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I consider the idea that God is three persons in one divine nature to be unintelligible. The way I understand the Apostles’ Creed is to realize that when human beings communicate with one another the communication is imperfect. If I tell you I feel sick to my stomach, you only partially understand how I feel. God communicates with mankind in three separate ways. We are saved by Jesus, God the Father created us and keeps us in existence, and the Holy Spirit answers our prayers. When God communicates with mankind the communication is always perfect. If it was not for the doctrine of the Trinity, we would have to believe God was multi-tasking. Only human beings multi-task.
Despite their protestations, Christianity is clearly not a monotheistic religion. They have thousands of minor gods, or maybe- deputy gods. They’re call them ‘saints’.
There is no theological basis for your claim that Catholics consider the canonised saints to be gods, deputy or any other kind!
The saints are given to us simply as role models who have lived virtuous lives as a result of their Catholic Faith; they have the power of intercession BEFORE God. That’s all. There’s a huge difference between a saint who may intercede for us at the throne of God, and an all-powerful, all-knowing being – the definition of God.
Prince Charles may intercede for a subject before the throne of Queen Elizabeth, but he is not the monarch, to offer a simple analogy.
Okay, but people actually do pray to saints. What does that do?
In the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, we, the faithful, can help one another.
The Church is comprised, not only of those of us on earth, but the saints in Heaven (the Church Triumphant) the souls in Purgatory, being finally cleansed before entering Heaven (the Church Suffering) and those of us on earth, fighting to free ourselves from sin and fighting, too, to defend the Church’s teachings under attack (The Church Militant)
So, when we pray to the saints in Heaven, for example, to help us to grow in a particular virtue, we can be certain of that saint’s help in acquiring the necessary graces for us. OR if we pray to a particular saint for help with a specific problem, we can be certain of that saint’s help, although, as always with prayer, since we have finite minds, limited intelligence and limited knowledge of what is best for us, our prayer may not always be answered in the way we hope. I could give you lots of examples of that from my own life, but time is short right now and I’ve soon got to be elsewhere. That, however, is how we interact with the other parts of the Church – we pray for the souls in Purgatory to help get them into Heaven and we pray to the saints for help in various ways.
There are some very interesting stories, for example, about the way St Anthony helps us to find lost items. This custom comes from an incident where a fellow novice carried off a valuable psalter which St. Anthony was using. St. Anthony prayed very hard that the psalter would be found. After seeing an alarming apparition of St. Anthony, the novice returned the psalter. So goes the story. However, many of us have prayed, in despair, for help in finding a lost item and — found it! Happened to me just a few days ago. Try it!
PS not so long ago I heard a story of a long-term unemployed man who prayed hard to St Joseph (Carpenter, remember?) to help him find a job and on the Feast of St Joseph, that man received a most unexpected telephone call from someone he’d not heard from in years, offering him a job. Long story, that’s the gist of it, but true. Again, hope you’re not unemployed, but do try St Joseph; he is very helpful in winning all sorts of graces and helping solve problems. Read up on the saints – they are a very rich part of our traditional Faith.
The saints are the friends of God and therefore have great intercessory power with Him. That’s why we on earth solicit their prayers with great hope in their help. Think of it as a person very close to an earthly monarch who can win favours for his petitioning friends by reason of his closeness to the king/queen, only in the case of the communion of saints there is no worldly ambition.
That’s the same analogy I’ve just given – another case of “great minds think alike”… or will you stop pinching my analogies 😀
If I find where you’ve hidden your analogies you may rest assured I will nick them!!
Please don’t invent straw men.
No, I don’t want to do that. Where did I invent one (so I know not to do it again)?
The Trinity is a Mystery of Faith – the word itself does not appear in Scripture but there are several pre-figurations: this short article might be helpful
Because the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity is a “mystery of faith”, it will always appear unintelligible to the rationalist mind. Faith is a divine gift that allows us to go beyond what we can prove by human reason to accept what God reveals to us about Himself, “who can neither deceive nor be deceived”. It’s like the Gospel record of St. Thomas refusing to believe that Christ had risen from the dead unless he got to put his fingers into the holes in His hands and feet, etc. After Jesus appeared to Him in the presence of the other Apostles and provided the necessary proofs, St. Thomas fell on his knees and proclaimed “My Lord and my God”. In response, Jesus said “you believe because you have seen, Thomas. Blessed are those who believe without seeing. So we have to take God at His word if we are to claim to have divine faith. Otherwise, we have only human faith and that will not save our soul.
It is enough for us that the Church has always taught the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, a divine truth that has been believed by the greatest saints and theologians through 2000 years, some of them with incredibly brilliant intellects, far superior to ours. If it was good enough for them to believe in this great mystery by faith, after all Christ Himself declared it in the Gospels when He said “the Father and I are one”, then it should be good enough for us. St. Paul confirms the truth of it when he declares that in heaven “there is the Father, the Spirit and the Word, and these three are one”.
I guess the closest human explanation of this mystery that I ever read was a saint’s description of the three-leave clover on a single stem. I found that simple explanation very profound and convincing, as close as any of us will ever get to understanding what is after all a divine mystery.
I don’t agree with Caro Olson’s article. You shouldn’t use the phrase “mystery of faith” to cover up a poor understanding of the doctrine of the trinity. The most important truth God has revealed to us is that Jesus is alive in a new life with God, or will be at the end of time, and that the same good thing can happen to us. There is no evidence for it, but there are reasons to believe. I don’t see any point in calling Heaven a “mystery.” In its wisdom, the Catholic Church developed the doctrine of the Trinity. That Jesus is God and a human being is more insightful that thinking Jesus is just a human being. It is a reason for being a Catholic instead of a Muslim. But we don’t have to swallow the “three persons in one divine nature” formulation of the doctrine.
