• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions

What Questions Do You Have for Catholics and Atheists?

Questions

Today we're excited to introduce a new initiative at Strange Notions, and we need your help! We call it the "Two Views" Series. Here's how it works:
 

Step 1 - Submit Questions

In the comment box of this post, we invite you to ask a specific question you would like answered by both a Catholic and an atheist. The question should be limited and original. Nobody is going to be able to answer the question "Does God exist?" or "Is Christianity true?" in a short article. Instead, the questions should be more like "Should we teach religious truths to children?" or "Is religious experience valid, subjective evidence for God?" The questions are best framed with a Yes/No approach.

You're also welcome to pose questions that only atheists or only Catholics can answer. For example, two atheists could square off on "Do objective moral truths exist? or two Catholics could respond to "Can philosophy prove the universe had a beginning?" If you prefer your question be asked by two atheists or two Catholics, just note that alongside your question.

Finally, if you would like a specific person to answer your question, include his or her name and we'll do our best to accommodate the request.
 

Step 2 - Vote on Your Favorite Questions

Here's the important step. Vote for your favorite questions by clicking the "up" arrow underneath the comment that contains it. This will "vote up" the question and tell us it's a popular one. We'll assume that the more votes a question receives, the more are people interested in it. We'll keep the voting open for one week.
 

Step 3 - Invite Catholics and Atheists to Respond

After a week of voting, we'll then select a handful of the highest-voted questions and pose them to top Catholic and atheist thinkers, based on their area of expertise. Each respondent will offer a short article in reply (roughly 750-1,000 words), and we'll post the two responses side-by-side for all of us to read and discuss.
 
 
So with all that in mind, please leave your questions in the comment box below! (Feel free to submit more than one question, but only submit one question per comment so we can vote on them individually.)

 

 

(Image credit: Precision Nutrition)

Brandon Vogt

Written by

Brandon Vogt is a bestselling author, blogger, and speaker. He's also the founder of StrangeNotions.com. Brandon has been featured by several media outlets including NPR, CBS, FoxNews, SiriusXM, and EWTN. He converted to Catholicism in 2008, and since then has released several books, including The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011), Saints and Social Justice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014), and RETURN (Numinous Books, 2015). He works as the Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their five children in Central Florida. Follow him at BrandonVogt.com or connect through Twitter at @BrandonVogt.

Enjoy this article? Receive future posts free by email:

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • Great Silence

    If Jesus was God incarnated, for all the traditional reasons, why did Jesus need to exist after his ascension? Surely those goals were now achieved.

    As a "yes" or "no" proposition - is it not reasonable to propose that after Jesus' resurrection /ascension he could have been dispensed with in that form?

    • I'm assuming this question is aimed at two Catholics?

      • Great Silence

        Not at all. I believe the atheist take on this question could be very interesting.

        • Doug Shaver

          This atheist thinks the incarnation is an incoherent concept. As such, I would say it makes your question meaningless.

    • Tim

      Atheist/agnostic here.

      I believe Jesus was necessary as a symbol. He WAS a human despite any divine powers, and he showed that thr humblest of humans were capable of great deeds. He's a physical connection to a spiritual belief, in the sense of having a figurehead like the Queen of England when Parliament arguably more important.

      • Michael Karasch

        At the time that Jesus lived being part man and part divine was a easy concept for people to understand because of the many demigods they already believed in; Hercules, Dionysus, the Pharaohs etc. To an oppressed people the idea of a savior can be very easily overdrawn. Christianity grew because it appealed to an oppressed class of people and gave them hope of a better life. Jesus was like Hitler in this way. Hitler took the German people from being the laughing stock of Europe to the rulers of almost all Europe by giving the people purpose. I am in no way supporting Hitlers actions against the Jews. They were atrocious and terrible. The fact is that one man can change the world.

    • The answer is in the question. Because He is God.

      And no, it would not be reasonable. Again, because He is God.

      • Damon

        I think what Great Silence means to suggest is that since the three persons of the Trinity have always existed, that before Jesus' human birth He existed as the Second Person of the Trinity without bodily form. His question then, as I understand it, is something like "Why is it believed that Jesus continues to exist in bodily form after His ascension? Is it not reasonable to suppose that Jesus has returned to the divine form He possessed before his human birth (i.e. no longer needing His human body)?"

  • Nick Cotta

    If you were to translate your certainty in to a statistical probability on your current opinion of an afterlife existing, what would it be?

    For instance, for Catholics - are you 100% sure or 99% or 99.99%? For Atheists, are you 99% sure an afterlife doesn't exist? or maybe you're 80% sure? Or maybe it is a range - "Some days I am 100%. Last Thursday, I wandered in to 50% territory"

    • GCBill

      I could represent my confidence numerically, but not statistically, as I don't explicitly recall the full set of knowledge and experience over which I should quantify.

      And even then, I'm not sure what good it would do. Averaged over multiple tests, people frequently report average numeric confidences that are considerably higher than their frequency of correct answers. This is a "well-established bias." If someone says they're "99.99% sure" there [is, isn't] an afterlife, the most likely explanation for this belief is overconfidence.

      All that being said, I don't believe in an afterlife. So if you push me on a number, I could definitely say "0.5 < n < 1." Maybe "0.80 < n < 0.9" if I'm feeling brave.

      • Nick Cotta

        I don't think very many statistical probabilities have all of the data; it should always be assumed that a statistical probability is a measure of given knowledge, not absolute knowledge so using a confidence interval instead of a statistical fraction should not matter and in this case only serves to confuse lay people not versed in advanced math.

        I also agree that people are crappy guessers biased toward what their ego wants to believe is true.

        • GCBill

          Eh, CIs don't qualify as "advanced math" IMO - I learned about them in high school, and I was never a brilliant math student. And their point is to represent the uncertainty inherent in the given data.

          • Nick Cotta

            Well, I won't continue this tangential argument beyond this comment but suffice it to say that representing the uncertainty through a confidence interval just adds a second guess (of uncertainty) on to your initial guess (of certainty) and making two guesses instead of one does not add to the clarity of the overall picture of probability. Let's just assume that you have uncertainty in the first place and it's as quantifiable as ratio of total knowledge contained by you in relation to total reality (which I would describe as the ratio of "I know some things" divided by "no idea".)

    • Mike

      Catholic: i am 100% sure there is an afterlife; it may be hell or it may be heaven or it may be some strange existence in the random access memory module of some super computer but not all traces of my personal self will vanish when my body perishes - apparently today my body has none not one of the same atoms that it did 10 years ago and yet i am still "me".

    • Caravelle

      I'm not sure how useful those numbers are in themselves - sure, we can all pretty much agree on how "50% sure" looks different from "99% sure", but one person's "99.9% sure" might be another person's "99.999% sure". I don't think those numbers can be useful without some calibration.

      The most straightforward way of interpreting those numbers I've seen is to consider "if I were to make X statements with this level of certainty, how many times would I expect to be wrong ?". So if you're 99.99% sure of a statement you'd expect to be able to make 10,000 statements that you're this sure about and only be wrong once. If you're 99% sure you'd only be able to make 100 statements at this level of certainty before you expected to get one wrong. If you're 50% sure you'd expect to be wrong every other statement.

      What do you think ?

      • Nick Cotta

        I don't think there's a possibility to calibrate things to the precision you require to parse out differences here. Like all probabilities, they are conditional and give conditional information in a certain context. I'm okay with the inaccuracy of the system.

    • Megan Swanek

      For atheists it should be 100% that it does not exist...otherwise they are agnostic, right?

      • Nick Cotta

        Not really but I like this explanation to describe the differences between atheism and agnosticism: http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/is-there-a-difference-between-atheists-and-agnostics

        furthermore, the idea of certainty itself comes in to play in to this question as in - how certain do you think you can be about your own perception of the truth?

        • Megan Swanek

          Interesting - so, an atheist who believes in no god could still believe in an afterlife?

          • Great Silence

            Ask the Buddhists.

          • Doug Shaver

            Right, because there is no contradiction between "There is no God" and "A human life does not end with bodily death."

      • Doug Shaver

        Atheists don't believe in God. Belief or nonbelief in an afterlife is irrelevant. In a society where Christianity is the dominant religion, it's not easy to believe there is an afterlife without also believing in God, but it can be done, and some atheists do it.

    • Tim

      That's more into the range of agnosticism. For example, I currently don't believe in any of the Gods from religions on Earth, but there is no way for me to know that any, all, or a completely different deity exists, so I would say I'm about 50% that there is no "God"

  • GCBill

    For Catholics:

    Since Heaven is communion with a timeless, immaterial God, it stands to reason that it must lie outside of space-time. Human bodies, on the other hand, are spatiotemporally extended. If Heaven lies outside of spacetime, it's not clear to me there can be any place for bodies there.

    However, the Catholic Church teaches that the "resurrection of the body" will occur. This is somewhat necessary if you hold to a hylemorphic conception of soul, on which disembodiment is an unnatural state, and on which a fully-functional human mind requires embodiment.

    How do theologians propose to resolve the obvious conflict between the necessity of bodily resurrection and the form which communion with the Divine must take?

    • M J

      No great mind here, but space and time have limiting qualities .... So anything outside space and time are not restricting any spacial quality of a body ... in fact, the limitations are removed .. therefore, no death... and space-time is time eternal ... no need for time travel ... unlimited.... As for having a bodily resurrection, I don't think you can be certain yourself as you seem to state, that there is any evidence in the impossibility of having a body outside of space/time

      • GCBill

        I'm not sure if one can't have any kind of "body" absent spatiotemporal restrictions. But I don't think it can be much like the bodies that we have. It certainly couldn't just be an incorruptible analog of an earthly body, since spatiotemporal existence isn't merely a limitation, but a particular way of existing.

        • M J

          Well, interestingly, and likely without great satisfaction to you.. the Bible sort of answers this without detail .... The story of Jesus resurrecting gave reports of a body, but somehow different, but we can be sure they saw Him as they report to touching Him (not a ghost), and it is not possible that it was just a hallucination as several in the same room at the same time saw Him which prevents any real claim to a hallucination (as there is little reason to believe it is possible for multiple people to hallucinate the same thing at the same time) ... So scripture does indeed report a difference in Jesus' physical appearance, but also makes clear with these details that it wasn't a vision or hallucination.

          • GCBill

            It's interesting, but I don't know how the metaphysics behind it is supposed to work.

          • M J

            Ah, well, if you were under the impression that Catholics are omniscient ... We are not.... I would say, of course we do not know the metaphysics behind it, our minds are restrained within time & space, it is hard to understand and conceive of such ideas as everlasting body .... but if you dare read the NT, when St: Paul writes of the world is evil ... don't take it literally, think more in terms of the metaphysics... The world keeps us ignorant of our truest purpose and of life's greatest promises ... hence the need for the Divine incarnation.... we can understand "a man" ... a person as us, we can wrap our heads around this ... but to know the true Heavens 'nature' is not what it is about.. it is about knowing our human potential and purpose.... and to live to that promise.....

          • M J

            I want to stress, Mystery is not a bad word for a Christian.... it's the Mysteries that sort of makes it exciting at times..... and for another example of a Mystery .. the Trinity.. who can fathom that? 3 in 1 person? .... This could be what they talk about when they say we need to have faith as a child in their father..... If daddy says that the sun is in space and not in the blue sky, then a child should have a certain faith in their father that he speaks the truth....

    • Nick Cotta

      My guess is that the "heaven" that you think we think we're going to is a caricature - the eternal order is really about a "new heaven and a new earth" so spatial concerns don't really seem to contradict anything.

      The following is a good description of what Catholics believe:

      http://www.catholic.com/video/why-will-there-be-a-new-earth

      • GCBill

        To be honest, I still can't make sense of this. I am told that Eternity is not merely a stretch of time that "goes on forever," but something else entirely - namely, timelessness. How can this be if it pertains to a "new earth?"

