Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Evolving Beyond Darwin & Luther

Before I started this series, I was going to mention that it would probably only offend two groups, Catholics and Protestants -- the former because of how badly they blew it, the latter because of all the bad that was ushered in with the good they accomplished. But I see that Warren and Susannah have already called a preemptive truce, so that's a relief.

As we go along, readers might feel as if I'm being harder on one side than the other. But please suspend judgment until we're done, because I'm certain that everyone will have a chance to be equally offended. The ultimate purpose of this series will be to heal that painful split once and for all (obviously in theory -- I'm not that grandiose), but some disassembly will be required. However, there's no need to disassemble one another.

It's really rather fascinating, because it immediately brings up all of the original passions that provoked the schism to begin with. Except that 500 years of the civilizing process has made us much less prone to kill one another over doctrinal matters and metaphysical disputes.

Which, now that I think about it, is an interesting subject in itself, and one that I attempted to tackle in chapter 3 of my book. That is, either in conjunction with, or in opposition to it, there is an autonomous "civilizing process" that must be taken into consideration. In other words, people can obviously be quite passionately religious, but uncivilized to the point of monstrous savagery. The Islamists are only the latest example, but again, when you read about what Catholics and Protestants did to one another during the religious wars, you wonder how Western man ever evolved out of that barbarism (those who did, anyway).

I also happen to be reading Gilson's From Aristotle to Darwin & Back Again: A Journey in Final Causality, Species and Evolution, which I'm unconsciously weaving and blending into this patchwork stew. For Gilson -- who was a Catholic philosopher -- brings to light the extreme irony that Protestantism and Darwinism are quite directly linked, for they are really just two competing versions of modernity -- a modernity which is already intellectually exhausted.

For as Cardinal Schönberg explains in the foreword to the book, Darwin's theory "adopts a purely nominalistic doctrine that views living things as nothing but accidental variations within a continuous fitness landscape and admits of no natural kinds." In other words, with the death of transcendental realism and the triumph of nominalism came an end to any notion of transcendent archetypes. Remember, the fulcrum of Luther's rebellion was over this very point. The rest is just commentary -- or the drawing out of the ineluctable consequences that follow.

I'm sure this isn't very clear to most readers, but don't worry, it will be before we're finished with this series of posts. But one of the most important consequences that follows the banishment of universals is the end of formal and final causation. If there are no transcendent archetypes -- which there cannot be under nominalism -- then there can be no formal and final causation, since they limit God's absolute omnipotence.

So this is just one of the -- in my mind -- bad things that was ushered in with the good of the nominalist revolution. The problem is that formal and final causation most assuredly exist, and that the world becomes literally unintelligible in their absence. Scientism only pretends to do without them.

But Luther had no interest whatsoever in whether or not the world was intelligible. Rather, his only concern was man's salvation, in part because he was convinced that he was living in the End Times, so that understanding the world was just a vain distraction. Furthermore, it was the height of prideful arrogance to imagine that humans could understand God's creation, again, because God is radically transcendent and omnipotent, and subject to no man's understanding (outside revelation), which amounts to a restriction on God's activity. Again, if God can do whatever he wants whenever he wants, who is the scientist to think that he can place limits on Him with his equations and instruments?

Note that of the four types of causation -- material, efficient, formal and final -- the first two are wholly immanent, or horizontal, while the second two are transcendent, or vertical. Here again you see that the nominalist revolution, by banishing formal and final causation, set the stage for the wholly immanent philosophy of ideological Darwinism, or just of materialism in general.

For materialism is one of the possible philosophical reactions to a senseless world devoid of formal or final causation. Literal creationism is another. The irony is again that Darwinism and creationism are not "opposites," but kissing cousins, just two possible responses to the modern rejection of the transcendentals that make the world intelligible.

Gilson brings out another fascinating irony -- and something that I've discussed in the past -- and that is that Darwinism is not only "anti-evolutionary," but that it renders evolution strictly impossible. The concept of evolution was around long prior to Darwin, and in fact, he didn't even mention the word in the first five editions of The Origin of Species. But Darwinians eventually hijacked and redefined the word, identical to how illiberal neo-Marxists hijacked and redefined "liberal."

The original meaning of the term "evolution" had to do with intelligible development -- for example, the manner in which the seed develops into the tree. Somehow the tree is "involved" in the seed, and the seed "evolves" into the tree. Thus, one could not speak of evolution without bringing in formal and final causation.

But this is the exact opposite of what Darwin believed. As Gilson explains, "Nothing is less like Darwin's doctrine than the idea that new species should be already present in their ancestors, from which they only have to evolve in the course of time." Therefore, Darwinian change does not disclose anything intelligible at all, for it is completely horizontal, just one meaningless change after another.

As Gilson correctly notes, "The human mind can grasp only that which is intelligible." Thus, "the meaning of absolutely directionless, meaningless, purposeless Darwinian change cannot really be grasped -- there is no meaning in such an alleged process, and thus no intelligibility." In the absence of an ordered framework -- which immediately implies transcendence and finality -- "pure chance or disorder is not something the mind can really know."

This is precisely what I mean when I say that man can explain much more about Darwinism than Darwinism can explain about man, for to even say the word "truth" is to have transcended the meaninglessness of Darwinian change (not evolution).