A mystery is not a “cover up”. Any detective will tell you that. It requires work, certainly, thought to come to the truth but in the end, the crook is usually caught!
In the case of Mysteries of Faith there is certainly another dimension but no more so than any other aspect of believing. It was the atheist George Bernard Shaw who wrote, in his Preface to his play St Joan: If Joan was mad, all Christendom was mad, too; for people who believe devoutly in the existence of celestial personages are every whit as mad in that sense as the people who think they see them.”
In the humorous video clip below, sent to me by a reader this morning, we can see the folly of applying liberal mindsets to mathematics. The same principle applies to divinely revealed truths, perhaps not fully understandable to our finite minds – which does not, of course, make them any less true… Enjoy the video clip…
One thing always surprises me is the number of times I hear people, even priests, say Jesus was a human being.
I was taught he is a divine being who took on our human nature.
This must be one of those teachings that has gone AWOL in the modern church.
With regard to mystery and cover up here is a link to a trailer about the movie “The Principle”. What is now clear is that scientists have been covering up and they are maintaining a mystery i.e. Dark Energy, Dark Matter, Dark Flow none of which can be proved. If you get the full video you will see two sets of scientists – one which attempts to follow the evidence and another that rejects and hangs on to theories which can no longer be maintained. Interestingly, Dark Energy, Dark Matter, Dark Flow are not necessary if we accept that the Earth is not moving and that the Universe revolves around the Earth. That is what the evidence suggests – look for yourself and decide.
The Church has very clearly defined and upheld the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity as an infallible article of the Catholic Faith, (dogma), the rejection of which renders any dissenting Catholic faithless and excommunicate by default. We are not our own theologians and philosophers who have freedom to pick and choose only those teachings with which we are comfortable. Christ Himself announced that He and His Father are one (in divine essence). If He were not God made man, the Second Person of the Trinity, then there is no Redemption of mankind. It was the blood of the God-man that was spilled on Calvary in reparation for sin. If you take away the divine nature of Christ, that He is one with the Father in divinity, then you are left with a purely human religion that is vain and empty. This is the logical end of those who err by rejecting the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, which is central to the Redemption of mankind.
The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity is in the Apostles Creed. This is what the Catholic Church teaches. The Catholic Church does not teach that there are three persons in one divine nature. This is just an attempt to explain the Apostles’ Creed. I think my explanation, which I got from a book written by a Catholic theologian, is better.
The so-called Catholic theologian you read is a in very grave error if he wrote contrary to this extract from Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical DIVINUM ILLUD MUNUS. You can read the whole Encyclical here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_09051897_divinum-illud-munus.html
“The Catholic Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity
3. Before We enter upon this subject, it will be both desirable and useful to say a few words about the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity. This dogma is called by the doctors of the Church “the substance of the New Testament,” that is to say, the greatest of all mysteries, since it is the fountain and origin of them all. In order to know and contemplate this mystery, the angels were created in Heaven and men upon earth. In order to teach more fully this mystery, which was but foreshadowed in the Old Testament, God Himself came down from the angels unto men: “No man bath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He bath declared Him” (John i., 18). Whosoever then writes or speaks of the Trinity must keep before His eyes the prudent warning of the Angelic Doctor: “When we speak of the Trinity, we must do so with caution and modesty, for, as St. Augustine saith, nowhere else are more dangerous errors made, or is research more difficult, or discovery more fruitful” (Summ. Th. la., q. xxxi. De Trin. 1 L, c. 3). The danger that arises is lest the Divine Persons be confounded one with the other in faith or worship, or lest the one Nature in them be separated: for “This is the Catholic Faith, that we should adore one God in Trinity and Trinity inUnity.” Therefore Our predecessor Innocent XII, absolutely refused the petition of those who desired a special festival in honour of God the Father.For, although the separate mysteries connected with the Incarnate Word are celebrated on certain fixed days, yet there is no special feast on which the Word is honoured according to His Divine Nature alone. And even the Feast of Pentecost was instituted in the earliest times, not simply to honour the Holy Ghost in Himself, but to commemorate His coming, or His external mission. And all this has been wisely ordained, lest from distinguishing the Persons men should be led to distinguish the Divine Essence. Moreover the Church, in order to preserve in her children the purity of faith, instituted the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, which John XXII. afterwards extended to the Universal Church.He also permitted altars and churches to be dedicated to the Blessed Trinity,and, with the divine approval, sanctioned the Order for the Ransom of Captives,which is specially devoted to the Blessed Trinity and bears Its name. Many facts confirm its truths. The worship paid to the saints and angels, to the Mother of God, and to Christ Himself, finally redounds to the honour of the Blessed Trinity. In prayers addressed to one Person, there is also mention of the others; in the litanies after the individual Persons have been separately invoked, a common invocation of all is added: all psalms and hymns conclude with the doxology to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; blessings, sacred rites, and sacraments are either accompanied or concluded by the invocation of the Blessed Trinity. This was already foreshadowed by the Apostle in those words: “For of Him, and by Him, and in Him, are all things: to Him be glory for ever”(Rom. xi., 36), thereby signifying both the Trinity of Persons and the Unity of Nature: for as this is one and the same in each of the Persons, so to each is equally owing supreme glory, as to one and the same God. St. Augustine commenting upon this testimony writes: “The words of the Apostle, of Him, and by Him, and in Him are not to be taken indiscriminately; of Him refers to the Father, by Him to the Son, in Him to the Holy Ghost” (De Trin. 1. vi., c. 10; 1. i., c. 6). The Church is accustomed most fittingly to attribute to the Father those works of the Divinity