        Time either passes on new-Earth, or it doesn't. If it does, eternity is just "forever" after all, at least as it pertains to what is humanly attainable. Actually, in this case God's "Eternal life" would be different from the righteous human's "eternal life," and it's not clear to me how we can be "in communion" with Being in a completely different state.

        If it doesn't, nothing ever moves or changes on new-Earth, and perhaps the first prophetic vision of Heaven comes from Parmenides. I'm thinking this is the most coherent answer, but the potential caveat is that we cannot possess anything resembling normal human phenomenology or thought in this life, both of which require real change in order to occur.

        Of course, there are people who try to have it both ways, but they end up proposing that God Himself changes in some sense, i.e. from atemporal to temporal. And of course this is impossible on the Scholastic conception of potentiality.

        In any case, I found another CA team member claiming (verbatim) that "Heaven is a place, but not a particular space." Which certainly raises "spatial concerns" about what "body" could possibly mean.

  • teo

    to the atheist: If there was no Christianity, ever, would you live by the same moral code as you do today?
    to the catholic: if there was no punishment (afterlife) would you live by the same moral code as you do today?

    • M J

      As a Catholic, of course not, The Way, The Truth, and The Life would have little meaning if the promise of the resurrection was not true.. so why forgive everyone? Why not take things day by day .. "today, I feel bad, I want others to feel bad" ... "Today is a good day, I want to do something nice, to make myself feel good today" .... But when there is a consistency of belief, these human weaknesses in character, would have less existential influence, and perseverance would be more imperative ... Perseverance is actually a word regularly repeated in the NT

    • GCBill

      Probably not. History looks different if there's no Christianity, so (assuming I even still exist), I'd have been raised in a different culture. I'm not sure if that culture would be better or worse (probably some mixture of both).

      That being said, I don't think my values are logically dependent on Christianity. Modern chemistry does not logically depend on alchemy even if the latter helped pave the way for the former.

      [I'm not saying atheism:Christianity :: chemistry:alchemy, by the way. This is just to establish that historical dependence does not entail logical dependence.]

    • Ezra Casa

      The Catholic church does not teach that anyone has ever gone to hell.

      • David Nickol

        The Catholic church does not teach that anyone has ever gone to hell.

        How do you explain the following from the Catechism?

        1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

        1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire," and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"

        1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

        1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

        Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."

        • Ezra Casa

          How do you explain the following from the Catechism?

          I do not explain it.....my comment was an exact quote from Richard W to a question about Hell that I submitted at the beginning of the thread.....mild sarcasm to his comment. intended.

        • Loreen Lee

          The poem Invictus has been interpreted as a rejection of such thought by many. It has also been found the favorite of persons considered to be both saints and sinners. It ends with the phrase: I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. This thought has actually given me much 'strength' on occasion, but I believe the intent needs to be examined both subtly and critically.

    • Mike

      Catholic: my behavior would certainly be less thoughtful but i don't think there can be a "real" internal moral compass such as the one humans have now w/o the possibility of an afterlife - what i am trying to say is that if there really was no afterlife then anything is possible and morally permissible bc there can be no morality but if i became "convinced" there is no afterlife say by the atheists on this blog, then i would still retain that moral law in the heart and would probably be less ethical and more selfish but would retain that doubt that can never go away that there is more to this existence and that would probably temper my bad inclinations alot - this is btw why atheists can be just as moral as christians or buddhists or whatever.

  • GCBill

    For SN Staff:

    Three weeks ago, I emailed you (contact@strangenotions.com) with an article proposal. I never heard back from anyone. Was the message received, and if so, might I ask for a response? The window during which I am able to write for this site is rapidly closing, and likely will not open again until the summer.

    [Feel free to delete this if it's too far off-topic. I just don't know where else to put it.]

  • Mike

    It is said that the University of Chicago is a Baptist school, run by Atheist professors who teach Jewish students St. Thomas Aquinas. This seems to imply that the fundamentals of much of what a great university teaches is classical metaphysics in disguise.

    Should something like "an intro to classical metaphysics" be a mandatory class for all high school students?

    • Ezra Casa

      I think that compulsory "comparative religions" classes, not metaphysics would be a better place to start for high school students.It would go further in the promotion of cultural and religious tolerance which is sorely lacking in our world today.

    • Ignatius Reilly

      It is from David Brooks. The professors are Jewish and the students are atheists. Regardless, I don't think what he said is actually true.

      Whose classical metaphysics should we teach? Aristotle wasn't the only Greek philosopher. An introduction to modern logic would probably be a better use of time.

      • Mike

        An intro to classic metaphysics would be fine - covering the major thinkers.

        PS amazing how so many "intellectual" "jews" are really atheists! they must be terribly embarrassed of the OT ;).

  • Gail Finke

    My question is for atheists. What leads you to believe that you know better than the vast majority of people who have ever lived? If most people, including most of the world's great geniuses, have been theists, why does that not lead you to believe that you might be thinking about this whole issue wrong -- that you might be oversimplifying, misunderstanding, or ignoring something? If you think that God is a dumb idea that is easily disproven, maybe it's your understanding of God as a concept that is dumb and easy to disprove, and is not what other people are talking about in the first place.

  • Char Lerch

    As Catholics, we relieve the Word of God is constantly guiding us through the Holy Spirit, scriptures, sacramentals, and prayer. The ever present difficulty of "hearing" God's voice, above the noise, and discerning His will, is a conscience effort that requires a daily dialogue. It is a moral standard of which we abide by. In contrary, atheists hold a wide range of beliefs, and use their own moral standard, independent of God and church. Logic is their guidance system.
    As a yes or no question - Is there a definable point in which we can say that nurture was the catalyst that shaped an individual into choosing one or the other?

    • M J

      Have you never met Catholics with kids of almost all persuasion?

  • M J

    To atheists: On what basis can one claim true equality and Human rights without a source above the worldly sovereign? Why are rights inalienable if creation has no source?

    • GCBill

      Speaking only for myself: I'm not sure if rights should be thought of as "human" or "inalienable." This is because I don't think they can be plausibly grounded in species membership.

    • By consent. In terms of law, words like universality and inalienability sound good but have no practical use. The question is, what rights will the government enforce? In a democratic society, we try to develop processes that enact and enforce norms that the population agree and consent should be enforced. You can claim all the universal and inalienability of whatever right you want, but your population can still amend your constitution to nullify them.

      The alternative is a non representative autocrat or oligarchy imposes its views of norms to be enforced.

      Might it flip your question to you? Why would a divine source of rights make them universal or binding? Because of the power of the deity to create and transcend the world?

      • M J

        Because it is real and true, this real and true God has told us that we ALL are created with the same love and same purpose. We are not just animals looking out for our needs ... we seek truth, and in the seeking of truth we find Him, and when we find Him we learn that our immediate needs are not the only interest and satisfaction we possess or pursue.
        Basically, ONE God allows us to see the people in the world as equal. Unalienable rights only come to us when we see ourselves as equal.
        Are we equal under the law without a claim to unalienable right? Of course not, he who takes the power, makes the regime (makes the rules).
        Our system (US Constitution) is one that is unalienable because we claim the government can not abuse its power for its selfish benefit.
        In other words, if I am arrested, the government can not suddenly change the laws to ensure that I can not find a chance to be free and released.
        No! The government is limited and it respects the greatest value of the law, all men are created equal.
        !) Created - we are all equal from our nature, not because we have equal accomplishments, equal abilities, equal, heights, equal roles and duties .... created for the same purpose and the reason.
        Atheism can not give us these basic claims of human rights.

        And we are only equal with One God, one creator. if we had multiple gods, then we would not be equal, our creation and experience would be at the discretion of the powerplay of the gods......
        Which god is the greater one? Which god would protect us? which god can give us prosperity?
        How often would this change or be rearranged within the regimes of the gods....

        So we would only be at the mercy of the right god at the right time... and we would not be able to claim that we are equal.... only if all gods had the same exact expectation and relationship to us... and this is hard to fathom if it would be this way.

        Are we equal based on our reason? Are we equal because we have the same height, abilities, worries, bodies?, hair? genes? eyes? ....

        Why are we equal, do we have the same amount of money or power?

        No! The ones with the power and money are objectively more powerful and richer than I.

        So why is it important? Because the rules could in theory change in a dime if I am only at the mercy of those in power to designate which law is required when and how...

        Unalienable is a claim that certain 'rights' can not be removed

  • Mike

    To Catholics: If God is Love but Love can sometimes, even often, feel like pain or seem hurtful are you sure you want God's Love here on earth and to be in the direct presence of God's Love in Heaven where the Love might "hurt" even more?

    • WOW!!!

    • I'd say love only hurts if it lacks something it ought to have. If Gods love lacks nothing, and the receiver is not lacking in the ability to receive, then the love should not "hurt".

    • jakael02

      Good thinking question. I love my wife, sometimes when she is going through a rough time; I sit with her, listen to her, comfort her, and share her pain. This hurts me to see her hurt, but I accept it because I love her. The alternative, to not love at all.

    • You've been listening to John Cougar Melloncamp, "sometimes love don't feel like it should, hurts so good"

  • Mike

    To atheists: If there is no afterlife, did Hitler himself thwart definitively any possibility of being punished or having to account for his crimes?

  • Because many people of profound goodwill down through the ages have, best we can tell through authentic interreligious and interideological dialogue and hagiographic sources, realized life's highest goods, like truth, beauty, goodness and love, in abundance, this despite their otherwise diverse stances toward putative primal and ultimate realities, might what's at stake in our collective ongoing quests be the realization of superabundance and not, as too many imagine with either-or thinking and in all or nothing fashion, either absolute frustrations or exclusive enjoyments of our mutually shared values and aspirations? What's your case for or against this poly-doxic perspective?

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I think I'd vote for your question if you could greatly simplify it!

      • Yeah, Kevin, I was staring at it and trying to figure out a way to rephrase it. Any of you who can grasp what I am TRYING to say, I graciously ask for some help. I was trying to keep it narrow by qualifying it in a couple of ways.

        Basically, I'm asking "What's at stake, for all practical purposes, in determining which worldview best frames up ultimate reality?"

        At the same time, I want the responder to affirm or deny my specific stance.

        Thanks for the feedback.

        • Loreen Lee

          With regard to what I perceive as a quest for happiness within your proposal, a suitable definition can be found in such ideas as Aristotle's virtue is its own reward, to happiness is the attainment of nirvana/heaven. So, yes, if you consider happiness can be found, as does Aristotle, within this bodily existence, I would maintain that it remains a state of mind, and not dependent on external values, aspirations, etc. This in itself I believe would constitute the basis of an interesting dialogue.
          So in short what you call a poly-doxic perspective, just describes the 'reality' of the divergent principles and practices that 'actually' do exist between philosophies, religions, naturalistic perspective, and simple 'attitudes' towards life including whether or not there is 'purpose'.
          So in some cases, it is possible that an 'ultimate reality' is not within the doxology of certain populations. But if it is a question of what constitutes happiness, I believe this would be an interesting question to pose for both atheists and theists. Thanks for posting.

          • Good and interesting points, Loreen.

            I wouldn't refer to such happiness solely in terms of an affective disposition or feelings. I'm thinking more in terms of a matter of the will, as in the distinction that love is not a feeling but a commitment. There's a deep satisfaction, to be sure, from surrendering to and sacrificing for higher values, but this often comes at great cost, even emotionally. I suppose the philosophers might sufficiently nuance happiness? I'm not totally familiar with those classic terms and distinctions. I do believe that we are all immersed in an earthly milieu where we experience, juxtaposed, much of what's joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious at the very same time!

          • Loreen Lee

            Just hope that I was 'on track' enough, to meet your request for assistance; i.e. feedback that will clarify your question. It is a very good question, as I have already noted. Indeed my answer might be a result of some of the issues it resonated with regarding my own perspective.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          How about, "Is X the best way to live?"

          But you have to articulate X.