Again, as I have posted about before, actual evolution -- as opposed to meaningless change -- is only possible within a religious framework, but only then within a framework that restores formal and final causation, and undoes the nominalist revolution that ushered in modernity. This revolution -- and I'll get more deeply into this tomorrow -- virtually destroyed the religious intellect (emphasizing instead only faith), leaving the field open to the vulgar scientism that dominates culture today.

As Schönberg describes it, "the world is full of people who believe in God, but is almost bereft of people who believe in the full power of human reason." But Pope Benedict has called for an end to this "self-limitation of reason" and for a "rebirth of philosophy" that would vault man back to where he properly belongs, beyond the artificial constraints of a nominalistic scientism through which man has perfected crawling while forgetting how to fly.


Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Pope Benedict -- in whose presence I was (within about 15 feet) before Christmas -- seems to me a deeply wise man from what I've come to know about him. Why then the heartbreaking news that the Pope has endorsed and encouraged a binding global agreement on "climate change"? How can he not see through the luciferic "progressivism" that has always been the antithesis of Christianity?

One thing I did learn while in Rome is that papal infallibility is a technical doctrine (ex cathedra). I believe it has only been invoked once, with respect to the Virgin. Benedict certainly isn't infallible with respect to "climate change", unless he knows something we don't.

1/13/2010 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm sure it follows from the very conservative idea that human beings are conservators of the earth, something we can all endorse, even if we differ on the means.

1/13/2010 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Absolutely. I've always been strongly in favor on conservation. My father was a true conservationist who helped preserve forest and wetlands, but didn't have a socialist bone in his body.

I have no doubt the Pope's motives are 100% sound. I'm dismayed that he apparently fails to see that the "climate change" phenomenon is about anything BUT conserving the environment.

1/13/2010 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

I've known a few Haitians over the years. A tragic but noble people. My prayers go out to them. Just when things were starting to turn around for them a bit under Préval this happens. Terrible.

Note that a quake of similar magnitude hit Cali recently with zero casualties and little property damage.

1/13/2010 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

In situations like this, and this may run contrary to this post which I fully support, I try to picture what it would be like had people like the Pope or Unknown Friend not taken such positions. In MOTT, UF makes his feelings clear about the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war; basically that they were a terrible mistake. I try to picture him making an opposite statement and I do not prefer it. I’m not entirely sure why I feel this way. Maybe it has to do with the fact that when they speak, I have to consider that the whole world will be hearing it. Milk first, meat later.

1/13/2010 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> the fulcrum of Luther's rebellion was over this very point [transcendent archetypes].

Yes, the whole thing was/is fundamentally a revolt against Plato and Aristotle, whose philosophies still ground Catholic theology.

And, in the spirit of ecumenism, I should underline the fact that nominalism arose entirely within the Catholic Church. Can't blame nobody else for it.

1/13/2010 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Ricky --

Which is sort of why I added "unless he knows something we don't". Well, of course he knows a lot I don't. I definitely feel uncomfortable second-guessing him, almost as much as it feels uncomfortable watching the leftists at places like seize upon this as vindication of their monstrous ideology.

Certainly you're right about the Pope taking the long view. In general he's resisted the "liberalization" we saw in the last century.

1/13/2010 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the meaning of absolutely directionless, meaningless, purposeless Darwinian change cannot really be grasped...

Not by you, evidently. We don't all have your limitations.

Evolution by natural selection has some deeply counterintuitive aspects, to be sure. But as scientific theories go, it's one of the easier ones to grasp (compared with quantum physics, for instance). Some people's egos are too fragile to deal with it, that's all.

1/13/2010 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> Darwinism and creationism are not "opposites," but kissing cousins

If you mean (as I think you do) "literalistic, Biblical creationism" here, then I would agree.

This is why the fight between these two groups is so extremely ugly. Family fights are always the nastiest.

1/13/2010 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Frank said...

The Vatican movie reviewer with regards to the film "Avatar"'s environmental theme:

"Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship."

1/13/2010 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


Yes, precisely. Among other things, literalism tossed out 1500 years of sublime wisdom over the allegorical and mystical meaning of Genesis.

1/13/2010 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...


You're conflating "understanding" and "meaning."

1/13/2010 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

literalism tossed out 1500 years of sublime wisdom

For years I was repelled by Christianity, not least because my points of contact happened to be primarily with fundamentalist sects. Catholicism -- which I had second-hand experience of since childhood -- never seemed to rankle nearly as much. Catholics just seemed more, what's the right word? -- more natural and human. They drank, smoked and occasionally cursed (I'm talking about the priests here) whereas the evangelical protestants I knew at the time came across as Stepford drones.

To be sure, I'm much more comfortable around my Pentecostal friends today, however I pretty much know now that my destiny lies with the Church.

1/13/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dupree: that's a good point actually. Understanding the scientific theory is easy enough, figuring out what it means is hard. But the response to that is not to deny the scientific theory or to assert that the meaning is ungraspable. That's giving up on reality.

Among the possible meanings: acknowledging that we are related to all other life forms on earth and can learn about ourselves by studying closely-related animals like primates. Acknowledging that we are in fact contingent beings who need to manufacture our own meanings rather than being handed them by outside forces. Or, you could say it excuses all kinds of selfishness. The moral lesson (if any) is not directly derivable from the scientific theory.