in which power excels, to the Son those in which wisdom excels, and those in which love excels to the Holy Ghost. Not that all perfections and external operations are not common to the Divine Persons; for “the operations of the Trinity are indivisible, even as the essence of the Trinity is indivisible” (St. Aug., De Trin., I. 1, cc. 4-5); because as the three Divine Persons “are inseparable, so do they act inseparably” (St. Aug., i6.). But by a certain comparison, and a kind of affinity between the operations and the properties of the Persons, these operations are attributed or, as it is said, “appropriated” to One Person rather than to the others. “Just as we make use of the traces of similarity or likeness which we find in creatures for the manifestation of the Divine Persons, so do we use Their essential attributes; and this manifestation of the Persons by Their essential attributes is called appropriation” (St. Th. la., q. 39, xxxix., a. 7). In this manner the Father, who is “the principle of the whole God-head” (St. Aug. De Trin. 1 iv., c. 20) is also the efficient cause of all things, of the Incarnation of the Word, and the sanctification of souls; “of Him are all things”: of Him, referring to the Father. But the Son, the Word, the Image of God is also the exemplar cause, whence all creatures borrow their form and beauty, their order and harmony. He is for us the Way, the Truth, and the Life; the Reconciles of man with God. “By Him are all things”: by Him, referring to the Son. The Holy Ghost is the ultimate cause of all things, since, as the will and all other things finally rest in their end, so He, who is the Divine Goodness and the Mutual Love of the Father and Son, completes and perfects, by His strong yet gentle power, the secret work of man’s eternal salvation. “In Him are all things”: in Him, referring to the Holy Ghost.”
So, it is clear that you are in error in this matter. The Church has always taught the unity of the Three Divine Persons in the unity of one Divine nature, which rather raises questions about this theologian you have been reading. My advice would be not to read anything else written by this man.
Defining helps but it has to be followed. Here is a link indicating this has not happened.
This encyclical may have had value in its day and age, but to quote this hogwash now does not now promote faith in Jesus and Catholicism. I object to the use of the word “mystery” to modify “Blessed Trinity.” The only mystery worth speaking about in this day and age is the mystery of what a human being is. If you understand this mystery, then you can understand the arguments for God’s existence, and the reasons to believe in Jesus.
This makes no sense to me: “…distinguishing the Persons men should be led to distinguish the Divine Essence.” Human beings (finite beings) have an essence that limits their existence. God (infinite being) is a pure act of existence without a limiting essence. There is no such thing as a “Divine Essence.”
God is a person only by analogy, which is a very weak form of knowledge. I exist and I am a person. Since God exists, He must be a person too.
I’m not sure what the hogwash is that you are referring to – is it Humanae Vitae or the Trinity – please explain and also please what you means when you say or imply that we can understand the mystery of what a human being is and therefore that we will then be able to understand God’s existence. This is not clear.
We can comprehend free will because we have it. But we can’t explain what the relationship is between our selves and our bodies. It is a mystery with the understanding that there are no mysteries in science. In science, there are only unanswered questions. But we know other humans exist, which makes us finite beings. Finite beings are a composition of essence and existence. An infinite being (God) is a pure act of existence. A universe with an infinite being is more intelligible than a universe with only finite beings.
Science is the study of natural phenomena, theology is the study of supernatural truth. Human beings are created with a natural body infused by God with a supernatural soul. This latter, more important, element of human existence and human destiny should not be confused with the former. Science should stick with investigating natural phenomena and leave the divine to the Church.
Here is a story that places into perspective the limit of human understanding and the necessity for humility when trying to understand an omnipotent being, God and how God is.
The great Doctor of the Church St. Augustine of Hippo spent over 30 years working on his treatise De Trinitate [about the Holy Trinity], endeavoring to conceive an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity.
St Augustine with the boy on the beach
Augustine meets a boy on the beach
He was walking by the seashore one day contemplating and trying to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity when he saw a small boy running back and forth from the water to a spot on the seashore. The boy was using a sea shell to carry the water from the ocean and place it into a small hole in the sand.
The Bishop of Hippo approached him and asked, “My boy, what are doing?”
“I am trying to bring all the sea into this hole,” the boy replied with a sweet smile.
“But that is impossible, my dear child, the hole cannot contain all that water” said Augustine.
The boy paused in his work, stood up, looked into the eyes of the Saint, and replied, “It is no more impossible than what you are trying to do – comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small intelligence.”
The Saint was absorbed by such a keen response from that child, and turned his eyes from him for a short while. When he glanced down to ask him something else, the boy had vanished.
Some say that it was an Angel sent by God to teach Augustine a lesson on pride in learning. Others affirm it was the Christ Child Himself who appeared to the Saint to remind him of the limits of human understanding before the great mysteries of our Faith.
Through this story, the sea shell has become a symbol of St. Augustine and the study of theology.
You are using the word “mystery” to cover-up bad theology. I consider “three persons in one divine nature” bad theology. A better theological explication of the Apostles Creed is that God communicates with us in three separate ways: He creates us and keeps us in existence (Father). He answers our prayers (Holy Spirit). He became man and died for our sins (Son).
Editor: you keep repeating the same error. Since the Trinity is a revealed (by God) truth of the Faith, you are accusing God of “bad theology”. Gerragrip! “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” – St. Augustine
To the Editor:
The Apostles’ Creed does not say “three persons in one divine nature.” It says “I belief in the Father , the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We know that God is a person by analogy. To talk about three persons is inconsistent with this understanding of God’s personhood. To talk about God’s “nature” is not consistent with the metaphysical concepts of essence and existence. There is no metaphysical concept called “nature.”