          • Let's see, X = living as if truth, beauty, goodness and love are not only existential orientations gifted by evolutionary processes, which they arguably may be, but are also transcendental imperatives gifted by a loving origin, which is demonstrably possible and coherent, eminently plausible to most of humankind down thru the ages

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Is seeking goodness, truth, and beauty the best way to live?

          • Loreen Lee

            Goodness: Morality Practical Reason The Will of the Father
            Truth: The Law, the Word, Reason, The Truth of the Son
            Beauty: Order, Purpose The Sublime. -the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  • Loreen Lee

    For Catholics. This site puts forward 20 proofs of God's existence. I have over time shown some opposition for what I consider the 'static' conception of some of these proofs, as originated in Aristotelean philosophy. I have also expressed delight in a post which, instead of relating a proof based on the 4-5 causes within the philosophy of Aristotle related to a cosmological rational, a proof was put forward that was based on an inductive inference from a particular, in this case the existence of an animal.
    I expanded on this thesis, as extending this individuality to the proofs of Gods existence, beginning with Descartes, which to my mind were also based on individual/personal experience, (of one's mind in his case), and which I proposed were intuitive as well as merely logical.
    So on this basis, I conclude that an acceptance of such a proof would constitute some 'belief' in the 'reality' of mind/ideas, call it what you will. This would hold in these proofs presented so far to proof from intelligibility, (The Son) as distinct from The Will, (or the father). After all, even Jesus himself, said I AM the truth, not merely that I tell you the truth.

    I have long been acquainted with belief in the reality of ideas from Christianity to Buddism, to mathematicians who put forward a belief in the 'reality' of numbers. All of these 'ideas' remain controversial however.
    But recently I read a reference to the philosophy of Aquinas, which put forth the 'idea' that that related the Will of God to Being. This idea astonished me, and thought that, at least for me, it could be a remarkable 'proof'. But I cannot find more information on this.
    Is there a Catholic Scholar who is aware of this proposal, and could 'enlighten' not only me but all atheists, to the possibility that within the human framework, we could considered that our being is 'defined' by our will"
    Hope you all press thumbs up, because I am cognitively biased toward the hope that I shall receive some information regarding such a 'definition' of 'Being'. Thanks.

    • Loreen, I defer to the Thomists re: your specific question.

      Since you expressed some interest, elsewhere, about modal realism and semiotics, you might fruitfully employ Scotism as a foil to deepen your understanding of Thomism, especially by focusing on Scotus' 1) univocity of being 2) primacy of the will and 3) influence on Charles Sanders Peirce. It might sound intimidating or a bit much but I am not suggesting you engage those in depth, only that you get vaguely familiar with same. I suspect you'll get some aha moments from such an exercise.

      • Loreen Lee

        Wrote them down, so they are on my Google list. But yes, the whole thing does sound 'intimidating'. I'm just attempting to 'piece together what I have read within the context of my life, as I believe I have told you. No more reading heavy books. Just the internet.

        • Wikipedia or Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy would suffice :)

          • Loreen Lee

            It's good they are often accessible just by topic. I tried to renew my subscription, and for some reason couldn't connect.

  • To Catholics: If there was no afterlife, what would you do differently?

    To Atheists: If there was an afterlife, what would you do differently?

    • Nick Cotta

      More upvotes for this question.

      • Loreen Lee

        I second that motion.

    • To Catholics: If there was no afterlife, what would you do differently?

      Follow Scriptures advice:

      32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

    • mgcruss

      Which version of the afterlife? My answer would depend on whether it was Norse, Zoroastrian, etc.

      • Johnboy Sylvest • 6 hours ago

        To Catholics: If there was no afterlife, what would you do differently?

        1 Corinthians 15:32 If at Ephesus I fought with beasts, so to speak, what benefit was it to me? If the dead are not raised: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

      • To keep this interesting to as many as we can, let's set a threshold of at least a half billion believers . Use whatever version you'd like, then: 1) Abrahamic - 4 billion 2) Hindu - 1 billion or 3) Buddhist - half billion. Or include all the 5 great traditions collectively but vaguely considering a self (static or dynamic) that perdures eternally and with some notion of justice or karma, including the possibility of a "universal salvation," if you prefer.

      • Mike

        This is a catholic site.

    • Doug Shaver

      If I were convinced that I would suffer eternally unless I did X, I would be doing X to the very best of my ability.

      • Mike

        May as well as you having nothing to lose if it all turns out to have been a big mistake, no?

        • Doug Shaver

          If it turns out to have been a mistake, I would have wasted the only life I've been given pursuing an illusion.

          • Doug Shaver

            Besides . . . suppose I do the X prescribed by the Catholic Church, and it turns out that certain Protestants are right about what happens to Catholics when they die?

          • Mike

            Well then at least you gave yourself a real chance of getting it right which is still better than not trying at all...maybe in this case God would take pity on you and would be merciful?

          • Doug Shaver

            maybe in this case God would take pity on you and would be merciful?

            Or maybe God had a plan to save the entire world from sin, and the plan worked?

          • Mike

            Maybe i hope so.

          • Doug Shaver

            You hope he had such a plan, or you hope it worked?

          • Mike

            Maybe the plan does (will) work; i hope it does.

            Seriously very much appreciate the exchange.

          • Doug Shaver

            You're quite welcome.

          • Mike

            Yes but you won't exist to know that. Plus the pros of pursuing the illusion may outweigh the pros of not pursuing it.

          • Doug Shaver

            I've tried both. I know the pros and cons that I've experienced in this life.

          • Great Silence

            I have eventually made peace with that dilemma by realizing that, at least in my case, I value the Catholic life so much that if you prove to me a day before I die that I had it all wrong, I would still smile and tell you that it was worth it.

          • Doug Shaver

            I'm aware of the satisfactions that religion provides for some people. So long as a believer's satisfaction is not contingent on the use of coercive measures to oppose dissenting viewpoints, I have no interest in depriving anyone of their religious satisfaction. Even if I wanted to, I see no reason to think I could change the mind of anyone who is as satisfied as you say you are.

          • Great Silence

            Atheism / agnosticism also brings a lot of satisfaction, as you put it. I know, I've been there. To be the captain of your own ship, to be solely responsible for your life and what you do with it, even the idea that death ends it all is a set of comforts easily overlooked. It is often said, or implied, that the believer does so simply in order to achieve satisfaction or comfort that follows on such belief. That is a gross oversimplification, and is at least equally true for the non-believer. In fact, my life is far less "satisfied" and comfortable as a Catholic than when I was an atheist.

            I fully agree with the rest of your sentiments though.

            Andre

    • Ignatius Reilly

      When I stopped believing in an afterlife, I probably became a better person. I certainly had a greater respect for the life of my fellow human beings, because this is the only life that we have.

    • I'm an atheist, if there is an afterlife, I don't think I would do anything differently. I would be less sad when people died.

  • Richard Weissflog

    In regards to our ability to survive and thrive on this planet, the answer to the question about God's existence really doesn't matter. What does matter is that human beings believe in Universal Truths, which we can know through observing the world around us and applying our gifts of reason to distinguish between what is true, what is false and what is good and what is evil.
    A world built upon the principles of secular humanism is doomed to ever increasing chaos, conflict and repression as there will never be an agreement on the equality of differing points of view. The fruits of relativism in western civilization are already apparent to those with eyes to see; but, like a powerful narcotic, almost impossible to break free of even knowing that, in the end, it will destroy us.
    I believe all people harbor the same, mostly subconscious, desire to achieve a
    state of being where they feel total peace, contentment and harmony with themselves, others and nature. From the dawn of our existence, however, human nature and unavoidable biological facts of life have prevented its attainment.

    Over the millennia we have attempted to find solutions to this dilemma through
    philosophy, religion and science, the greatest of which achieving the status of
    a “World View” and, in one way or another, are incorporated into differing political
    systems.

    There are three competing World Views vying for dominance in our world
    today:

    Islamic – faith alone (when reason contradicts the teaching of
    Muhammad, reason is wrong)

    Secular Humanist – reason alone (there is no creator God, the fact
    that we exist is the result of time, chance and Darwinian evolutionary
    principles alone.)

    Judeo Christian (Catholic) – faith and reason together (there is a
    proper domain for both, they do not contradict each other)

    There is one thing many Protestant Fundamentalists, Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Secular Humanists would agree on - the world is undergoing
    an unprecedented cultural upheaval! Some Fundamentalists believe they are living
    on the cusp of the Second Coming. Catholics are witnessing the disintegration
    of the Christian culture they have shaped and influenced for almost 2,000 years. Israel struggles to survive in a region where it faces hatred and vicious attacks
    it can not sustain indefinitely. Muslims believe the dreams of Mohammed and the will of Allah will soon come to fruition. And Secular Humanists believe we are at
    the dawn of a bright new age where mankind will finally be liberated from the shackles of religious bigotry, intolerance, myths and superstitions.

    The world stage has been set to play out a tragedy beyond comprehension. Anyone who can not see that must have their heads buried deep in the sand, and anyone who believes the principles of Secular Humanism hold the key to our escape is truly delusional!

    The second law of thermodynamics states:

    Energy, unless constrained, will always increase in disorder (chaos),
    entropy always increases.

    Human behavior is translated into human energy. The principles of Secular Humanism provide civilization with the road map to its chaotic
    destination, while the principles of Christianity show us the way to constrain it.
    Rick Weissflog
    St. Charles MO

    • Loreen Lee

      I read your comment as holding that it is the Islamists and the Secular Humanists that are most optimistic about the future. There is for me an incredible irony tied up in this juxtaposition. I'm just attempting to stay as calm about world events, as I can. Is Pope Francis attempting to constrain the chaos by at least seemingly devoting more time to political events, etc. than to spiritual guidance?

      • Richard Weissflog

        I hadn't thought of it that way but you could be right.....and I would also add the belief of fundamentalist protestants that Jesus is about to return. However, in my opinion, the optimism of all three is misplaced and will lead to great disappointment (or much worse).
        Someday Christ will return but we do not know the day or the hour.
        Until then, we must strive to live our lives as a reflection of Him and in the way He taught us. What others see in us is what can lead to either their rejection of, or conversion to the faith. The Christians of the first three centuries went through far worse things than we (at least in the west) yet pagan Rome saw their joy and it eventually concord them!
        Regarding Pope Francis, I've given up trying to figure him out. I love the example of Christian love and forgiveness he reflects; but am confused by some of the things he has said or hasn't said.
        When he gets misquoted or misinterpreted I wish he would clear it up himself rather than leaving it up to the apologists I listen to on EWTN!

        • Loreen Lee

          Just subscribed to EWTN. Usually just follow New Advent. Thanks.

  • Ezra Casa

    Are Catholics who live together in "sin" who know what the church teaching is regards sexual sin, bound for hell if they die in that state without going to confession to a priest or making a "perfect act of contrition"? And I assume the answer will be the same for those married or unmarried Catholics who practice birth control or who masturbate, or commit any other "mortal" sin, that is not confessed to a priest? I think it would be good to have someone give the "official" church stance and someone to give another view from another more liberal Catholic theological perspective.

    • Richard Weissflog

      While the Catholic Church does officially proclaim some as Saints who are in Heaven, it makes no official proclamation about anyone condemned to Hell.
      Only that certain actions, like those you mentioned, have placed their souls in mortal danger.
      Final judgment is God's alone.

      • Ezra Casa

        Ok...thanks for the reply. I did not really ask if the church declared anyone to be in hell.....just wondered; what the church teaching was regarding hell and "mortal" sin. and do people actually go there?...where ever "there" is?...a place...or state of being....whatever.....for eternity? I really wish the church would not beat around the bush and quit going in circles on these matters.

        • If you really want to simplify it, ultimately Hell is the rejection of God and His love. God does not send anyone to Hell, rather we choose it for ourselves by rejecting God, His love, and His mercy. He will not force His love on anyone, but allows us to freely choose to either accept it or reject it.