1/13/2010 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I'll just assume you've been educated beyond your intelligence and leave it at that.

1/13/2010 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Job said...

Kinda lost on this one in multiple areas.....
The point of the Reformation was to do away with the artificial construct created by the Catholic Church (The man selling the tickets to the free show )and this bringing man face to face with God (the believers priesthood - AKA the Order of Melchizedek) let in the evil twin brother, Darwinism??? Gods majesty and power lessened because any man can approach Him??? The Archetypes of God-driven values done away with because man could come to God based on his individual faith, not on anything he or anybody else said or did or how they lived their lives? Seems a bit like Sour Grapes from those losing their political power and meal ticket.
Believing that the world morphed over a few billion years not mentioned in the Bible does more to limit a limitless God then anything and is an acceptance of Darwinism at it's finest......
If the Word is not infallible, then there is a real limitation placed on God (like, uh,..Buh-Bye).
and finally, climate change.
In Revelation, this earth and the heavens will pass away, and God will create a new heaven and earth and a new Jerusalem. While we are stewards, we are also supposed to use and enjoy the earth. The very idea that man could destroy the earth (aka Global Warming) makes the Bible (and God as well) kinda pointless....(no stage, no play).
I will re-read and re-read......
Got some 'splainin to do to us lower-level non-horizontal self-help types, oh Grand Wazir of Verticality

1/13/2010 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Believe me, I cringed too when I read the headline. But I want to say, and I could have just imagined it, that his statement was worded something to the effect: if man is significantly causing the climate to change adversely…than we should yadda yadda…
I remember seeing something. If it was in fact similar to that, then I agree with him :-) Operative words: “if” and “significantly” and “adversely”.

1/13/2010 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Btw, next time you’re within 15 feet* of the him, be sure to ask, “what’s your email address!”

(*Appox. 5 meters)

1/13/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

By the by the way, every time you say “Vatican”, I think “Shroud”.
Did you get to see it? I forget if they changed the schedule. Used to come out of storage every 25 years…

1/13/2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...


Heh. There were dozens of people ahead of me in that 15 feet. Unfortunately we weren't among those selected to go up and actually meet him. We were incredibly lucky to get such an exclusive invitation though. We have a friend studying at the Vatican (Venerable English School) who in turn knows some insiders. Hence the tickets.

1/13/2010 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Fido said...

Anon 9:59 said:
“Among the possible meanings: acknowledging that we are related to all other life forms on earth and can learn about ourselves by studying closely-related animals like primates.”

I can assure you, everything I know about table manners, I picked up from the boss*.

(*not B. Springerstein)

1/13/2010 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dupree: Really? I thought this was just at the point where it might be an interesting discussion. Oh well.

1/13/2010 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Please. You wouldn't be here every day if you weren't interested.

1/13/2010 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

(Not to conflate interest and understanding.)

1/13/2010 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Job said...

Then there's the 2nd Book of Hezzekiah 4th Chapter, verse 25-28
...."And the Americanites went forth in their SUV's (New American transalation has "Large Trucks") and smote the planet, and the Goracle whined and bitched and the Progressivites seized congress and made laws forbading the driving, the heating and the breathing, and lo, they became rich and were glad..."
Seems kinda silly that God didn't foresee mankind destroying the earth using Global Warming...
musta forgot....
...guess He isn't omnipotent or something.....

1/13/2010 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...


You're not really in a position to have a discussion that would be interesting to anyone here. Most of us were more or less where you are now many years ago. Everything you could say would make perfect sense in the same way that my 6 year old niece makes perfect sense. She isn't "wrong", but she can't yet know what she doesn't know.

Like I said, everyone here had to work for years just to be able to listen in on B'observations without a-sploding. You aren't nearly ready. Nothing personal.

1/13/2010 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Job said...

anon 9:59

taken pretty much word for word from the movie "Avatar"

1/13/2010 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you understand by "absolute truth " ?

1/13/2010 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...


Don't know what Bob would say about it, but here's how I see it.

As you say, the Reformation was about breaking the Catholic Church's hold over the individual believer. Very understandably - the Church was in a very corrupt state in those days. But to deny the Church's authority, Luther (and others) thought they had to throw out the Church's whole theology and philosophy, which was/is mostly based on Plato and Aristotle. I don't think that the Reformers had to do that, BTW - I can imagine a Reformation that mostly kept the Church's philosophy (at least its natural law philosophy) the same. But they went ahead and scrapped it.

Problem is, when you throw out Plato and Aristotle, you throw out natural law, you throw out universals, you throw out final causes, etc.... you're left with no way, really, to make sense out of anything. You can no longer explain how even the simplest things happen in the world, because you've thrown out the explanations ahead of time. At that point, you have two choices: you can just say "God directly causes everything to happen by His power" (as the Reformers did and the Muslims do), or else you can say "everything just happens magically by itself - there is no God" (as the Darwinists do).

Those two solutions seem diametrically opposed, but they both spring from the same premise - namely, that things like Plato's transcendent archetypes and Aristotle's final causes don't exist (ie, nominalism).

Does that help, or only make it worse? :-)

1/13/2010 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


One of the subjects I'm going to get into is "the road not taken," one that could have easily combined the best of both worlds....