Editor: you simply do not get it, David, you do not get it. That’s because you have fallen into the clutches of Protestantism, where confusion reigns. I have explained to you, over and over and over again – as have other bloggers – the doctrine of the Church on the Trinity, and you won’t accept it. I’m releasing this post only to underline your obstinacy for our readers and bloggers, but I know that the latter group is thoroughly tired of your nonsensical determination to go round in circles, so here’s the deal. Either reflect on everything explained to you already on this thread and accept that you cannot possibly be more knowledgeable on this teaching than all the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church, all the Councils and Catechisms, or – blog elsewhere because this will be your final contribution on this blog. I’m not wasting any more time reading and responding to your gobbledegook. Pure Faith – divine and Catholic Faith – must be exercised in relation to the teaching on the Trinity, as it is not something that can be philosophically or scientifically rationalised as you keep trying to do, so, unless you come to see that, you are wasting your time and ours. You seem determined to stick to your philosophical/pseudo-scientific/mathematical approach while we are even MORE determined to exercise our divine and Catholic Faith in order to embrace the revelation from God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – of the three Person in one divine nature – so don’t waste your time submitting any more comments, David; they will NOT be released. That is a promise.
Your use of the term “hogwash” to describe the Church’s immemorial teaching on the Blessed Trinity tells me all I need to know about you.
I have presented the magisterial teaching of the Church in the matter of the Blessed Trinity, a divinely revealed truth that can never change. You have rejected this teaching as irrational, thereby demonstrating that your faith is mere human faith, not that supernatural gift from God that is required to believe divinely revealed mysteries that are beyond human comprehension. You do not take God at His word. If you can’t rationalise it you won’t believe it.
Here are your forerunners in the Gospels:
“Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him. And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. (John 6: 54-70).
Not quite sure what point you’re trying to make. Perhaps if you were a little more specific. We are discussing here the theological truth underpinning the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. Morality is another discussion altogether.
OK fair point
Actually, I think you’re saying that Catholic dogmas have to be acted upon as well as believed. You cite the failure of priests to act on the Church’s infallible moral teaching to fight contraception, etc., as an example double standards in some. Am I right?
Yes, but I take the point that I was off thread a bit
It’s all essential knowledge for Catholics in the long run, so no harm done.
The idea that God infuses the human being with a soul conflicts with the doctrine of Original Sin. There is nothing supernatural about a human being until they are baptized. The idea that the human soul goes to purgatory after death is just theological speculation to account for the gap between when we die and when Jesus comes against to “judge the living and the dead.” A human being is a composition of form (soul) and matter (body). The human soul is spiritual because we can comprehend what makes us different from animals, but can’t define what makes us different.
I am struggling to remember your previous visits here, and emails to me, but I think it is now very clear indeed that, whatever your religion, you are not a Catholic. You clearly have a problem with the supernatural (from memory, I believe you once told us that you are the only “expert” on the Turin Shroud who does not see anything supernatural about it) so I’m surprised that you have signed up for/returned to this blog. Indeed, I’ve just clicked on your name to reach this link… No wonder we’re poles apart on Christian theology.
If you read our House Rules you will see that while we extend a welcome to those not of our Faith, we draw the line at going round in circles, especially when the matter under debate is elementary theology. And there is also a clear statement to the effect that you can travel round in circles all you like in an effort to “de-convert” us from divine and Catholic Faith but you will be wasting your time. Completely.
It’s nothing short of ridiculous to argue that the existence of the soul from the moment of conception “conflicts with the doctrine of Original Sin”. Downright nonsense. It is the soul which “makes” someone a person. Check out any corpse if you don’t believe me. The idea that a child is in some sort of in-between stage until Baptism confers a soul is utter gobbledegook.
Click here to reach a very basic Catechism. You will find answers to everything you have raised on this thread. But note, David; if our bloggers take the trouble to answer your questions and post evidence which you then ignore… well, take a quick look at those House Rules and don’t say you weren’t warned!
Women can never have access to the Priesthood, because it is not included in the plan of God. Even if a bishop was to conduct an “ordination”, it would not be valid, it would be a travesty and sacrilege which, in my opinion, would be of an extreme gravity as there would be a risk of rupture in the “apostolic succession”. That we must fear most.
Well said, Lionel, not to mention the fact that some mad feminist might end up being Pope and where would that leave me? Say nothing 😀
This is an atheist-friendly blog. Atheist-friendly Christians never say anything that gets so-called atheists and agnostics mad. Furthermore, they say a lot of things that are irrational, which helps justify not believing in God.
It is a scientific fact that human beings did not evolve from animals because human beings have free will. This scientific fact infuriates most American biologists. When asked about free will, American biologists say something irrational (free will is an illusion) or dishonest (free will is an emergent property of the brain). But an atheist-friendly person will never say these biologists are irrational and dishonest. What they say is that these biologists have a “materialistic worldview.” They then make the absurd statement God infuses human beings with some kind of spiritual substance they mistakenly call the “soul.”
The other way atheist-friendly Christians cater to American scientists is by promoting the god-of-the-gaps arguments for God’s existence (Big Bang, fine-tuning of physical constants, origin of life, and evolution). These arguments make no sense, and atheists/agnostics see this intuitively. However, atheists/agnostics are troubled by these arguments and don’t like to admit that there is no explanation for the origin of life and the descent with modification of bacteria into whales in a period of a hundred million decades. I’m using decades instead of years because it takes two decades for a fertilized human egg to produce all of the cells in a human body. Atheist-friendly Christians never force American biologists to admit this because it upsets them.
