is particularly relevant with respect to those
    irresponsible 'humans'. Well, not much detail here but hopefully the
    plot presents The Avenger as having returned within an appropriate
    context relative to the concerns of the women's liberation. Do you think hopefully I could sell the idea? I could use a few 'bucks'.

    Within both stories there is a major focus on the placement of contrasting
    negative perspectives on women, a theme which remains a primary concern
    within various feminist movements.These constitute the empirical, or
    rather factual, or mental data; within this attempt to examine or become more subjectively aware of specific thought processes involved and invoked when thinking about the concept of transcendence. There are other issues obviously related to
    our times, but with a little imaginative thought I suggest the reader can contribute his/her
    own ideas to make up for the omissions resulting from limited time and
    space.

    Within the context of over-riding theories attitudes, presumptions, or even
    cognitive bias, this perhaps can be considered in some way as
    theoretical in relation to factual empirical, despite any possible
    difficult with respect to identifying what would be the most appropriate
    category in which to place a thought. In any event, surely it would be
    justified to regard such concerns within the context of general
    theories both the structure and meaning. 'transcendence'

    So is this merely a fiction? What is a fiction? Is such a scenario a
    possibility, either as idea of fact? Do these disclosures, whether
    fiction or not, increase the potential for their actualization. Can we
    ever find a precise indication that, whether, as fact or fiction,
    such considerations anticipate, or indeed predict or guarantee the
    actuality of a specific 'future', despite any thought of absurdity
    within the idea that we can ever know what might actually develop
    within in this world?

    As an illustration of mere possibility, could anyone have had precise
    conscious awareness with respect to what retroactively can be regarded
    as the rise of the 'mythos' of the Master Race, which (together with
    the opposite Marxist interpretation) is now considered to be a possible
    consequence of the philosophy of Hegel? Can such a questions be
    'scientifically' predicted, or religiously prophesied within either the
    context of fiction or fact?

    Neitzsche I understand rejected Christianity because of the servitude he felt
    was characteristic within a relationship he identified with the image
    of the shepherd and his flock. Far more preferable was a world of
    science, reason, and self-governance by the individual. This could be
    regarded, I suggest as a governing transcendental concept, although I do not believe it's specific nature has been identified through this description. Yet, following his
    example, some Post-Moderns, also laud the example of the ancient
    Romans, Greeks and the pre-Socrates. For this is/was the age they
    identify as the first culture to be based on a scientific philosophical
    perspective rather than one based on a religious worldview.

    Yet would not such a perspective be classified, without contest, as being
    more subjective than objective, if those were the parameters were
    related primarily to cultural interests? To reiterate, this
    historical perspective is a development of Neitzsche's idea, promoted
    as a kind of 'renaissance', a deliberate restructuring and
    reformulation of past events, an idea initiated by Neitzsche,. directed
    towards a future consolidation of multiple possibilities; a
    theoretical framework that is identified with a specific teleology.

    I shall however, merely note that within the above contexts,
    transcendental ideal involved within the philosophic ideologies
    includes within its conception the attainment of some kind of better
    world, or perfected 'state' although both its origins and focus remains
    within a construct of the temporal order., and the teleology is
    directed more to the universal than to the particular.. By contrast, it
    is generally considered that the religious perspective of a
    transcendental purpose is primarily directed to some understanding of
    the 'eternal'. But within Catholicism perhaps there is a basis for multiple interpretations
    in this regard, for the concept of transcendental is not consistently or explicitly associated with either the eternal or temporal, leading possibly to a subsequent confusion (or mystery) as to the possibility or meaning of a disembodied immaterial human soul awaiting a glorified bodily resurrection within a heaven on earth. (to be continued.)

    • Part Two.

      There is, within the context of Kant's philosophy, a. division between empirical
      realities and transcendental idealities, the latter of course being
      identified within the Christian context as a reality. This fundamental
      difference between AT and Modern philosophy, therefore would constitutes
      the major distinction within their relevant concepts of transcendence.

      In both stories, The Handmaiden and the Avengers, motherhood is placed
      within a context in which her 'person' is undervalued. Those who are depicted
      within the Atwood example would defend the Christian patriarch and the
      transcendentals. . Within the context of the Avengers, is it possible
      that Neitzsche would reconsider the negation of tne traditional
      transcendentals if he had been aware of how his philosophy would later be interpreted, as an emphasis on the state rather than the individual. How is it
      that there can arise a constant confusion between what can be understood
      as the inner world of consciousness, and the external world of
      empirical reality?

      How could the function of motherhood no longer be considered
      necessary but rather an impediment to a higher order established by a
      rule of 'robots', not only within the domain of law,, but within the
      biological sphere of science, rather than on any human, rational or
      innate characteristics, particularly that of some kind of possible
      perfection? indeed, does the idea of 'perfection' necessarily demand
      the idea of 'transcendence' as a metaphysical 'absolute, within the
      concept of 'perfection'. Is there be confusion in this regard
      between improving one's ability to do a particular task, (teche, art,
      or technology) and the prerequisites assumed as necessary for the
      development of virtue,for instance, or character, more properly
      associated with human consciousness per se?