1/13/2010 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Warren, I think that's a very useful summation.

1/13/2010 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

As a life-long Protestant -- this life anyway -- I was dismissive of archetypes. Even after I first read Jung as a teenager, grasped some of the truth, and was swayed somewhat, I thought of it as, to quote Ollie North, "a neat idea". Horizontal pragmatism is pretty persuasive.

There was a period of time where I attended Catholic masses on a regular basis. I even taught Catholic special needs kids for their confirmation class. I was back on the road to transcendent Truth, anyway. Once I got on the road, I returned to my fire-breathing Pentecostal brethen, but I didn't forget where I'd been.

1/13/2010 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

"Nothing is less like Darwin's doctrine than the idea that new species should be already present in their ancestors, from which they only have to evolve in the course of time."

The Bible, by the way, states this explicitly. We were "in Adam" when he fell. See, also, Hebrews 7:10

1/13/2010 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Dizzy Dean said...

Anon says: Acknowledging that we are in fact contingent beings who need to manufacture our own meanings rather than being handed them by outside forces.


How's that working out for you, by the way?*

*rhetorical question

1/13/2010 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The irony is again that Darwinism and creationism are not "opposites," but kissing cousins, just two possible responses to the modern rejection of the transcendentals that make the world intelligible.

My, that's completely absurd. It takes a lot of trickery and gobbledygook to get someone to believe such a thing.

1/13/2010 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

"trickery and gobbledygook" a.k.a., "things I cannot comprehend".

1/13/2010 01:06:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Most of the trolls are perfectly intelligent men/women. Calling them "stupid" is just wrong (as it is with leftists). Arrogant and incurious is closer to the mark. That and a fundamental inability to think metaphysically, which is not the same as stupidity but rather a sort of inverted savant-ism.

We seem to be speaking different languages with anonymous. The best thing he/she could do is read the previous posts and/or the book. Some trolls may even have done this, and as with those in AA incapable of spiritual awakening, are constitutionally incapable of entering raccoon territory.

There have been a tiny handful of trolls -- maybe 2 -- over the years which have challenged Bob on a more or less level playing field. They were of course wholly unable to "disprove" the raccoon way (whatever that might entail) but at least one got a sense that they understood more or less where we were coming from here. Otherwise it's been 2D trolls all the way across.

1/13/2010 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Everywhere trolls are the same. Ironically, they're an archetype. Or howling barktype.

1/13/2010 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Hey, Taranto thanked Bob again at the bottom. What's up with that?

1/13/2010 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Pope steps in it once in awhile, but never like this creep.

1/13/2010 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"a fundamental inability to think metaphysically"

Unless I'm not following things very well, part of what's being discussed here is that secular-humanism is implicitly fundamentalism that expressly rejects metaphysical considerations. Which would mean that most trolls would have to give up their prevailing paradigm to grasp what's being said. A tall order.

1/13/2010 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I was incurious I'd hardly bother reading the stuff here, would I?

You seem to not be able to handle the idea that someone could understand what you are saying perfectly well, yet disagree with it.

Calling anyone who disagrees with you a "troll" and otherwise resorting to ad hominem attacks is a sign of mental dysfunction. It means you can't defend or even describe your beliefs under the mildest of critique. It doesn't say much for their value.

1/13/2010 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

True, Bob's ideas have no value. They are ends, not means.

1/13/2010 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Still, it is curious that you are so curious about things that are of no possible value to one as incurably incurious as you.

1/13/2010 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

In Pat's defense, it's pretty easy to miss the significance of the tower of siloam thing.

Still, you'd think he might have heard "there's none good but God". Oh, well.

1/13/2010 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

"resorting to ad hominem attacks is a sign of mental dysfunction"

This is the Klein Bottle of troll attacks.

1/13/2010 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the endless fruit loop! (Douglas Hofstadter used to collect those. Perhaps we should send it in.)

1/13/2010 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Would it feel any better if you were referred to as a kvetch?

1/13/2010 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

How about a schmendrick? I like schmendrick.

1/13/2010 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice try, Northern Bandit, but I believe that life slowly evolved and adapted over millions of years. My understanding of evolution has nothing, I repeat nothing, to do with creationist tales of making a woman out of a rib and a talking snake and a boat with all the animals on it and Jesus riding around on a triceratops and who-knows-what else creationists believe.

1/13/2010 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

If you want to join an honest discussion as a non-troll, step 1 would be to get a name, no? I can't tell one Anony from another, spending too many intervals away from OC as I do ('specially during homeschooling season) to detect the "nuances" in the varying stages of metaphysical atrophy. IOW, y'all all look the same... I just kinda skim the anonys. Step 2 would probably be to ask honest questions, not tell Bob how to run his blog...

1/13/2010 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Blue Light Special Being said...

Anon says: It means you can't defend or even describe your beliefs under the mildest of critique. It doesn't say much for their value.

To quote DD: Whoosh!

1/13/2010 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

The secret protects itself.
It may in fact be getting better at it.

1/13/2010 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob, your working for Toranto?

1/13/2010 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No, I just send in gags. Keeps the brain sharp. Sometimes he uses them, sometimes he doesn't.

1/13/2010 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For example, today he used the headline I sent in, but not the gag that came with it:

Friends don't abort friends:

Tila Tequila Talks About Her Abortion, Lack Of Friends

1/13/2010 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob as Schmendrick - now there's an amusing mental picture.