          So, if someone commits a grave, mortal sin (such as cohabitation, sex outside of marriage, masturbation, etc.) with the full knowledge of it, then they do put themselves in grave danger of Hell, unless they fully repent and ask for God's mercy.

          • David Nickol

            My question is for Catholics. How can you be satisfied with such trite answers about eternal damnation as . . .

            God does not send anyone to Hell, rather we choose it for ourselves by rejecting God, His love, and His mercy. He will not force His love on anyone, but allows us to freely choose to either accept it or reject it.

            If God does not want to coerce anyone, why does he give only the following two choices: love him "freely," or suffer punishment for all eternity?

          • What other choices should we have?

          • Great Silence

            Annihilation. A second chance. Acceptance into heaven though you are not Catholic.

          • Doug Shaver

            Never mind our choices. Does God, when confronted with our imperfections, have no choice but to deal with us as the church says he deals with us?

          • That reminds me of a story. When a majority of the Papal Birth Control Commission recommended a change in the teaching, one prelate asked: "What about all those we previously consigned to hell?"

            Rough paraphrase but good grief!

          • Right, the notion that God wouldn't coerce anyone into relationship doesn't necessarily require that they'd otherwise have to be tortured.

          • Ezra Casa

            What person in his right mind will choose an eternity of suffering.Is god such a tyrant that he demands that we love him? Don't worry.....I see where you religious legalists are coming from. Are you actually saying that someone who practices artificial birth control or masturbates deserves an eternity of suffering in hell....puhleezz..pray some more rosaries.
            I have to ask....what kind of Monster god are you promoting?

          • Doug Shaver

            ultimately Hell is the rejection of God and His love.

            I reject neither. I am just not believing with you say about them.

          • ChrisDeStefano

            We know.

      • Ezra Casa

        I refer you to a comment by David Nickol on this thread.

        1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely
        choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against
        him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love
        remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you
        know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns
        us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious
        needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in
        mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means
        remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state
        of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is
        called "hell."

        1034 Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna"
        of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their
        lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can
        be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and
        they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace
        of fire," and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me,
        you cursed, into the eternal fire!"

        1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately
        after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend
        into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."
        The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom
        alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created
        and for which he longs.

        1036 The affirmations of Sacred
        Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a
        call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom
        in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent
        call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide
        and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by
        it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to
        life, and those who find it are few."

        Since we know neither
        the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch
        constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is
        completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be
        numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful
        servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer
        darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."

  • Mike O’Leary

    When the issue regarding the contraception mandate was at its peak a few years ago I never read or heard a straight answer from either side as to the ultimate limits between government and religion. I'd ask both Catholics and atheists What do you believe should be the bright line that divides those employment laws that can be trumped by freedom of religion and those employment laws that must be followed no matter the religion of the people involved? I think most of us agree that neither the government's power nor religion's power is absolute in these cases, but where do we define the floor and ceiling of those powers?

    • Ezra Casa

      Perhaps the government should just keep out of the bedrooms of the nation.

      • Mike

        Well that kinda depends on what goes on in those beds and with whom right.

    • Richard Weissflog

      At our country's founding it was presumed all laws would be derived from nature and nature's God. Now-a-days.....not so much.
      If the ruling class of academics, judges and politicians would simply return to that founding principle, your question would be mute!

      • But you have to do more than that, you have to be able to articulate what you mean by nature and nature's god. You also have to think about the problem of how do you know God's nature, how do you know of you are right? The Bible? The Qu'ran? Even if you can agree on a text, how do you interpret passages that call for the stoning to death of disobedient children and not suffering a witch to live? How do you reconcile the murder of idol worshippers in Exodus with freedom of religion? And so on,

        • Richard Weissflog

          I Purposely said nothing about Devine Revelation because of the quagmire of unanswerable questions it would lead to (which you mentioned).

          To get a better idea of what I'm talking about - read this brief article (I think you'll have to copy/paste in your browser):

          http://www.founding.com/the_declaration_of_i/pageID.2415/default.asp
          Nature and nature's God was not a matter of debate or confusion amongst our founding fathers. It only became problematic in modern times.

      • Doug Shaver

        If the ruling class of academics, judges and politicians would simply return to that founding principle, your question would be mute!

        Because our founders never disagreed among themselves about what was permitted or forbidden by nature and nature's God?

        • Richard Weissflog

          Of course they did. Slavery being the most obvious issue. At the time, unity was more important to them then truth so they compromised by writing the 3/5ths clause into the Constitution and gradually ended the slave trade in the early 19th century.

          This failure would lead to the bloodiest war in our history followed by a century of "Jim Crow". All because some rationalized the phrase "All men are created equal" didn't really mean "all men". An obvious fallacy and example of the length some will go to legitimize the necessity of one race being superior to another. A concept, by the way, later supported by early Darwinian evolutionary theory which directly led to the eugenics movement in America and Hitler's "Master Race" policies. All brought about by the failure to enforce what is obviously true and observable in nature and expressed by Jefferson (a slave owner) "All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights......"

          • Doug Shaver

            At the time, unity was more important to them then truth

            You're saying that some of the founders considered it necessary to compromise. But the people they were compromising with were other founders. Those other founders apparently did not regard slavery as contrary to the laws of nature and nature's God.

            This failure would lead to the bloodiest war in our history followed by a century of "Jim Crow".

            If the Confederacy had won that war, our hindsight appraisal of the founders might have been rather different from what it is now.

          • Richard Weissflog

            -Those other founders apparently did not regard slavery as contrary to the laws of nature and nature's God.-

            Your right; but they were rationalizing and blinded by their prejudice. I believe Jefferson may have been conflicted by his own hypocrisy and is why he arranged to free his slaves after his death.

            -If the Confederacy had won that war, our hindsight appraisal of the founders might have been rather different from what it is now.-
            Again, your right....just as our appraisal of Hitler would be different today if Germany had won WW11.
            History is objective; but, what is written about history is subjective. That's what makes discerning truth from spin difficult and why you and I can look at the same thing but reach different conclusions. Only a professional historian has a chance of figuring it out (assuming they don't have a built in bias),and the further they are from the actual events the more apt they are to get it wrong.

          • Doug Shaver

            History is objective

            That depends. The word can refer to what actually happened, or it can refer to a historian's account of what happened. The latter is never entirely objective.

            Only a professional historian has a chance of figuring it out (assuming they don't have a built in bias)

            Historians without any biases don't exist.

          • Richard Weissflog

            Well then, I guess the only way to know for sure is to build a time machine and go back and observe it for ourselves.
            Lacking a Delorean with a flux capacitor, we can not know the truth with certainty. Much of what we think we know - in reality we only believe. How do you know the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around? You don't, and have to rely on what science says it has proven. In other words, you need to have faith!
            I'm a Catholic and you're an atheist (albeit a strange one who believes in a life after death). Can either of us prove what we believe is reality? No we can't; but the more certain we are in our belief, the more impact it will have on the way we live our lives.
            Anyway, sorry I went off on a tangent.
            Getting back on point, some historians have earned trust through their reputations while others are dubious. It's all a matter of doing your do diligence and then having the faith that you have chosen wisely!

          • Doug Shaver

            Well then, I guess the only way to know for sure is to build a time machine and go back and observe it for ourselves.

            Yes, but I'm not looking to know for sure. I'm just looking for what I can regard as more likely than not to have happened, considering all the evidence currently available to us.

            How do you know the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around?

            That's not history. That's science. Although, I don't claim to be absolutely certain about that, either. I just think that, considering all the evidence, it would be intellectually perverse to doubt it at this point in our intellectual history. We still could be mistaken, but until someone gives me a reason to actually suspect that we actually are mistaken, I'm going on the assumption that we're not.

            In other words, you need to have faith!

            I don't think so, but you tell me: Is it consistent with faith to say, "I could be wrong"?

            you're an atheist (albeit a strange one who believes in a life after death).

            I don't believe in life after death. I am quite convinced that this life, in this world, is the only one I will ever have.

            some historians have earned trust through their reputations

            And how do they get those reputations?

            while others are dubious. It's all a matter of doing your due diligence and then having the faith that you have chosen wisely.

            That depends on what you mean by "faith." The term I would use is "justified confidence." My exercise of due diligence was my taking the trouble to find out how historians do what they do, and in particular learning how certain of their ways of doing those things changed over the course of the 20th century.

          • Richard Weissflog

            I wish I knew how to copy/past like you do. Perhaps you can tell me.

            -That's not history. That's science-

            I know - and I said " Much of what we think we know about history or, for that matter, anything else..."

            -I don't think so, but you tell me: Is it consistent with faith to say, "I could be wrong"?-

            That depends on what it is. For instance, I have faith that I will wake up tomorrow morning - but I could be wrong.

            When it comes to God - science tells us our universe began some 14 billion years ago. I think you and I would agree something caused that to happen and cause/effect can only be pushed back so far until you reach the conclusion there has to be an eternal first mover that always existed and was not caused by anything. I believe that eternal first mover possesses an intelligence beyond our comprehension. I presume you believe it is simply some kind of random force with no rhyme or reason behind it. I try to look at the evidence from both sides and, I assume, you do the same. Thus far, we have reached different conclusions and that is why we find ourselves coming together on this web site.

            -I don't believe in life after death. I am quite convinced that this life, in this world, is the only one I will ever have.-

            My mistake - I glanced through some of your other posts and thought I read otherwise.

            -And how do they get those reputations?-

            The same way anyone else in different occupations get it. There are plumbers who do good work and are honest, and there are plumbers who do shoddy work and over-charge. Finding the good ones takes more than looking them up in the phone book.

            -That depends on what you mean by "faith." The term I would use is "justified confidence."-
            I don't disagree, one should only have faith in things they have tested through logic and reason. Blind faith can lead you into a wall. Faith in what is true but cannot be proven with certainty can lead to a more fulfilling life.

          • Michael Murray

            I wish I knew how to copy/past like you do. Perhaps you can tell me.

            Do you mean the quotes ? Do

            (blockquote) some text (/blockquote)

            but replace the ( ) round brackets by pointy brackets

            When it comes to God - science tells us our universe began some 14 billion years ago. I think you and I would agree something caused that to happen and cause/effect can only be pushed back so far until you reach the conclusion there has to be an eternal first mover that always existed and was not caused by anything.

            I can't speak for Doug but I think you will find most atheists are a very long way from agreeing that the universe needs an intelligent cause let alone any of the metaphysical arguments about first movers etc. It is also worth noting that what science suggests isn't that the universe began 14 billion years ago but that it was very, very condensed 14 billion years ago. We don't have a theory of quantum gravity to apply to such a dense universe so we can't model what happened before then. We do know that space and time break down though so "cause" or "began" are probably no longer sensible notions. Have a look at Planck Epoch on wikipedia if you would like more information. Paul Brandon Rimmer's posts on this site often discuss these issues as well.

          • Doug Shaver

            and I said " Much of what we think we know about history or, for that matter, anything else..."

            I'm sorry. It was careless of me to have missed that.

            Is it consistent with faith to say, "I could be wrong"?-

            That depends on what it is. For instance, I have faith that I will wake up tomorrow morning - but I could be wrong.

            In that instance, what does "I have faith" mean that "I believe" doesn't mean? What distinguishes faith from any other kind of belief? What makes it special?

            science tells us our universe began some 14 billion years ago. I think you and I would agree something caused that to happen

            No, we would not agree. A cause has to be chronologically prior to its effect, but time is a property of the universe. It follows that there could have been no time when the universe did not exist, notwithstanding the universe's finite age, and hence it is incoherent to talk about a cause of the universe.

            I glanced through some of your other posts and thought I read otherwise.

            I was explaining why, if an atheist believes in an afterlife, they are not being inconsistent, at least not just on that account. The reason it's so unusual to find an atheist believing in an afterlife is that practically all (but not entirely all) arguments for an afterlife are theistic arguments.