American biologists always say in peer-reviewed articles and biology textbooks that natural selection, epigenetics, natural genetic engineering, and facilitated variation only explains the adaptation of species to the environment, not common descent.
This brings us to the absurd article published in the American Journal of Physics about thermodynamics and evolution. The complexity of life can be quantified by looking at the primary structure of hemoglobin, which is chain of 600 amino acids, of which there are 20. Sickle-cell anemia is caused by one amino acid in one place being the wrong one. The probability of getting a protein by the random selection of amino acids is very small given the time over which common decent occurred (there are only 26 zeros in 100 million decades measure in nanoseconds).
The zeroth law of thermodynamics is that you measure temperature with a thermometer. The first law is the definition of a calorie. The second law says that a gas will fill up the entire container it is in. The third law is that 273 degrees below zero in Celsius is as cold as it gets. The second law is true because that is the most probable distribution of molecules. Some people think, quite stupidly, that the existence of proteins violates the second law of thermodynamics. The American Journal of Physics published an article about this with an absurd calculation proving that the second law was not violated. If American Christian scientists were more interested in preaching the gospel than in being atheist-friendly, they would make the American Journal of Physics retract the article.
It was a very interesting comment on science, but nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of this thread. We’re discussing the supernatural and you can’t get past the natural. Pity you don’t have the same insight into, and zeal for, the science of God (theology and divine revelation) that you clearly have for that greatly inferior earthly discipline.
The discussion is about the doctrine of the Trinity, which is set forth in the Apostles’ Creed. I believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but I disagree with the idea that there are three persons in one divine nature. I think it is inconsistent with a rational understanding of God. Remember that the Church teaches that we know God exists from reason. Your ideas about the Trinity undermines the argument for God’s existence and a rational understanding of God.
The Church teaches that we can know a certain amount about God and creation from reason, but some teachings are so sublime, beyond our natural reason, that they need to be divinely revealed to us, and the Trinity is one of those beliefs. It can be found prefigured in Scripture and it has always been held by Christians from the beginning, but that doesn’t stop non-Catholics from dismissing stuff that they don’t like or can’t easily understand.
As for the bizarre idea you put forward about babies not having souls until baptised, I believe that notion is based on Genesis 2:7, that one receives a soul and becomes a human when one draws one’s first breath. But in this case “breath” is one of the Bible’s metaphors. Breath is a biblical metaphor for one’s spirit or life-principle, the animus, or soul — since the only living humans in everyday life are breathing humans — but breath and spirit are not the same thing.
Modern science reveals that the unborn have been already “breathing” through the placenta (the pre-birth organ equivalent in function to the mouth), which has been taking oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream.
It is clear that a child is human before birth. When Mary’s greeting reached Elizabeth’s ears in Luke’s Gospel, the unborn John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb (1:44); we are also told that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (1:15). The unborn John the Baptist is also described as a brephos (Luke 1:41, 44), this being a Greek term meaning a babe, an infant, a newborn child. These indicate the humanity of the unborn John the Baptist, who was then in the third trimester (1:36-40).
As I say, the idea of baptism being the point at which a child is given a soul is just bizarre and makes no sense.
You should have posted the Athanasian Creed. I was leaving that honor for you. 😉
Your post doesn’t make any sense. This is from the link that Madame Editor posted in reply to you:
“To understand God one has to be God.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa
Exactly which paragraph in the Baltimore Catechism conflicts with what I am saying? Does the Catechism say God gives souls to human beings? Such an idea conflicts with the doctrine of original sin. We inherit the stain of original sin from our parents through sexual reproduction. There is nothing supernatural about a human being until baptism. Does the Catechism say the human soul goes to purgatory after we die? I’m pretty sure it does not.
I knew this thread would be a bottomless pit of antagonists. But, ohhhh i just had to come and read the retorts anyway. Its like walking thru the valley of death with all the Atheists and Protestants up in the hill throwing rocks at us. But fear not Brethren for we have our Helmets, shields and swords and oh yes thy rod and staff
I Can Fly,
I know exactly what you mean. It never ceases to amaze me that there may be years in between “God” threads, but they draw in the atheists, agnostics et al, just the same. Keeps us on our toes, though, thinkest thou not?
No doubt about it. I know most of them will never change their mind until they are kneeling at the throne. But We are just the sower of seeds. The Holy Spirit collects the Harvest. Some seeds fall here….and some there. The sweet Lord blessed me with Faith; but that will never be a good enough answer. And as it should be; and when they finally do get it, their advocacy is all the stronger. So, we shall keep sowing and singing praises for our perescution. 😎
A human being is a composition of form and matter. The form is a principle or incomplete being that makes us human beings and matter is the principle or incomplete being that makes us different from one another. The form is spiritual because we understand freewill but we can explain what the relationship is between ourselves and our bodies. We can also say that human beings are embodied spirits or spirited bodies. Adam and Eve had sanctifying grace before Eve sinned. Now, there is nothing supernatural about humans until they are baptized.
I enjoyed the response to the elementary question put to Father Albert which he answers using Holy Scripture and St. Thomas Aquinas. I find it so amazing that someone can come on a Catholic blog and state why they choose to disregard a part of Catholic doctrine, as though a Catholic has any choice at all in the matter (assuming of course, that they are Catholic). It’s one thing to say, hey, I don’t understand but I believe it with divine faith because God said so. But to make the claim that you have chosen not to believe a point of doctrine because it doesn’t make sense to your rational mind leads me to conclude that this person is not Catholic or needs to read a catechism or two to learn their Catholic faith.