1/13/2010 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Jesus riding around on a triceratops

Damn! Anon is on to us! Is there any chance of removing the "Dinosaur Jesus" chapter from the next printing of OCUG?

1/13/2010 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, "the secret protects itself".

You all just ADORE answering legitimate questions/challenges with namecalling and "I know something you don't know."

Unimpressive, frankly.

1/13/2010 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

He prolly thinks you'll only charge him half.
I'd charge him double.

1/13/2010 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Northern Bandit: Jesus riding around on a triceratops is far more believable than much of the Bible, given that there is evidence that both Jesus and triceratops existed.

God? Noah's Ark? Talking snake? Not so much.

1/13/2010 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Another sample

Just be thankful it's not pooping:

Mystery object to whizz by Earth Wednesday

1/13/2010 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Who let the dogs out?

Woof, Woof-woof WOOF!

1/13/2010 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Job said...

All I know is this: I have been to many catholic churches (about 15) with friends who are Catholic and have yet to hear the Gospel of Christ preached. If not for the Gospel, what need have I (or any man)of any church?
1500 years of speculation about Genesis will not do it. Neither Plato, nor Aristotle (while not without value, even great value) will bring me to the saving grace of Christ, from whence OUR life and freedom are gained (when I am born unto Christ, everything is legal to me (no longer under ANY law), but not all things are good for me - and I can vouch for that), as is our TRUE verticality! Verticality, when gained through mans reason alone (while wonderful) still falls short of Christs sacrifice. To believe otherwise is folly.
Sometimes, it appears that Catholics want to believe Protestants are some weird alter ego of Catholicism with a centralized head and authority. It isn't, because the whole point of stripping away the artificial construct imposed by the 15th century Catholic church, was to free man to his OWN priesthood, as God intended it and scripture clearly states (one to a box on the way out). I question anyone placing knowledge of natural law and final causes ahead of the Gospel, because without it, all is dreck and western civilization means diddly squat. Saying that "evil" resulted from the freeing of the Gospel to mankind is in and of itself wrongheaded and just plain....stupid.
And at this point, I would like to announce that I have become my mother......

1/13/2010 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Susannah is right. Can't tell your anons apart without a program. Can't we tag 'em somehow or something?

There are the semi-serious ones, and then there are the people who got lost on their way from and have

No. Freakin. Clue.

What is going on here.

1/13/2010 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually think others have much more of a clue than you do. "True believers" in cults don't realize they're brainwashed.

1/13/2010 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Hey! I paid my $1.50 to join this cult so damn straight I'm a true believer. Gotta go do some chanting now. Ciao, troll!

1/13/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Anon 6:09,
I wasn't trying to impress you. I was stating a fact.
Questions from the insincere are tiresome.
Plus, it's an old joke around here.

1/13/2010 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...


>> I question anyone placing knowledge of natural law and final causes ahead of the Gospel

Who did that? Certainly not me. The Gospel completes and fulfils all the rest. Still, I think "all the rest" is important to correctly understand the Gospel.

>> Saying that "evil" resulted from the freeing of the Gospel to mankind is in and of itself wrongheaded and just plain....stupid.

I agree! I'm sure glad that I didn't say anything like that.

>> And at this point, I would like to announce that I have become my mother......

Hey, that happens to everyone sooner or later.... ;-)

1/13/2010 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> God? Noah's Ark? Talking snake? Not so much.

Damn - why didn't Thomas Aquinas think of stuff like that??? Christianity is clearly refuted by this unanswerable argument. I'm so embarrassed...

1/13/2010 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Why -- damn it -- it's medieval," I exclaimed; for I still had all the chronological snobbery of my period and used the names of earlier periods as terms of abuse." --C.S. Lewis

1/13/2010 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Word Indeed said...

Northern Bandit, may I humbly approach kind sir?

I have heard the stories, but I thought it was the stuff of legend. You apparently can verify firsthand. I see that once you get within fifteen feet of the Pope, suddenly you do indeed become Pontificator Maximus!

Capable of discernment without discernment, through solid walls (not including your own skull or ego)!

Able to pinpoint spiritual advancement to an accuracy level of plus or minus 3 lifetimes!

Instantly gifted with CoonVision®, the ability to generalize specifically about a variety of topics such as but not limited to metaphysical and/or political philosophy and the ties that bind, metaphysical and/or political philosophy and the lies that blind, metaphysical and/or political philosophy and the flies that land, ad nauseum.

You seem also to have enjoyed the Gold Hat Special, which entitles you to freely state opinion as fact, presupposing arguments in advance, providing of course that the arguee and/or the arguer is eddicated beyond his intelligence! Coongratulations Sir, and Please! As you were!

And say, anyone know where a chap can get a decent port in this dump? Ah! And a light... Now, Northern Carpetbomber, where were you? Do carry on!

1/13/2010 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Thanks for noticing my new overlord status, Word Indeed!

I got a free 2009 Popemobile-themed sno-globe along with the free hat. Your observations are pretty accurate, except I should note that my superpowers expire after six months or 100 bonehead trolls, whichever comes first.

1/13/2010 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Oh, and you're #17.

1/13/2010 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...