            -And how do they [historians] get those reputations?-

            The same way anyone else in different occupations get it. There are plumbers who do good work and are honest, and there are plumbers who do shoddy work and over-charge

            If a plumber has a good reputation, I know what to expect if I call him to fix my leaky toilet. I expect my toilet to be no longer leaking when he's done working on it. If I read a book written by a historian with a good reputation, what should I expect to find in that book?

            I don't disagree, one should only have faith in things they have tested through logic and reason.

            This gets us back to what difference there might be between faith in particular and belief in general.

            Faith in what is true but cannot be proven with certainty can lead to a more fulfilling life.

            I believe plenty of things that I cannot prove with certainty. I don't have any problem with that.

          • Richard Weissflog

            You should expect an accurate description of the event, the things leading up to it and the things directly impacted by it.
            You should also expect a glossary containing references to source material from or as close to the time frame as possible.
            You should also be given access to differing opinions and an explanation of where they came from and why the author may conclude they add or detract from the truth about the event.

          • Doug Shaver

            Of course, if he has a good reputation, I expect him to be accurate. But I asked how he got that reputation, and you haven't answered that question yet.

            You should also expect a glossary containing references to source material from or as close to the time frame as possible.

            That seems like a pretty minimal criterion. The few scholars who question Jesus' historicity quote primary sources all through their books, but that doesn't seem to help their reputation among most historians.

            You should also be given access to differing opinions and an explanation of where they came from and why the author may conclude they add or detract from the truth about the event.

            What do you mean by "the truth" in this context? Should I assume that, because the author has a good reputation, the truth is what he says it is?

          • Richard Weissflog

            He earned it overtime based on his methodology and appraisal by others of his work. The same way a plumber does.
            How would you answer that question?

          • Doug Shaver

            He earned it overtime based on his methodology and appraisal by others of his work. The same way a plumber does. . . . The study of history is a science just like physics.

            You're seeing a lot of similarities in places where I don't find any. I think distinctions are usually more enlightening than superficial commonalities.

            How would you answer that question?

            I'm not sure how it works in the real world of academia, but ideally a historian would earn a good reputation by a thorough accounting of all relevant evidence with well-reasoned arguments connecting that evidence to his conclusions, and demonstrating the superiority of that reasoning to any contrary conclusions that may have been proposed.

            And regardless of his reputation, if he is addressing a controversial topic, that is what I'm going to look for in deciding whether I should believe him. Whatever his stature among his peers, if I perceive that he is ignoring relevant data or using flawed arguments, I will remain doubtful.

            Only a few decades ago the scientific consensus concluded the universe was an eternal "steady state". And a few decades before that "The human races all evolved separately and are not equal in development".

            Kuhn called that sort of transition a paradigm shift. I think we're going through one now in the study of Christian origins.

          • Richard Weissflog

            There is no real difference other than, perhaps, the situation it is applied too.
            For instance, I wouldn't say "Based on the evidence I'm aware of, I have faith that O. J. murdered his wife". I would say "...I believe...". In reality, either word would imply the same conclusion which was reached through logic and reason given the public evidence available.

          • Richard Weissflog

            I see I still haven't figured out how to cut/past; but seem to be making progress! lol

          • Doug Shaver

            In reality, either word would imply the same conclusion which was reached through logic and reason given the public evidence available.

            In reality, neither word always implies that. Meanings are established by usage. People use the word "believe" to refer to a particular state of mind without necessarily saying anything about how or why someone got into that state. If I say I believe something, all I am saying is that I regard it as true. It makes no difference whether I so regard it for good reasons, bad reasons, or for no reason at all.

            What you seem to be referring to is knowledge. If I say I know something, then I'm saying not only that I believe it, but also that I believe it for a good logical reason.

          • Doug Shaver

            I wish I knew how to copy/past like you do. Perhaps you can tell me.

            I use HTML tags. The forum software recognizes them automatically.

    • These issues are just too complex and context driven for there to be a bright line. But the balance set in my country I think is reasonable. It basically says that you have the freedom to do whatever you want as a religious practice, as long as you genuinely think it is part of your religion (and we won't scrutinize what religion is or your sincerity too much, we'll generally take your word). But, you will be prevented as soon as you significantly interfere with the rights of others.

      If I understand the contraception issue, this was where there was a law that basically said these group of employees will be provided with this level of health care and this includes contraception. A number of catholic employers did not want to be associated with providing this contraception and asked if they could deprive people of a right they would otherwise enjoy. I do not accept that it is a genuine religious practice to be an employer, or to be not associated with contraception provided to employees. It is a religious practice to not use contraception. If it is I do not think this religious practice should be allowed to deprive these people of the right to contraception.

      • Richard Weissflog

        Your understanding is incorrect. The issue is not to deny someone from exercising their right to contraception; rather, the government forcing those who disagree on religious grounds to provide it to them in spite of their belief.
        A powerful case in support of this argument can be made by observing the way our bodies are designed to work by Nature (see my comments about nature and nature's God below).
        In short, how can contraception be called "health care" when it's intent is to prevent the body from achieving it's designed objective? While there are a few, very rare, legitimate health issue, the vast majority of usage is to allow the enjoyment and pleasure of the physical act without having to worry about the possible consequences.
        Today, superior natural techniques are available that have the added bonus of enhancing male/female relationships by requiring communication and cooperation; but, they also require discipline and short periods of abstinence. Virtues looked upon with disdain in today's "I want it and I want it NOW" culture.

    • The government rarely interferes with essentially creedal, devotional or liturgical norms (generally derived from special divine revelations) vis a vis free exercise but often does regarding moral and practical norms (transparent to human reason w/o special revelation).

      See:
      http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/are-you-more-disgusted-by-the-cu.html

  • Ezra Casa

    Brandon Vogt. This was supposed to be a venue for us to submit questions...and for people to vote on the questions they were interested in....pursuant to later articles to be published, but the venue seems to be devolving into a discussion free-for-all rather the the intended original stated purpose.

    • Brandon,
      You should let these comments stand. But I think you have to start over, by not allowing discussions and restricting submissions to the naming of suggested topics.

      • Michael Murray

        Yes presumably you can stop replies so that all that can be done is post comments ?

        • Caravelle

          I'm not sure what the problem is; the top-level comments are the questions, and we can clearly tell them apart from the replies that discuss said question (or answer them, which I agree isn't in the spirit of things but I don't see it as harmful either). What's wrong with both coexisting ? Is it a Disqus thread bloat thing ? (if so, sorry for contributing)

          • Michael Murray

            I guess it's not really a problem. Seemed like it was going to get really messy to me but maybe that's not a big deal.

  • Tim

    To both Atheists and people of any religion.

    Did you choose your beliefs (or lackthereof if you don't consider atheism a belief system) based on your own thoughts and ideas, or did yoy merely take on the beliefs of your own parents/guardians?

    I believe a weakness of belief systems is that parents often indoctrinate their own children to only accept what they've been teaching them. This allows groups like the Westboro Baptists to continue their followinga as well as allowing a population of atheists that won't evrn consider the other end of the argument.

    • I don't chose my beliefs. I believe something if I am convinced of it. For example, I think I would be happier and prosper more if I believed in the Christian god, but I can't chose to believe he exists anymore than I could chose to believe that I will inherit 100 million dollars.

      I agree that most beliefs arise because of non rational reasons. I believe that we have our beliefs first, then rationalize them after. I make every effort to avoid this by learning about critical thinking, questioning my beliefs and trying to value changing my mind based on good evidence rather than maintaining a belief.

      • Tim

        Idk about that...As children we are ignorant clean slates. As you age you learn and you arw either introduced to religion or lack of religion.

        I believe religion is rationalized to us and then we accept it. I am not speaking in terms of faith in your god etc, but how you wrre introduced to your faith

      • Mike

        That's an interesting admission that you would be perhaps happier but you can't bring yourself there...that's honestly a crappy "place" to be head-space wise from my perspective...ever try LARPING catholic? it might work per Leah Libresco who some said was Larping when she announced her conversion.

        • While I would be happier if I believed I would never really die and life in eternal bliss, I am by no means in a crappy head space or unhappy. I am a very happy person.

          I would also be happier if I won the lottery, or if they invented a cure for cancer, but acknowledging these realities doesn't put me in a crappy head space.

          • Mike

            I see; yeah i think that's exactly where most cultural "atheists" are - just sort of happy go lucky ppl who can't be bothered thinking about "speculative" questions regarding gods and afterlifes etc. they're content with the secular virtues and as long as life doesn't throw them any big crises they'd rather not have their peace disturbed - ALL my friends are like this.

            But if hoping to win the lottery or hoping that they cure cancer puts you in a positive space why not hope once in a while - i day dream about winning sometimes, rarely but once in a while.

    • Mike

      My mother was a lapsed catholic agnostic who never went to church or mentioned it; my dad was a troubadour catholic but hardly ever attended church and was a degenerate sinner with a heart of gold; i was an agnostic cultural atheist until hitchens dawkins stirred something in me which put me on the path to asking the big questions and ultimately to Catholicism.

  • Clarification. Are these questions supposed to be discussed below? or are they fodder for future posts?

  • Atheists, do you ever raise your concerns to someone who is not there, spontaneously? And if so, why is this not a form of prayer?

    Note: I offer this as an illustration. It is said that there is no atheist in a foxhole. I've never been in a foxhole. But, I remember that when I was atheist and encountered problems, I might exclaim something like this, in private, "What are YOU doing to me!" And when I did so, my face was frequently oriented upwards.

    Just wondering if any other atheists have experienced this.

    • Loreen Lee

      Could just be the physical expression of some kind of anguish. The head goes back, say spontaneously, at such times. Perhaps the scientists will do a study of such phenomena (body language and it's relation to emotion?) sometime in the future. It may also be common to look for exterior causes, especially when we feel we have lost some kind of personal 'control'.

    • When I really really want something, I do in fact find myself thinking "please!". I first recall this when I spent the summer in a training program that would only accept half the participants for the actual position in the fall in the next year. It feels like an unsolicited or unpremeditated thought. It is not like I think, A) I really want this, b) I should ask for it c) I ask for it. It is more like I have an intense feeling that I really really want something and my internal narrative says please let me have it. Indeed, I have even then expressed this as a prayer.

      This never happens when something bad happens to me. I have never thought "what are YOU doing to me?" I simply do not find myself think that way. My "please" has never arisen as "please god". Though sometimes in desperation, I try a prayer, "if you exist, please give me this thing". Also, I have always gotten the thing I want, but I have always had a a very good idea that I would get it. I have never believed in a god either or thanked a got for getting me these things.

      To be fair, I think this counts as some evidence for a god. But, when considered with other evidence it is very poor evidence for a god. For example, when I specifically ask god to communicate with me, to enter my heart, show me he is real, I get no result. I also think human psychology could easily have evolved that we frame our desires in this way, when we desire something, we have an evolved inclination to go get it, where it is beyond our control, to ask others for it, this feeling does not go away when there is no one to ask. What I think I am experiencing is a very strong desire for something that is just out of reach, which I actually really think is coming to me anyway. In my mind, which is pretty incapable of having such thoughts without framing it in language, it gets framed as "please".

    • Ezra Casa

      Yeah......I have called on "god" with the provisio....of...God if you are there help me in my hour of need.Though that usually does not happen in the context of material things but is usually when I am deperate or in some danger physically or healthwise or on behalf of a family member in desperate need. At least it is an honest agnostic position if not that of a full blown atheist.

    • Thanks for the answers. I always thought it sort of peculiar and metaphorically kicked myself when I caught myself doing it, back then.

  • Two naturalists: Does naturalism have anything to say about free will? (Ideally with someone who accepts free will and someone who rejects it.)

    Two theists: How does free will work with God's sovereignty? (Ideally with a Thomist and a Molinist; discussions about predilection, that things are better that God loves more, would be most welcome. I'd recommend Ed Feser as the Thomist.)