“There is no such thing as a “Divine Essence”” is an untrue statement. God’s Esse (Act of Existing) is identical to His Essence (Nature, What-ness), and vice versa. In God, Esse and Essence are indistinct from each other. Therefore, if there is no such thing as Divine Essence, then there is no such thing as Divine Esse, which is absurd.
If you read through the comments, you will see that David Roemer is not a Catholic, but an evangelical Protestant. The confusion of thinking is thus explained.
Giving reasons to be a Catholic instead of a Protestant is called proselytizing. Giving reasons to believe in life after death instead of being an agnostic or atheists is called evangelizing.
Giving reasons to be a Catholic instead of a Protestant is not, as you say, “Proselytizing”. The proper name is ‘Apologetics’. Proselytising is telling Protestants that they need to abandon their religious errors and become Catholic. The other name for it is “evangelizing”!
You just keep digging a deeper and deeper hole for yourself, David. Why? You’re clearly not theologically clued up, so why portray yourself as more enlightened in the great mysteries of the Christian Faith than the saints and doctors of the Church? Believe me, you are so very far from enlightened.
Thanks. That explains everything.
A finite being’s essence limits its existence. God is a pure act of existence without a limiting essence. Talking about a “divine essence” implies that God is a finite being. The wisdom of the doctrine of the Trinity is that it is consistent with the idea that God does not have an essence. The idea that God is three persons in one nature is out of date in my opinion.
You call God “a pure act of existence”, yet God is eternal, no beginning and no end, and therefore does not depend on an “act” for His existence. You are one very confused individual, my friend! Take my advice and leave the complicated stuff to Churchmen who know what they’re talking about.
And by the way, divinely revealed truths don’t go “out of date”, only out of fashion with those who prefer their way to God’s way.
Good point about “act of existence.” My metaphysics teacher was Norris Clarke, S.J., author of “The One and the Many.” I got the use of the word “act” from him. Finite beings are a composition of essence and existence. God exists but does not have a limiting essence. Okay?
That Jesus is alive in a new life with God does not go out of date. Nor does the doctrine of the Trinity go out of date. Remember that it is wrong to cast your pearls before swine. Talking about “three persons in one divine nature” is out of date. We are not living in the 17th century when there were only Protestants and Catholics. We are living in a time when the faculty at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale are mostly atheists. Loose lips sink ships.
So you’re a doctrinal relativist, then? You would alter divine truth to suit the atheistic/agnostic faculties of particular universities?
Hmmm! And what about St. Paul’s admonition that Catholics should preach the truth “in season and out of season”.
Loose lips may indeed sink ships, as you say, but tight lips, when divinely revealed truth is under assault, costs immortal souls. There is no such thing as “out of date” when speaking of divine revelation.
It is the Catholic Truth that is catering to atheists. The Catholic Truth says human beings have souls and atheists have a materialistic world view because they don’t agree with this. I am saying the human soul is spiritual and atheists are either liars of idiots about the human soul.
You said humans don’t have souls until they are baptised. That’s wrong.
I think atheists believe in souls just not that they are immortal!
Human beings are superior to animals because we have free will. Atheists admit that human beings did not evolve from animals because free will is not a scientific concept. However, when asked about free will atheists are either irrational or dishonest. The irrational ones say that free will is an illusion. The dishonest ones say that free will is an emergent property of the brain. This is dishonest because emergence is a scientific concept. The properties of water emerge from the properties of hydrogen and oxygen. That we have free will is a metaphysical mystery, not a scientific mystery.
The human soul is most certainly not immortal. Read the Apostles Creed. When we die we are dead. At the end of time, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. We can hope for perfect fulfillment based on human experience because God has revealed to us that we will be raised up.
So how do you explain St. Paul’s words: “If Christ be not risen from the dead then our faith is vain”.
Your proposal that heaven is here and now on this earth for believers, and that all ends forever with death was the error of the Sadducees in Our Lord’s day. They didn’t believe in eternal life either, poor souls. For them, God rewarded the believer with power and wealth in this world because there was no life beyond our earthly existence. In their pride of mind they couldn’t raise their faith above the dust of the earth.
You think God can’t raise the dead to life? The Gospels prove otherwise. When a person dies the immortal soul leaves the body and goes to God, from whence it came, for personal judgment. At the end of time the dead will be raised from the grave and their souls reunited to their bodies. Then will come the general judgment at which the just will enter into glory everlasting and the damned into eternal damnation. This is the Christian faith. Do you accept it or reject it? It really does boil down to that simple question.
You are obviously suffering from cognitive dissonance. You believe in life after death, by are stressed out by all the educated people who think life ends in the grave. You make yourself feel better by being irrational. It is irrational to read one sentence in a paragraph, but not the rest of the paragraph. You read the first sentence in the paragraph: “The human soul is certainly not immortal,” but did not read the next three sentences. You owe me an apology because you are accusing me of not believing in the Apostles Creed.
You accuse Athanasius of being irrational, but – you heard/read it here first – I have never EVER encountered anyone quite as irrational as your good self. Here’s the four sentences which you think exonerate you from heresy:
“The human soul is most certainly not immortal. Read the Apostles Creed. When we die we are dead. At the end of time, Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.”
Well, there’s nothing in the Apostles Creed to justify your claim that “the human soul is most certainly not immortal”…
Take this article of Faith from the Apostles Creed, for example:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints…
So, like it or lump it, essential Christian teaching about the immortality of the soul is binding on us all. Do you REALLY believe that Our Lord is coming to judge dead souls at the end of time? What on EARTH (so to speak) would be the point of that?