It always surprises me how a post can have a different impact from one 'coon to another. Yesterday's pretty much got a distracted head nod from me, yeah, hmmm... ok, sure... no real impact but, ok.

Today every paragraph landed with a punch and resonating Yeah!. I've got way too many quotes from this post to comment on, I'll pick the one I think is central,

"The problem is that formal and final causation most assuredly exist, and that the world becomes literally unintelligible in their absence. Scientism only pretends to do without them."

,and everything else, within the post, and within the development of modernity, is contained within or implied from that.

1/13/2010 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Here it is. I admit sympathy with Job's objections. I suppose I'd put it this way. Aristotle and Plato: yes, of great value. Wouldn't have turned to the classical method of education otherwise. But, as hubby would put it, should not the Raccoon's (& Protestant's & Catholic's, for that matter) first and highest interest be the pre-eminence of Christ? If we speak of "formal and final causation," well, how about the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end; the creative and final Word? If indeed "all things were created through him and for him" and "he is before all things, and in him all things hold together," then Plato, Aristotle et al. are of value inasmuch as they reveal the glories and truths of *his* Cosmos. I'm also somewhat sympathetic to Bob's critique of Protestantism as it currently stands. I'm extending BOTD toward the author's take on the Reformation until I read this series. Among Catholics, mainline denominations, and interdenominational/less formal church associations all, I am dismayed by the lack of rational thought or concern for the grounding principles of proper philosophy (yes, as divinely revealed through inerrant Scripture, without which each so easily "turns to his own way") displayed by Christians. Fellow pentecostals/charismatics often show very little concern for solid biblical theology, and no concern at all for developing a coherent, rational worldview on its basis. Yet, reformed circles often place little to no emphasis on the presence and power of the Spirit, reducing kingdom life something carried out exclusively inside one's skull--not to mention that overemphasis on radical transcendence Bob mentions. I'm bothered when I see feminism imported into the Church, or evangelicals toying around the edges of what is essentially liberation theology. True fundamentalists (in terms of its original meaning) would have none of us "fire-breathers," as mushroom calls it. ;) While I stop short of what I would define as "mysticism," (not sure how Bob defines it), I do believe that God's divine presence and His revelatory power is something the believer can indeed experience in the Now, and is not limited to the printed page. Hence, "taste and see" that the Lord is good, not merely "read the menu," which is not satisfying in the least, nor is it sufficient to sustain spiritual life. Catholic theology, to keep it brief, departs too far from NT teaching for comfort. All this to say that finding true like-minded fellowship is naturally quite difficult in this particular niche. Though I tend to be ecumenical, due to upbringing, there's always some point of disconnect wherever I turn. Finally, I think I need a definition of nominalism. Not as quick on the uptake as others here, I perceive. (Apologies for the unbroken text; will try to post on a computer with a working "enter" key next time.)

1/13/2010 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As I'll remind everyone again, we need to be patient and see how this series plays out. But I think a key principle will be complementarity. That and moderation.

1/13/2010 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For example, the religious wars could hardly have been more intemperate and disdainful of complementarity. I mean, if God is by definition transcendent, and immanent because transcendent, then we must acknowledge that nominalism and scholasticism are not necessarily antagonistic but complementary. Which is none other than "Word made flesh," universal made particular. But I don't want to get ahead of ourselves....

1/13/2010 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous word indeed said...

I move we apply the Catholic version of complementarity and moderation, esp. with regard to trolls.

1/13/2010 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Warren said "Yes, the whole thing was/is fundamentally a revolt against Plato and Aristotle, whose philosophies still ground Catholic theology."

Yeah... I believe Luther referred to Aristotle as 'lice and vermin'... no offense intended, but as with Darwin, it but kinda told me much more about Luther, than Aristotle.

1/13/2010 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

word: I note you are still short on questions and long on telling Bob how to run his blog.

1/13/2010 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. the complementarity, yes, exactly. That's why the egg was such a good metaphor. In a sense the schism happened when what should have been complementary and therefore harmonious was viewed as antagonistic. At least, that's how I understand it thus far.

Kind of like if two sides of the same arch decided to start throwing their stones at each other for the crime of curving the wrong direction.

Susannah - the Wiki on nominalism may be helpful. My own grasp is still pretty nebulous; I get it, but not in any way I could explain.

1/13/2010 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous word indeed said...

Oh Susannah, don't you cry for either me or Bob. His blog is in no danger of being redirected by me. It's something I live with.

1/13/2010 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I wouldn't worry about nominalism.
It's just a name. It doesn't exist.

1/13/2010 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Susannah (at 4:26),
The daughters of Dame Edith have nowhere to lay their heads.

(Bob, send me a bill.)

1/13/2010 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "...riding around on a triceratops is far more believable than much of the Bible, given that there is evidence that both Jesus and triceratops existed.
God? Noah's Ark? Talking snake? Not so much."

Kissing cousins? I'm thinkaninnying that one of those cousins family tree is a bit more aspenish than the other.

1/13/2010 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Susannah, I meant fire-breathers in the best possible sense -- like fire-baptized, blood-bought, Holy Ghost-filled, et al. Of which I am one in pretty good standing -- and now you why I use a pseudonym. All my best friends are Assembly of God preachers.

1/13/2010 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

... except for the drunks and hookers.