    • I am a naturalist, and I do not subscribe to the view that there is libertarian free will. But I do not think these two positions are related. I think free will and determinism are possible on both naturalism and theism. I would say my argument for determinism is based on a view that "will" is the same thing as brain activity, but there is a subjective experience of it. This subjective experience or consciousness is an observer of what the brain is doing, or maybe better phrased as it is the experience of what the brain is doing. For there to be an ability for this consciousness to make decisions irrespective of the brain's activity, would require something immaterial, but not necessarily non-natural or divine that is subject to a different set of natural laws, but wait, then it would be deterministic...

      I think I may have just changed my mind, maybe free will requires some kind of mechanism that is independant of natural laws, order, and so on and this is supernatural. Ok I guess.

      Good question!

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    What does it mean for a religious believer to "have faith?" What does the word "faith" mean when used this way? Is faith a good thing to be encouraged, a bad thing to be avoided, or something else? Does everyone need to have faith?

    (I know I technically broke the 1 question rule... but I think they are all related. I'm basically asking "What is faith?" I find that Christians and atheists tend to have very different definitions, even amongst themselves.)

  • Damon

    Awesome idea, Brandon! Can't wait to see what sort of discussions come out of this.

    Here's my question to both: What do you envision for the future of the Catholic Church? More specifically, what role(s) do you see it taking in the coming years and what role(s) do you think it should take in the modern world, if any?

  • David Nickol

    To Catholics: Why did Jesus devote his entire earthly career appealing only to Jews ("lost sheep of Israel") if he knew they would reject him, and why did he spend so much time on halachic questions (interpretations of Jewish Sabbath law, for example) if the law was not to be binding after his death? (Sunday is not the Christian Sabbath. The Sabbath is not observed by Christians.)

  • Reuben Andrew Herrle

    Given that an infinite amount of time, by definition, is impossible to reach, is it possible that the universe exists eternally? That is to say, is possible that the universe never began, but always was?

    This is meant for an atheist and a Catholic. As a corollary, I would think that this would be impossible. Because if the universe never began, then time would be moving backwards infinitely, which it is clearly not doing.

    • Mike

      An infinite amount of time is not by defn impossible i don't think; some ppl think the universe will grow blow up shrink and regrow again, on an on for infinity - buddhism seems based on this belief.

    • I think these are good questions for mathematicians and physicists, but I don't know that they have much bearing on my atheism.

      I would suggest checking out the YouTube channel numberphile which has been blowing my mind recently on this and similar questions.

      With respect to time and infinity, there seem to be two views, one is time is linear, the other than it is a kind of manifold. Something very strange is certain about time and our impression of it is definitely not the full story. Time is not constant, it speeds up and slows down based on your relative velocity. It is not separate from space. Space and time are one thing. I can't really conceive of these things but they were demonstrated to be true to me when I studied physics and did the math.

      I think time is thought to have had a beginning in a sense, but what I really think physicists mean is that there is a known state of the universe where time no longer has meaning. I think it is that in the equations time becomes infinite or something contradictory. What this means is that in this state things like time, space, laws of physics no longer apply. There was a universe, but there wasn't time.

      I am willing to accept that this universe will suffer a heat death, meaning that all matter and energy will cool and dissipate so that it is fair to say nothing is happening, or almost nothing. All clocks will stop functioning, but I don't know if that is the same as time stopping.

      I just don't know.

  • Loreen Lee

    Actus essendi: I found the proof on Google. However, maybe SN may still want to take this original proof up into their 20 other proofs.
    http://aquinasactusessendi.blogspot.ca/2013/11/0310-most-proper-to-god-is-to-exist.html

  • David Nickol

    To Catholics: If unbaptized babies are saved, is a person more fortunate to die as an unbaptized baby? It appears that all others have a finite risk of eternal separation from God. Who, given the choice, would give up the certainty of salvation for an earthly life in which there is a risk, no matter how small, of infinite loss?

    • David Nickol • an hour ago

      To Catholics: If unbaptized babies are saved,

      Are unbaptized babies saved? I think the question remains unanswered in Catholicism.

      I'm of the opinion, that unbaptized babies of faithful Catholic parents are saved because of the faith of the parents. Who, presumably, would have baptized their children when they had the opportunity.

      Acts 2:37-39King James Version (KJV)

      37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

      39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children,

      and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

      But, not the children of parents who either do not believe in God or deny the efficacy of Baptism and thus show their lack of faith in God's promises.

      In Scripture, Jesus Christ is always depicted saving the children of the faithful. Example:

      Matthew 15:28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

      There is not one example of His saving a child whose parents are not faithful. In fact, there is an example of His challenging a parent whose faith was not strong:

      Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

      And again, Jesus is depicted as doing nothing where there was no faith:

      Matthew 13:56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

      is a person more fortunate to die as an unbaptized baby? It appears that all others have a finite risk of eternal separation from God. Who, given the choice, would give up the certainty of salvation for an earthly life in which there is a risk, no matter how small, of infinite loss?

      I am of the opinion that your false premise has led to a false conclusion. The Catholic Church does not teach that children who die unbaptized are automatically saved. Nor does the Catholic Church teach that unbaptized children are automatically condemned.

      I think this shows the wisdom of Allmighty God shining through the Catholic Church. Because, it puts a grave responsibility on the parents to do their best to provide for the salvation of their child's soul by ensuring that they receive the Sanctifying Grace of Jesus Christ in Baptism at the earliest moment in their life. Because long life is not promised to any of us.

      • David Nickol

        Are unbaptized babies saved? I think the question remains unanswered in Catholicism.

        My question began, "If unbaptized babies are saved . . . " not, "Given that the Catholic Church teaches unbaptized babies are save. . . . "

        I'm of the opinion, that unbaptized babies of faithful Catholic parents are saved because of the faith of the parents. . . . But, not the children of parents who either do not believe in God or deny the efficacy of Baptism and thus show their lack of faith in God's promises.

        So you believe some babies suffer eternally in hell because they were conceived by non-Catholic parents? (Or perhaps you believe the unbaptized babies go to Limbo instead of hell.) In what way would that not be unjust discrimination on the part of God? He rewards some babies because of who their parents were, and he punishes other babies because of who their parents were. In what way would that be either justice or mercy?

        • My question began, "If unbaptized babies are saved . . . " not, "Given that the Catholic Church teaches unbaptized babies are save. . . . "

          Did you not pose the question to Catholics? I quote:

          To Catholics: If unbaptized babies are saved,...

          Did you expect a Catholic to answer based upon some non-Catholic authority? That seems a bit unreasonable. But if you think it reasonable, explain why you think so.

          I am free to do so because the Catholic Church has no explicit Doctrine on the matter.

          So you believe some babies suffer eternally in hell because they were conceived by non-Catholic parents?

          No. I suspect it is possible that the unbaptized children of unfaithful parents, whether they be Catholic or not, might wind up in hell because of their parents lack of faith.

          (Or perhaps you believe the unbaptized babies go to Limbo instead of hell.)

          Limbo is not a Catholic Doctrine.

          In what way would that not be unjust discrimination on the part of God?

          God has placed children in the care of their parents. If the parents fail to fulfill their duty, it is the parent's fault if the child is not safeguarded.

          He rewards some babies because of who their parents were, and he punishes other babies because of who their parents were.

          He rewards the parents because of their faith and punishes the parents because of their lack of faith. It is they who have wrought either the salvation or the damnation of their child.

          In what way would that be either justice or mercy?

          God sheds His mercy only upon those who love Him:

          Exodus 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

          Those who are unfaithful, neither love God nor keep His commandments and will not share in His mercy but will receive His justice.

          Now, if you're asking how it is justice for the child. MY ASSUMPTION is that the child will likely follow in the parent's footsteps. But ultimately, that remains a mystery which only God can answer.

          However, as I said before, it shows the wisdom of God. Because it makes it all the more urgent that all parents baptize their children at the earliest outset.

          • George

            First of all, thank you for sharing what you believe.

            "He rewards the parents because of their faith and punishes the parents because of their lack of faith. It is they who have wrought either the salvation or the damnation of their child."

            So what is the experience like for the child in the afterlife? the child is not being punished you say. but is the child suffering?

            "However, as I said before, it shows the wisdom of God. Because it makes it all the more urgent that all parents baptize their children at the earliest outset."

            But if one is all powerful, one could make a system where baptism is not necessary in the first place.

          • George De Maria • 5 minutes ago

            First of all, thank you

            You're welcome.

            for sharing what you believe.

            This is not what I believe. It is what I speculate might be true based upon the evidence of Scripture and Tradition.

            I don't form strong opinions on things that the Catholic Church has not declared outright.

            So what is the experience like for the child in the afterlife? the child is not being punished you say. but is the child suffering?

            If this were true, yes, the child would suffer.

            But if one is all powerful, one could make a system where baptism is not necessary in the first place.

            I suppose. But I'm confronting reality. And the All Powerful Being in whom I believe and have faith did not choose that route.

            And, I am speculating. I made that clear from the start.

            Now, in the context of this thread, let me outline the facts.

            1. There is no definitive doctrine from the Catholic Church on this matter.

            2. The Catholic Church does not say that unbaptized children are automatically saved.

            3. Nor does the Catholic Church say that unbaptized children are automatically condemned.

            I suspect that the fate of the child is tied to the parents before the child arrives at the age of reason. Because there are several illustrations in Scripture, where Jesus saves children from physical ailments by the faith of the parents.

            Now, if you ask me whether there is any possibility that all children are saved, carte blanche? I'd say, yes. Based upon this one verse.

            Matthew 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

            The children in this verse though, I assume, are all children of faithful followers of Christ. But He doesn't qualify the statement in any way.

          • This is seeming very strange to me. It would seem to me that there is agreement that baptism is vitally important, One's eternal salvation may even depend on it. I know my grandparents were extremely angry at my parents' decision not to have me baptized.

            So on the one hand It may be that if a person is not baptized they cannot be saved. This would mean that millions of souls are lost because of their parents' actions or simply because they did not hear the gospel. This would seem to me to be pretty harsh and significantly dilute the value of Jesus' sacrifice.

            On ther other hand salvation is not contingent on things like baptism, growing up and accepting Christ exists, being confirmed and so on. Which again seems to significantly dilute the value of the church and again Jesus' sacrifice. Baptism doesn't seem to be vitally important in this case.

            Either way it seems hard to reconcile this system with a loving deity.

          • Brian Green Adams 2 days ago

            This is seeming very strange to me.

            And?

            It would seem to me that there is agreement that baptism is vitally important,

            Correct.

            One's eternal salvation may even depend on it.

            True.

            I know my grandparents were extremely angry at my parents' decision not to have me baptized.

            Rightfullly so.

            So on the one hand It may be that if a person is not baptized they cannot be saved.

            If a person is not baptized, they do no receive the grace of salvation at that point in time.

            This would mean that millions of souls are lost because of their parents' actions or simply because they did not hear the gospel.

            That is possibly so. That is why your grandparents were upset.

            This would seem to me to be pretty harsh and significantly dilute the value of Jesus' sacrifice.

            Jesus died for all men, but not all men were saved. Only those who love Him and obey His will:

            Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternalsalvation unto all them that obey him;

            On ther other hand salvation is not contingent on things like baptism, growing up and accepting Christ exists, being confirmed and so on. Which again seems to significantly dilute the value of the church and again Jesus' sacrifice. Baptism doesn't seem to be vitally important in this case.

            On the contrary, your speculation would lead to child's salvation being contingent on the parent's faith in Christ until the child is of the age of reason.

            Either way it seems hard to reconcile this system with a loving deity.

            I have actually argued on both sides of this issue. Going over the issue again, I would say that the parents would be punished for their negligence. But the child would be cleansed of their sin in purgatory.