      Thus ideas of Nazism of Nazism, for instance, could indeed be regarded as a
      kind of religious mythos which could be compared to a fictional representation such as that described in its adaptation to the ideas presented within the story of The Avengers? Are the ideas of love, home, truth, beauty, and goodness, the transcendentals presented in this blog to be equated with a concept of imagination only arising from the reproductive rather than the productive imagination, for example, as would be the case if the concept of God was truly a fiction and limited generally identified with the ideas which arise within the sphere of aesthetics and literature alone?.But even within this distinction, is there not the possibility of confusion with respect to the relationship between consciousness and 'the world', as well as a possible lack of awareness and understanding regarding the effect of our ideas in either case?

      For me, at least, this question remains one I still have to think
      about. Yet, I do not believe I have the capacity to imagine the concept
      of 'perfection' when placed within a relationship to the category
      of 'transcendence' within a Platonic context alone. Perhaps, to
      counter the Catholic explanation, there could be some kind of modal
      linguistic operative that perhaps demands always something more from
      me as a result of these concepts being placed in juxtaposition. Is it
      the linguistic idea or the consciousness of the thought that requires a
      primacy of focus in any particular case?
      .
      Who can explain to me 'how' I think. Yet, even within this limitation, I am aware of the importance of developing the capacity to think 'good thoughts', and the
      need to be directed to a higher development within the sphere we call
      'personhood'. . Is it the aspiration towards the transcendent within
      the individual more relevant within such a context, or is it the focus
      on the transcendent, specifically regarded as 'Other' that is primary? Or is there a necessary interaction between the two?.

      Will I ever find it possible to define possible delusions within the
      compass of such philosophical distinctions as what is the 'real', and
      what is 'ideal'; between what Kant called the phenomena and what within
      his philosophy is unknowable, the noumena? But the idealistic philosophers following Hegel were unable to find even the Buddhist ideal, and so there developed the various schools of neo-Kantianism, from the analytic scientific philosophers, to the post-modernism of Heidegger. in the late 19th century. Within this context the debate continued as to whether or not God is indeed 'dead'.

      But then I think of all the work being done in an attempt to understand
      both language and consciousness. In this context I wonder whether
      these philosophers have found a relationship between them that can be
      explicated? And then I question again: What do these continental
      philosophers want? What are they thinking, as they contemplate
      these transcendentals within a context that has been referred to as
      the 'death of logos'?

      I trust you understand how Judea-Christian traditions and pagan
      philosophy were integrated, but is it possibly questionable whether a
      true synthesis has ever been attained. Perhaps the death of god,
      refers to religion and the death of the logos refers to philosophy. I
      can only speculate. Perhaps new meaning, interpretation and indeed
      structure will be appended to such concepts as the resurrection within
      Christianity, and the 'end' of philosophy will be understood to
      constitute a goal or purpose. In any case, surely even these ideas
      have something to do with how we think of 'transcendentals'.

  • One needs to establish that, on theism, it is more likely that
    humans would have a desire for perfect knowledge compared to on
    naturalism. I have explained below why I think it is not unlikely on
    naturalism, but I think we have no reason to believe that a god would
    want such a desire in humans. He may, but is this not problematic for
    Christians particularly? Would not perfect knowledge include the
    knowledge of good and evil, which was specifically prohibited by Yahweh
    in Genesis? Would not this then mean that humans were designed to have a
    desire that would go contrary to God's clear injunction? In other
    words, we were designed with a universal desire to sin?

  • Matt Brigh

    It is telling that the only examples you can find for three of your ‘desires’ are expressed in children. Some of us grow beyond them.

    Perfect knowledge? No. I desire the continuous flux and updating of my worldview that comes with finding out new things about the world and the people in it - the idea of that somehow coming to a halting state horrifies me

    Perfect, unconditional love? No. Ugh. I desire the messy, conditional love of other humans and its ongoing complexity. Two people (or more, if they think they can make it work, I guess) committing to continuously re-examine themselves and their world in the light of each others’ experiences trumps some placid, beatific glorying in each others’ existence by miles.

    Perfect Justice? No. It can only be achieved if the human situation becomes fixed, which would be awful. Again, the messy, negotiable flux of human thought in different situations is much to be preferred.

    Perfect beauty? Don’t know what it means. Beauty, yes, but again, can you imagine the horror of seeing something that would make everything else seem less.

    Perfect Home/Being? No. Again, to the extent that it means anything it would imply the end of the messy flux, chaos and continual wandering of human existence - and if I am on the side of anything, it is flux. chaos and continual wandering.

    Your desires are not universal - merely the desires of a particular kind of mind that seeks stillness, order and simplicity. I do not have that kind of mind, so I have none of them, and have a joyful time as a human being in the world.

  • Mathematicians often speak of the 'perfect' line--an object that has length, but no width and depth, and extending to infinity in both directions. No such object actually exists in real life...does that mean math "proves" God? Of course not.

    You say that these five desires are not necessary for survival, when it seems clear to me that more knowledge, more justice, more love, and a better home are in fact directly related to survival, and more beauty might be directly related to survival. It certainly is directly related to well-being. It is perfectly natural that humans should pursue these ideas whether or not there's a god.

    And what does perfect mean? Does that mean something that you couldn't possibly improve? We nearly always can find something that could be improved in our circumstances...but does that necessarily prove that there's a realm out there somewhere that circumstances can't be improved? That seems like quite a leap, to me.

    It sounds like you're preaching a version of Christianity that teaches people to be constantly unsatisfied.