PS “all the educated people who think life ends in the grave”? “Educated”? Sez who?
That single sentence “The human soul is certainly not immortal” said everything that needed saying about you. I do not owe you an apology but I do owe my mind a rest from your strange beliefs and religious riddles.
I have been fairly indulgent with you thoughout, but now it is clear that you are not a person attached to the eternal truths handed down. Rather, you are your own god who twists religious truth to suit your inclinations and bent of mind. Therefore, this exchange is at an end. This is an educational blog for Catholics, not a vehicle for the peddlers of heresy.
There is nothing in the Apostles Creed about the immortality of the soul. There is only Second Coming of Jesus and perfect fulfillment when we are risen from the dead:
“He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”
You are sadly impoverished in your understanding of Christian theology – not every dogma of the Faith is literally spelt out in every church statement, whether in Scripture or in the Creeds. The article of Faith on “belief in the Catholic Church….” implies acceptance of the God-given authority of the Catholic Church to teach in the name of Christ. Implies acceptance of all that the Church teaches. And Christ told his first pope and bishops, remember, that when He had gone, He would send the Paraclete to remind them of all that He had taught them…
That’s why Protestant belief in absolute literal interpretation of the bible and the twin belief that the “bible alone” is necessary for salvation, is a heresy. As St John tells us in his Gospel: if everything that Jesus said and did were written down, the world itself would not be able to contain all the books that would need to be written.
When Christ comes at the end of time, he will, of course, judge the living and those who have died – but he is judging SOULS which are (obviously) immortal. The Catholic Church has made this clear in her teaching from the beginning – for example, in the Apostles Creed!
The same Catholic Church of the Apostles Creed, recall, teaches that our immortal souls are judged individually at our death, and then again at the General Judgement at the end of time.
David, this is all very basic stuff, but you simply refuse to see it. So, as Athanasius has said above, there’s really nothing we can do to help you and we do not give platforms to those of different religious persuasions to promote their cause(s) so I suggest that you study the Baltimore Catechism, in a spirit of prayer and seeking understanding, because there’s not a lot more any of us can say to help you grasp the essential Christian doctrine of the immortality of the soul. You appear to think that “I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church” simply means, “I believe that it exists but don’t adhere to its teachings.” Won’t do, David. Will not do.
The immortality of the soul is there in the article of faith “Resurrection of the body” because the body is to return to be re-united to the soul. The body is corruptible at death, the soul is not. Something spiritual cannot die, as is pointed out in this extract from the conversion story of an atheist:
What is Death?
In order to get where we need to go, we first have to define death. CCC 997 defines it as, “… the separation of the soul from the body”—an excellent definition. But perhaps a more precise philosophical definition is: “The reduction of a composite being into its component parts.” This is why I would say when Fido dies, you might want to get him out of the house and bury him. It won’t take long for him to start the process to becoming “reduced to his component parts.” And that process gets a bit messy!
However, a spirit, by definition, has no parts. There is nothing to be “reduced to its component parts.” Thus, that which is purely spiritual cannot die.
So for my first four proofs for the immortality of the soul, I am going to demonstrate it by showing the soul to be “spiritual” in nature. If I can do this, I will have accomplished the task at hand.
For my fifth, sixth, and seventh proofs, I will make my appeal through what we find in human experience down through the millennia that points us in the direction of man possessing an immortal soul.
I hope this helps you understand that the immortality of the soul is a necessary Christian belief. If the soul dies, then there is no eternal life!
I suggest that you get someone to monitor this exchange we are having about what the Catholic Church teaches. I am aware of the theological speculation about the human soul surviving death. In this day and age, this speculation is very harmful because most people don’t understand the concept of the human soul and why the human soul is spiritual. One of us is a heretic. What makes you a heretic is that you are insisting the Catholic Church teaches that the human soul survives death. What makes me a heretic is that I am saying the Catholic Church teaches no such thing.
David, there is no need to ask anyone to “monitor” this exchange. You are in total error. Here is the relevant chapter from the Catechism of the Council of Trent explaining the infallibly binding teaching of the Catholic Church on the immortality of the soul. Authoritative Catholic teaching is detailed in that chapter, so that should settle the matter for you.
To spell it out further, you write:
What makes you a heretic is that you are insisting the Catholic Church teaches that the human soul survives death.
I reply: it is not heretical to insist that the Catholic Church teaches that the soul survives death (i.e. is immortal) because that is what the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches, with detailed documentary evidence for the authenticity of that teaching….
You then write:
What makes me a heretic is that I am saying the Catholic Church teaches no such thing.
Well, very clearly, you are wrong. It IS heretical to claim the opposite to what the Church teaches. The soul IS immortal – never dies. End of discussion.
As a non-Catholic, you seem to be choosing to reject that essential article of Faith, and if you continue to reject it after reading the above chapter from Trent, then you leave me no choice but to ask you to resist the temptation to blog here. We simply do not have the time for pointless and fruitless exchanges on such an elementary matter of Catholic theology and faith.
To the Editor:
In my request for a moderator, I state that I am aware of the theological speculation that the human soul is eternal. And I said that people who say this, hear it, or read it don’t understand the concept of the human soul and don’t understand what is meant by the “resurrection of the body” in the Apostles’ Creed. lnstead of discussing what the human soul is and what the Catholic Church teaches, you keep repeating yourself. If you don’t assign a moderator, I’ll be asking Cardinal Cushley to monitor our exchanges.