            Keeping in mind this is merely speculation. I have COMPLETE faith that the Catholic Church teaches the Wisdom of God. And if they have not made an explicit statement on this issue to now, it is because God has seen fit to withhold this Teaching.

          • So would you agree that some humans do not have the opportunity to be baptized through no fault of their own or their parents'? Say a child who does seconds after being born to parents who had every intention of having it baptized? In this case the human would have to be purged in purgatory?

            Do you believe humans suffer in purgatory?

            Can you think of any good reason for a system like this?

            It seems that some humans will have to suffer through no fault of their own, either through the sin of ancient ancestors, or their own parents. Do you understand why a baby who dies an instant before baptism is deserving of purgatory, whereas one who dies an instant after goes directly to paradise? It seems to me that the only thing distinguishing these individuals is a ritual being performed irrespective of intentions. rather than say, any exercise of free will, good intentions choosing Jesus or good works.

      • David Nickol

        To quote your answer to another post:

        1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

        Regarding babies who die without baptism, how can you say "God is love" and then claim he saves the babies of Catholics but damns the babies of non-Catholics? Suppose a Catholic orphanage found a newborn baby on the doorstep. Do you think they would treat it differently than the baby of a Catholic if they somehow knew it was the baby of a non-Catholic? Would they be justified in doing so?

        • Regarding babies who die without baptism, how can you say "God is love" and then claim he saves the babies of Catholics but damns the babies of non-Catholics?

          I didn't say that. Read with more care.

          Suppose a Catholic orphanage found a newborn baby on the doorstep. Do you think they would treat it differently than the baby of a Catholic if they somehow knew it was the baby of a non-Catholic? Would they be justified in doing so?

          If a Catholic orphanage found a child, they would baptize the child at the outset based upon the faith of the Church.

          • George

            and the act of baptism would somehow have an effect on that baby's fate?

          • That seems an incomplete idea. I'm assuming you mean the child of unfaithful parents.

            Hm? Good question. If a person who does not believe in God submits to Baptism, he commits a sacrilege. The Baptism is not only not effective, it becomes counter productive since he incurs a sin rather than a blessing.

            What would happen then, if these unfaithful parents submit their child to baptism? I suspect they would incur the sacrilege but the child would be saved by the faith of the Church.

            Anyway, good night. Go back to work tomorrow.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You are confusing valid with illicit. The sacrament would certainly be valid according the Roman Catholic Church. However, I am pretty sure the baptism would also be licit.

          • The interior faith of the infant doesn't determine the validity of the sacrament of baptism. The interior faith of the parents shouldn't, either, since then (among other reasons) there would be no way to know for sure whether anyone was validly baptized. Maybe the Pope is invalidly baptized (and therefore not Catholic) because his parents were closet atheists.

            Rather, it is the faith of the Church, not of the individual parents, that validates infant baptism, and presumably the faith of the Church (at least the faith of Christ himself) is true faith, and not merely for show.

            That's my understanding, anyway. If I'm wrong, blame my RCIA! ;)

          • David Nickol

            I didn't say that. Read with more care.

            Did I misunderstand you? I thought you said you believed that God saved babies who died without baptism if they were the babies of Catholic parents, but not if they were "the children of parents who either do not believe in God or deny the efficacy of Baptism and thus show their lack of faith in God's promises."

            If a Catholic orphanage found a child, they would baptize the child at the outset based upon the faith of the Church.

            But if the baby dies, its fate depends on whether its parents were Catholic or not? Here's a hypothetical. Suppose an atheist woman who scoffs at Christianity is having a miscarriage and is rushed to a Catholic hospital. The Catholic doctors and nurses deliver the baby, but it is too premature to live for more than a few hours. They feel pity for the baby and pray for it, but they cannot baptize it against the mother's wishes. Does God listen to the doctors and nurses and save the baby, or does he say, "This is the baby of a non-Catholic, and so I won't save it?"

            Would it not be possible for the Church, or at least a large number of faithful Catholics, to pray for all babies who die without baptism, and for God to save those babies regardless of their non-Catholic parents? It is not the fault of a baby that it is conceived by non-Catholic parents, after all. And doesn't the Bible say that God wishes all people to be saved? Are you implying that he is unable to save the unbaptized babies of parents with no faith?

          • Did I misunderstand you?

            Yes.

            I thought you said you believed that God saved babies who died without baptism if they were the babies of Catholic parents,

            I didn't say "Catholic" parents. I said, "faithful Catholic" parents.

            Being Catholic does not guarantee salvation.

            but not if they were "the children of parents who either do not believe in God or deny the efficacy of Baptism and thus show their lack of faith in God's promises."

            Correct.

            But if the baby dies, its fate depends on whether its parents were Catholic or not?

            Faithful or not.

            Here's a hypothetical.

            Its all hypothetical. The Church has no explicit doctrine on the matter.

            Suppose an atheist woman who scoffs at Christianity is having a miscarriage and is rushed to a Catholic hospital. The Catholic doctors and nurses deliver the baby, but it is too premature to live for more than a few hours. They feel pity for the baby and pray for it, but they cannot baptize it against the mother's wishes. Does God listen to the doctors and nurses and save the baby, or does he say, "This is the baby of a non-Catholic, and so I won't save it?"

            In my opinion, God would listen to the prayers of the doctors and nurses and save the baby. As it is written:

            James 5:16-17New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

            Confession and Intercession. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. 17 Elijah was a human being like us; yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land.

            Would it not be possible for the Church, or at least a large number of faithful Catholics, to pray for all babies who die without baptism, and for God to save those babies regardless of their non-Catholic parents?

            Yes. That also shows forth the wisdom of God, because I know that many faithful pro-life Catholics, amongst whom I number myself, are already doing so. And Scripture says,

            Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

            It is not the fault of a baby that it is conceived by non-Catholic parents, after all. And doesn't the Bible say that God wishes all people to be saved? Are you implying that he is unable to save the unbaptized babies of parents with no faith?

            God has given us free will. We choose whether we want to live in union with God for eternity by our actions on this earth.

            A child can not choose. It is the parent's responsibility to choose for him. If the parent refuses to baptize his child. And the child winds up next to him in hell, whose responsibility is that?

          • David Nickol

            A child can not choose. It is the parent's responsibility to choose for him. If the parent refuses to baptize his child. And the child winds up next to him in hell, whose responsibility is that?

            Well, it is certainly not the child's. And yet the child would suffer eternally through no fault of its own. How this could be reconciled with an "omnipotent" and "omnibenevolent" God I cannot imagine.

          • Keep in mind this is only my speculation.

            However, that is a very good point. And it seems to me that in the past, I've argued against the very point I'm making today.

            Hm? How'd I get into that dilemma?

            Oh well, its late. Say good night, David.

  • Katherine Hickey

    What makes something beautiful?

    • Love.

      • What is love?

        • God is love.

          1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

          • Freddy

            Your god is a cunt.

          • What is God?

          • True Love

            Song of Songs 8:
            The Return from the Desert

            True Love

            6 Set me as a seal upon your heart,
            as a seal upon your arm;
            For Love is strong as Death,
            longing is fierce as Sheol.
            Its arrows are arrows of fire,
            flames of the divine.

            7 Deep waters cannot quench love,
            nor rivers sweep it away.
            Were one to offer all the wealth of his house for love,
            he would be utterly despised.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That is rather circular. God is love and love is God. Those definitions don't actually impart meaning to those words. You could define love in a more usual way and then try to show that God is love or that He perfectly exemplifies the virtue of love.

          • What is love? God. What is God? Love. Can you understand how this sounds trite and smug to people who experience love daily, for me from my wife. I fail to see why I should believe that this love is someone who took on human form and was tortured to "death" for my failure to not sin, 2 thousand years before I was born?

            I thought god was pure being and pure actuality? I thought he was a real human being named Jesus? Do you not believe these things?

            And if we are just going to quote the Old Testament, tell me about God's love for Uzzah in 2Samuel 6-7 who wanted to stop the ark from falling and was killed by god. Or the loving passage from psalm 137:

            "Happy is the one who sieizes your infants and dashes them against the rock"

            Sure you can "interpret" these passages and the many many other brutal passages in the Bible as being kind, good, consistent with true love. But if we are allowed this breadth of interpretation, I can surely interpret the passage you quoted quite differently too, couldn't i?

          • Katherine Hickey

            Yes this is why I think it would be interesting to have Catholics and Atheists respond to this: Catholics believe that beauty is intrinsically tied to God; I'm curious how atheists conceptualize beauty if it's not tied to an Absolute.

          • What is your own opinion on your question?

          • David Nickol

            Catholics believe that beauty is intrinsically tied to God . . . .

            Would Catholics actually assert that "This is beautiful" in all cases where it might be reasonably asserted (as a statement about a woman, a painting, a scientific theory, a scenic view, a melody, etc.) would be either true or false?

            How is beauty "intrinsically tied to God"? Is something beautiful if God says it beautiful? Or if it is somehow "Godlike"?

          • All that is good comes from God. Beauty is good, therefore it comes from God.

          • David Nickol

            But that in no way explains what beauty is or how to recognize it.

        • Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more.

    • Freddy

      Big tits

  • For Equal Dignity

    For a couple atheists to answer:
    Do you think that most believers today, even Catholic Christians, are your intellectual subordinates?

    The reason I ask this is because of the tone, demeanor, and harsh things that some prominent atheists say about Christians. For example, I think of what Richard Dawkins said at a Rally for Reason awhile back in which he called upon the masses to openly and harshly ridicule Catholics for their belief in the Doctrine of the Eucharist. Could you help me understand why it seems that some atheist blowhards think that most Christians are uneducated simpletons with next to no intellect?

    • Doug Shaver

      Do you think that most believers today, even Catholic Christians, are your intellectual subordinates?

      I have observed no significant correlation between religious belief and intellectual prowess.

      I think atheists who denigrate the intelligence of believers are exhibiting the same kind of tribalism that makes some believers think skeptics are just looking for some excuse to flout God's commandments.

    • I can't speak for most atheists, just myself. I absolutely do not think of theists as intellectual subordinates. I am pretty sure that many are superior to me in intelligence.

      But I think ridicule is fair game for anyone irrespective of their level on the intellectual ladder, if you think there is one.

      Ridicule the ridiculous. Ridicule atheists all you want, if it is actually funny, you probably have a point.

      For instance I think it is fair game to ridicule the pope for, in a statement denouncing the Paris attacks saying that he would violently attack someone for insulting him. I think Francis is probably my intellectual superior in many ways. But it think what he said there was silly, ridiculous and ridiculing it is entertaining, but also draws out a truth about the morality his ideology and theology must conform with. That indeed violence is an appropriate response to insults. Otherwise why not just say, what the law in my country at least has said for generations: that violence is unacceptable in all circumstances unless it is in self defence?

  • Steven Dillon

    To a Catholic: In light of its promulgation and endorsement of Lumen Gentium n. 22, does the Catholic Church currently teach what it condemned in previous ages?

    Lumen Gentium n. 22 states: "In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head."

    By contrast, Vatican 1 seems to teach that the Roman Pontiff is the exclusive subject of this supreme power by anathematizing anyone who says that the Pontiff has only the principal part, and not the absolute fullness of the supreme power over the universal Church.

    Commenting on Vatican 1's decree, Msgr. Van Noort explains, "if the plenitude of sacred power were to reside in the college of bishops (including the pope) in such fashion that the pope had more power than the rest of bishops, even considered collectively, he would still possess only the largest share of that power; but he would not strictly possess the total power without any restriction. In that hypothesis, the power of the Roman pontiff could still be called "supreme," but it would not be absolutely complete in itself. It is true that in the aforesaid hypothesis no individual bishop, and no collection of bishops (exclusive of the pope) would have power equal to the pope; but the power of the pontiff would not be absolutely complete in itself." - Van Noort, G., Msgr. Dogmatic Theology. Vol. II. Westminster, MD: Newman, 1957. pp. 281-82

    • To a Catholic: In light of its promulgation and endorsement of Lumen Gentium n. 22, does the Catholic Church currently teach what it condemned in previous ages?