1/13/2010 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...


I think that I agree with almost everything you said. Which I guess either makes me a crypto-Prot, or you a crypto-Papist, or both. :-)

The single thing I disagreed with was this:

>> Catholic theology, to keep it brief, departs too far from NT teaching for comfort.

I have personally found, again and again, that it is only Catholic / Orthodox doctrine that takes ALL of Scripture seriously, rather than just a handful of favorite cherry-picked verses. That's my own experience, FWIW. It is true, of course, that they also add in the element of sacred oral tradition - which probably accounts for most or all of the things you object to.

1/13/2010 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I'm right there with ya, mushroom. I loved the descriptor & embrace it! Warren, you may be right. My exposure to Catholicism is through the (very) occasional mass, reading, and talks by folks like Peter Kreeft, etc.

1/13/2010 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

And beyond that, being married to a "full-gospel" (that's for mushroom :) ) systematic theologian, I tend to trust his understanding of scripture.

1/13/2010 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Julie, I think I'm at about inkling status now, thanks to the Wiki. :)

1/13/2010 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

NB: Some of the best conservators are hunters and fishermen, I've found...

1/13/2010 07:16:00 PM  
Anonymous word indeed said...

"Some of the best conservators are hunters and fishermen..."

Yes and don't forget the OC Faithful when you're trash talkin' talking trash about Job One: to consume as much as we possibly can because it's our Divine Right, By Gawd! Dang Greenie Weenies! Lord knows me and my homies pretty much hang here just for the stewardship of the earth tips. That and the travel section.

Come to think of it, there's a good nominalist for you: loves the cushy, spacious ride but doesn't believe in the cost of it.

wv: snesterl. I thought we'd decided on schmendrick.

1/13/2010 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

"to consume as much as we possibly can because it's our Divine Right"

Close, but way off.
More like, "to consume as much as I decide, not what you decide for me, because it's my Divine Right."

You're not the boss of me, get it?

1/13/2010 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Uh, me said...

Let the revisin' begin! Okay, here's the first 'o them scriptures that's got to go. Jes cross it off outta yer good book. Don't even read em, they'll jes make ya mad. God ain't fair??? What the heck was Paul thinkin'? Sheesh.

"So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory."

What the...?

That's Romans 9:18-23. Unbeeleevable.
On second thought, maybe that whole dang chapters gotta go.

See ya'll coons fer now. Keep yer magic markers ready. I'll be back with more ...scriptures what's gotta go! (cus I don't like 'em)

1/13/2010 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

As the resident non-aligned Raccoon, let me take a midnight whack at this, without getting into the theological angle, other than to say if you've got the connection, then that part is already working for you, chalk it up to Grace, and probably no need to worry about, compare or justify that end of it any further.

But apart from that connection (or maybe in addition to that connection) if your philosophical concepts are formed literalistically, that tends towards a 1D or 2D view of concepts, words and definitions - that while words and what they refer to are routinely used together, they don't have any real tie to reality - they are only nominally related.

Nominalism is another way of insisting on one half of the subjective/objective issue, instead of a synthesis of both, and you wind up with the many, in place of the One.

Well. That's a nice shade of mud. Let me try again.

Nominalism comes from the idea that reality, or those various separate things we come into contact with and call (for convenience sake) 'reality', exists 'out there' and we only arbitrarily assign the words and concepts we have with those things we've become familiar with, in order to keep track of them... after all, we don't really know reality... it being 'out there', and we being 'in here'.

The Natural Law issue comes into question from the view that if things aren't really related (and we couldn't really know it if they were), then there is no common nature that could be known or counted on to apply to all people - and so right and wrong are only what King James said God said... and of course that's only if you believe in Religion... if you don't... well... pick one set of rules or another, doesn't matter which... or forget about it and anything goes.

The stereotypical way this view is associated with Protestantism, follows from the literalistic pattern of viewing the world, such as 'The Bible was obviously written in English, and if it says that the snake spoke to Eve, then it actually spoke (probably with a french accent) and that's that - the snake talked, no other interpretation or meaning to be found, King James wrote it, I believe it, and that's that' .

That pattern of viewing the world, extended philosophically, doesn't lead to a deeply integrated worldview, which lines up well with nominalism. It doesn't take too much thinking in those grooves to reach the idea that what we think is true 'in here' has nothing to actually do with reality; and as philosophy professors get a hold of those notions, we get even more and more separated from reality, and it's not long before causality gets misplaced, ala David Hume, and you begin to wonder why we should ever have thought that we could know that one billiard ball striking another, would cause the other to move. After all, we can't see causality, and our ideas couldn't have any real relation to reality beyond the different pieces of it that we can see - things just happen, we get used to it, and expect it... but our 'knowledge' of it, is just happenstance.

Soon after that we get lectures on things like the necessary vs contingent, that circles have to be round simply because we couldn't imagine it any other way, but ice, you could imagine ice burning, or sinking in water, so that's just a contingent truth (nothing to do with the true nature of Ice of course, we've no way of truly knowing that after all)... check back in a century or two and see if your culture still exists.

(looks outside)

Still there... but just barely.

Of course if you do have a sense of the cosmos as being One, then by implication you're accustomed to Universals, and the nominalist view isn't likely to get its hooks too deeply in you, if at all...( but it's on the look out for you).