Editor: look David, you haven’t got a clue about how the Church operates: there is no authority on this earth which can overturn the teachings set out in the Catechism of the Council of Trent but sure thing, you get Cardinal Cushley to monitor these exchanges – good luck with that.
From what you’ve written you do not even know what a heretic is let alone what the Catholic faith entails, I’m sorry to say. You certainly do not understand Thomistic metaphysics or else you wouldn’t continue to say that “God does not have a divine essence” when God’s Essence is infinite. Perhaps, Mr. Roemer, St. Thomas Aquinas was just wrong all along and you are much smarter. God’s Essence is unknowable as is His Esse. None of these constructs captures fully what God is. They only allow us to determine certain truths about God in such a way that our limited minds can comprehend.
Your writing is erratic and often doesn’t make sense. I sincerely hope that if you do have a medical condition that you are able to get help. And if it’s a condition of the soul, I offer prayers for you. If you are searching for the truth, then just ask sincerely and someone will answer you and point you in the direction where you can find it.
My letter to Cardinal Cushley did not accuse the Catholic Truth of Scotland of heresy. I simply said you are mistaken about what the Church teaches. However, If Cardinal Cushley does not act, I will accuse him of slandering the Catholic Church because he is aiding and abetting the Catholic Truth of Scotland’s dissemination of misinformation about the Catholic faith. What follows is a quote from a prominent Catholic physicist who has been honored by Pope Benedict XVI:
However, having started with the empirically quite unsupported postulate of atheism, the materialists is practically forced to call a variety of empirical facts “illusions”—not facts that are in front of his eyes, but are behind his eyes, so to speak, facts about his own mind….None of this is to deny that there are some very hard questions that arise from the idea that the human mind is not entirely reducible to matter. There certainly are. For instance, if there is something immaterial about the mind, how does it affect the brain and body? (Stephen M. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, 2003, location 4612)
My guess is that Stephen Barr agrees with the Catholic Truth of Scotland’s idea that the “human soul” is immortal. Stephen Barr is just expressing his mistaken ideas about metaphysics. However, the Catholic Truth of Scotland is saying that Catholics must believe this nonsense.
What a great burden it must be for you to be enlightened above all the Doctors of the Church, all the saints and the Popes and all the Catholics of 2000 years, to be the only man on earth to have the theological insights you have, insights denied to all other human beings. To find yourself so unique in your grasp of theology, even without training, that you think it likely that you may have to upbraid Cardinals for their blindness. Yes, terrible burden for you.
Have you tried an aspirin?
“aspirin” – LOL!
I thought of a simpler theological question that you two comedians might be able grasp. According to the Apostles Creed Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary.” There are three theological interpretations of this:
1) You can’t assume anything natural about the birth of Jesus.
2) Mary never had sexual intercourse.
3) Not only did Mary not have sexual intercourse, the infant Jesus emerged from her womb miraculously without going through the birth canal.
Do you think it is okay for the Catholic Truth of Scotland to insist that the Church teaches # 2 or # 3?
Catholics do not enter into discussion on the base medical details of how the infant Jesus entered into the world, we simply take it on Faith that He was born of the Virgin Mary whose virginity remained in tact throughout the process of conception and birth.
Your difficulty with these mysteries is fundamentally down to the fact that you do not possess the divine gift of faith. I feel sorry for you, I really do.
Caveat! The faithful contributers on this site have a deep and enduring love for our Lady, the Blessed Mother Mary ever virgin. It appears to me that, if you were given any kind of Catholic education at all you must of fallen asleep during the entire semester. I will just pray for you to be enlightened by the gift of faith.
I’m in a conflict with the editor of the Catholic Truth of Scotland about a theological interpretation of the Apostles’ Creed. I’v attached the pdf file on the blog where the discussion is taking place. On the last page, the editor wishes me luck in getting you involved in the conflict.
My interpretation is that Jesus will come again at the end of time and judge the living and the dead. We are not guaranteed salvation, but can hope for perfect fulfillment. This perfect fulfillment is based on our human experiences. One of our human experiences is our interaction with other human beings. God gives us bodies precisely so that we can interact with other human beings.
The editor of the Catholic Truth is insisting that the Church teaches that the “human soul” is immortal and survives our death. I consider this bad theology and is the reason so many Christians think the arguments for God’s existence based on unanswered scientific questions make sense. I attempt to explain this at
The Catholic Church in America, I am sorry to say, is suppressing my attempts to explain the rational argument for God’s existence.I’v attached the lesson plan I wanted to use. My correspondence about this matter is here:
Columbia University declined my offer to give a lecture/lesson on God’s existence in a manner that violated my constitutional rights. I filed a lawsuit that is pending in the courts of the United States (docket no. 17-0818, Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals):
Respectfully yours in Christ,
Maybe we should get a moderator to oversee this exchange with David. I suggest a psychiatrist!
Posted to the cardinal’s waste paper bin.
Thank you editor for your faithful witness of Catholic truth.
Thank you Editor for your faithful witness to Catholic truth. It is quite frustrating when the most basic Catholic truths are unremittingly question by those who have no desire to learn anything but ultimately wish to argue and dissent against the doctrines of the Church to the bitter end.
Thank you for your kind words, much appreciated, although wholly undeserved.
And that’s no false humility, believe me. I wasn’t doing much “witnessing to Catholic truth” this evening, when I was battling with the website; took me a long time to overcome a glitch and, believe me, I “handed in my resignation” several times in the last hour or two, addressing everyone I could think of “up there”, and, shockingly, doing so in the most IMpolite terms.
So, it was nice (if mortifying) to read your generous praise.
Keep it coming (I’m not that humble!) 😀 Or, put another way…
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