      I can only respond based upon my faith that the Catholic Church is infallible. So, my answer would be, "No!"

      But the question is beyond my scope of knowledge and you didn't provide enough information for me to make a studied response. For one thing, a single Msgr's authority is not enough to weigh in against the Magisterium of the Church. For another, you didn't provide exact statements from Vatican I which could be compared to LG.

      You might want, however, to address that question to Fr. Barron. He can probably give you a detailed response.

  • Michael Murray

    ... pose them to top Catholic and atheist thinkers, based on their area of expertise. Each respondent will offer a short article in reply (roughly 750-1,000 words), and we'll post the two responses side-by-side for all of us to read and discuss.

    Can you give some examples of top Catholic and atheist thinkers that have agreed to do this? Is it just a case of "round up the usual suspects" from the list here

    http://strangenotions.com/contributors/

  • Ryan

    Does quantum physics refute the causality principle?

  • David Raineri-Maldonado

    (For a Young Earth Creationist-YEC-and an Evolutionist Catholic) Is YEC or Evolution a better understanding of the Biblical and geological data?

    • Mike

      The earth and everything with it dies and is reborn every time i fall asleep and wake up again ;).

  • David Raineri-Maldonado

    (For a Distributist Catholic and a Capitalist, either Catholic or Atheist) Which is the more moral system, Distributism or Capitalism?
    P.S.Sorry for the double post, but I wanted to get my questions in different posts, so they have different vote counts.

    • Mike

      Both.

  • Peter

    How did life arise from inanimate matter? Was it:

    1. A natural event which can be reproduced on suitable planets in other star systems?
    2. A freak event of nature and therefore unique to this planet?
    3. The result of divine intervention at one point in the history of the earth?

    • Mike

      It STILL is inanimate matter duncha know? ;)

    • I don't know, but my speculation is as follows. On some planets, maybe just one in several billion billion, the temperature is just right to allow for liquid water. On these planets certain chemicals form membranes. Others develop self-replicating properties. Some of these membranes are permeable and allow self-replicating molecules inside, where these molecules can replicate much better. The ones that replicate in such a way as to strengthen the membrane and allow proteins in that can build others. Some membranes get so big and split. The ones with self-replicating molecules that strengthen the membranes are able to do this and "heal" the membranes. By this point you have something I would call life. Probably even before this.

      Now is this likely? No! But extremely unlikely things happen constantly in our universe which in many ways is enormous, old and complex. But I know these building blocks exist. We know our planet existed in such a state for billions of years before multicellular life arose. At minimum we can say this is plausible. At least possible.

      What is the alternative? That something we have never observed formed chemicals into cells. Do we know this something exists? No. Do we have any idea of what mechanisms were employed? No.

      So I chose to think that a possible origin of life based on stuff we know exists by mechanisms we understand very well is how it originated, rather than some unknown mechanism by some unknown entity.

      • Peter

        If you tend towards option 1, I agree with you. However, I believe from our limited observations to date that the frequency of planets with liquid water would be far greater than one in few billion billion. We have already found several potential candidates from sampling only a few thousand.

  • I know it's a bit late, so unlikely to get a lot of upvotes, but it just occurred to me. Why not do a Leah Libresco style Ideological Turing Test with one set of questions here. For example, pick some reasonably well known Catholic and atheist/agnostics, or maybe people like me who are simply active in the forum, and ask that the atheists write answers to one set of questions from the Catholic perspective and another set from the non-Catholic perspective. The Catholics would do the same, writing one set of answers from the non-Catholic perspective and another from the Catholic perspective.

    The commenters would discuss the answers and vote on who they think is actually an atheist/agnostic and who is actually a Catholic.

  • Mike

    To Atheists: Which major world religion has the best chance of being right?

    • Doug Shaver

      Unitarian-Universalism.

      • Damon

        Is that because you find Unitarian - Universalist theology to be the most sensible of all religious theologies or are you just thinking wishfully?

        • Doug Shaver

          I'm not sure they even have a theology.

          • Damon

            Haha, good point. I guess I just don't understand Unitarian - Universalism very well. Then again, when the defining characteristic of your belief system is that you have no set beliefs, I'm not sure how much there is to understand.

          • Doug Shaver

            The question was: "Which major world religion has the best chance of being right?" The UU position is, in effect, that if God is real, and assuming there is going to be a judgment, the one thing God will not judge anyone on is what they believe about him, except only that he expects us humans to behave toward each other as if we were all family.

            Someone might object that UU does not count as a major world religion. If that objection is sustained, then my vote would go to Judaism, because it does not view the present life as simply an opportunity to qualify oneself for an eternal life.

      • Mike

        There's one in my neighborhood; they actually have a rainbow flag on their neon sign with the words "a liberal religious community where all are welcome"!

  • Evelyn Augusto

    To the atheist...what good has come from your "faithlessness"? How have you, your family or those around you benefitted?

    • Michael Murray

      Interesting question. You could ask as well of course what bad comes from an atheist's faithlessness. It's also worth remembering that the good or bad is irrelevant to the correctness of the faithlessness. If my lack of belief in God makes me a worse person than when I was a believer that does not mean my lack of belief is incorrect.

      You might be interested in this guy's website

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yearwithoutgod/

      if you haven't seen it already.

      • Evelyn Augusto

        Thanks Michael for the compliment and the link recommendation. "What bad comes from an a atheist's faithfulness"? I will compile a list for you.
        But instead of agreeing you don't answer my question...to back at me. Here goes...

        1) Bullying, which has become a disease in our schools that is destroying opportunities for children to trust, to learn, to feel safe and loved. God has been extracted like a tooth from our educational system, in part due to rabid atheists.

        Teaching our children reverence for God is a lesson in respect which permeates the individual. It also is a spring board for introducing morality and ethics. The interesting thing about this is that most people who have chose to turn their backs on God wave this banner: I'M A GOOD PERSON!
        And they very well may be. But I guarantee, because I have been paying attention for the sake of my own blog (www.letitallstarthere.com -- For Catholics who care ), that those same atheist were influenced by the presence and commitment of a theist. Somewhere in family tree there was a great grandmother, an aunt, an influential neighbor who believed in God and whose faith based practices were at work.

        I will continue with my list. Please visit my blog: http://www.letitallstarthere.com

        • Damon

          I attended Catholic school from K-12 and can assure you that bullying is alive and well in our parochial education system. Yes, we were taught reverence for God and morality and ethics but if you think that made us any safer from bullies than our friends in public school I'm afraid you are sadly mistaken.

          • Evelyn Augusto

            Yes. Of course you are right in saying that bullying occurred in the halls and classrooms of our Catholic schools but it was not the epidemic it is today. Can you ever recall children killing themselves or turning the classroom into a war zone like Columbine?
            Just asking.

          • Damon

            I think I'm probably a bit younger than you, my Catholic school K-12 education occurred within the last fifteen years (the Columbine massacre occurred when I was in Kindergarten). Thankfully I never experienced firsthand anything as horrific and tragic as a shooting massacre while growing up but throughout my school years we practiced regular lockdown drills as a means of preparedness if one were to occur on our grounds.

            And with regard to children killing themselves I'm sad to say that unfortunately, yes, I can recall instances of fellow students killing themselves. Depression and suicide were then and still are very real issues for children and teens in both public and parochial schools. Just because we prayed before every single lesson did not mean we were at all shielded from this sad reality.

          • Evelyn Augusto

            Yes. Of course you are right in saying that bullying occurred in the halls and classrooms of our Catholic schools but it was not the epidemic it is today. Can you ever recall children killing themselves or turning the classroom into a war zone like Columbine?
            Just asking.

    • Please don't take this the wrong way, but this is like asking a child "what good has come from your lack of beleif in Santa?"

      I would answer pretty much the same way, no good has particularly come of it, it is just something that I don't believe in.

      I could say it has led me to this place, to examine my beliefs more carefully, which I find interesting and entertaining. It has led me to a community of non believers that I am glad I met. I think it has also begun, at least for me, a process where I will be beginning activism to combat the harms of certain forms of theism. I would say these are good things, but I expect I would be doing similar works if I believed in a god.

      • Evelyn Augusto

        Thanks for your respectful response. I posed the question the way I had so I might understand what motivates an atheist. I once had a friend who was atheist say: "I am my own god". I wondered where that egocentric based thinking had gotten her. Please see my response to Michael, where I start listing what has happened to us since secularism and relativism have become a disease in our culture.

  • To Catholics. Why do you pray? Do you expect something to happen? To change? If so who would be making it happen?

    • Mike

      I pray bc i hope that my prayers reach God and bc i see it as a defiant act of hope, an act of rebellion against the "iron laws of material necessity" which seem to govern our universe; i also pray bc i know that it is the only act that has any hope of "breaking through" and it is the only "thing" that is truly "mine" and appears anyway completely "free" so therefore somehow "connected" to "the outside", a life line of sorts - plus it feels good to pray for other ppl and their problems and the oppressed etc. it also helps me feel like i am "contributing to the overall good" in our world - plus all the psychological and physical benefits such as a form of stress release so i'll "talk to god" on my way home about my problems; a way of thinking about decisions i have to make; asking for help with intellectual problems like asking aquinas to help me understand things.

      Honestly i used to not pray at all but now i can't seem to stop - see even if it's all bunk the temporal benefits are worth it.

  • Atheists: Is the human experience wholly reducible to material processes?

    • Doug Shaver

      Short answer: It depends on the atheist. Some of us are reductionists. Other atheists think we're out of our minds.

  • To atheists and Catholics: What is your idea of the perfect society? What would be the atheist's vision, and what would be the Catholic's vision?

  • This is too much fun. I have more questions. Some of these are related, but I could see them going in different directions.

    For Catholics only: What is the biggest problem for the Church? How would you go about addressing that problem?

    For Atheists only: Do you think Christianity (not religion, but just Christianity) is ultimately a bad thing for the world, or good thing, or both?

    For Catholics only: Why did Jesus come into the world in the time and place that He did, during the reign of Caesar Augustus in Nazareth?

    For Catholics and Atheists: What do you think is the biggest problem affecting the world today? How would you solve it?

    For Atheists: Which book, or books, present the best case for Atheism?

    For Atheists and Catholics: What do you think the world will look like a century from now, culturally/spiritually speaking?

    Okay, I'm done for now.

  • bdlaacmm

    For all: What would it take for you personally to abandon your current belief/lack or belief (whichever is appropriate)?

  • Francis Miller

    Without faith knowing what God is remains impossible but the evidence of God is available to all by reason alone. What persuades you by use of reason that God does or doesn't exist?

  • Laney C.

    Catholics:

    What if you believe in gods while actively mentally ill, but lose that faith once you are appropriately medicated? Which is the sane impulse? And what is the difference between a "true" religious experience and psychosis, anyway? How can you tell?

    Yours,
    L

  • fritzpatrick

    My question is about Original Sin, but it could be answered by an atheist as well as a Catholic: If the human race actually did start with two individuals, is it possible for that pair to commit a sin? In order to commit a sin you have to have the use of reason? Could language or whatever else is necessary for rationality develop in only two people? Or could rationality only have developed over a long period of time in the context of a larger community?

  • Better late than never :) I would be interested to hear from both Catholics and atheists/agnostics about their philosophical/ethical views on killing animals for food.
    Specific question:
    "Is it okay to kill animals for food and if so, are there certain ways that they should be killed?"

    Side questions:
    For deists, is modern day factory farming respectful to God's creations? Why or why not?

    For atheists/agnostics: What do you think of the philosophical viewpoints expressed by Peter Singer in Animal Liberation as well as some of the offshoots of his philosophical thinking such as the Great Apes Project?

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Hey... whatever happened to this "Two Views" series idea? I don't remember seing any articles about these questions.. unless I missed them?