1/13/2010 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ooh... I saw the wiki... quite the mind bender. For another view unaffiliated with the Protestant/Catholic question (to put it mildly(!)), here's some Ayn Rand Objectivism,which if nothing else, reads in plain English:

"The “nominalists” . . . hold that all our ideas are only images of concretes, and that abstractions are merely “names” which we give to arbitrary groupings of concretes on the basis of vague resemblances . . . . (There is also the extreme nominalist position, the modern one, which consists of declaring that the problem [of universals] is a meaningless issue, that “reality” is a meaningless term, that we can never know whether our concepts correspond to anything or not, that our knowledge consists of words—and that words are an arbitrary social convention.)"

"On the nominalist view, the process of defining a concept is a process of cutting the concept off from its referents, and of systematically evading what one knows about their characteristics. Definition, the very tool which is designed to promote conceptual integration, becomes an agent of its destruction, a means of disintegration."

"Denying that concepts have an objective basis in the facts of reality, nominalists declare that the source of concepts is a subjective human decision: men arbitrarily select certain characteristics to serve as the basis (the “essentials”) for a classification; thereafter, they agree to apply the same term to any concretes that happen to exhibit these “essentials,” no matter how diverse these concretes are in other respects. On this view, the concept (the term) means only those characteristics initially decreed to be “essential.” The other characteristics of the subsumed concretes bear no necessary connection to the “essential” characteristics, and are excluded from the concept’s meaning."

1/13/2010 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Just one fer-instance, word, out of many possible examples...

1/13/2010 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

... but... of course one person's view of 'plain english' might differ from anothers view....

1/13/2010 10:28:00 PM  
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1/14/2010 02:12:00 AM  
Anonymous WIlly Wonka said...

Attention: Don't touch that squirrel's nuts.

1/14/2010 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Hm. That squirrel gets around; he left a dropping at my place, plus a couple more in my email inbox. Weird.

1/14/2010 04:01:00 AM  
Anonymous word indeed said...

More like, "to consume as much as I decide, not what you decide for me, because it's my Divine Right."

You're not the boss of me, get it?

You're snarling to the gaze, brutha!. I think one Umar Abdulmutallab is busy making this very same point to his father, his state-supplied doctors & lawyers, and whomever else will listen. One's appetite is one's own damn business! You're not the boss of me! Amen an' pass the nails. Enough of this slow motion nonsense.

1/14/2010 04:03:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Sorry. I don't get it. What's your point?

1/14/2010 04:17:00 AM  
Anonymous word indeed said...

You're not the boss of me is a belief system. Live with it, die by it, but apply it whimsically if the shoe bomb fits? Uh...

Have at it. I'll wait here.

1/14/2010 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

There is only one boss of me.
And he's not you.

Have at it.

1/14/2010 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

NB et al, as for 'climate change', our EP (the most respected of the patriarchs) dear Bartholomew, has also endorsed something similar. I think, however, that if these men knew what corruption ran through certain circles, they might phrase things differently.

Or it is possible that what they really want to say would be very uncomfortable, such as something like:

"Forget what the environmentalists and greens are saying. If you want to truly conserve the earth you will need to lower your standard of living."

Environmentalists and Greens are the flip side of the coin to the Consumerists (those who exploit the earth ruthlessly) - they are both shameless populists who believe the people to be sheep to be manipulated into supporting their goals so that they can accrue power or wealth.

The split between the two - basically the hippies and the yuppies if you will - is merely a family feud. The hyper-ambitious and ruthless businessman may have a brother who is a radical environmentalist. Both see all humans other than themselves as a problem to be solved. One as a resource to be exploited, the other a virus to be removed. But they both agree on a more fundamental and important thing: Persons aren't so important.

Oh, and they both probably reject formal and final causes. Moderns is as moderns duz.

1/14/2010 05:19:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

By the way, how poisonous a book is 'Candide'? He uses Pangloss to mock final causes (i.e. our noses are sloped to fit eyeglasses) -- I can't help but think it is a great contributor to people's rejection of final causes.

1/14/2010 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Please tell me you don't consider me in the Consumerists camp.
If any camp, I'm in the anti-tyrany one.

1/14/2010 05:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Really old Chinese philosopher said...

" . . . Voegelin believed that Western civilization took a wrong turn under those damnable Gnostics. Gnostics are small furry creatures with opposable thumbs and who tend to get into your garbage cans. Oh, wait. Sorry. Those are raccoons (whom Cosmo considers to be Gnostics — very long story there). . . ~Jonah Goldberg

Gagdad Bob said...

As I'll remind everyone again, we need to be patient and see how this series plays out. But I think a key principle will be complementarity. That and moderation.

Ah so. An oldie but a goldie: Do you have the patience to wait?

Mizz E

1/14/2010 05:36:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

For the record, kvetch, and I believe schmendrick were meant to refer to the current incarnation of flat-earthism that was dominating the discussion at the moment, not to Bob.

And for anyone whose knowledge of Yiddish is limited, like mine, schmendrick seems to be translated as "a nobody" from what I can tell based on a longer-than-anticipated internet search.

1/14/2010 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "By the way, how poisonous a book is 'Candide'?...I can't help but think it is a great contributor to people's rejection of final causes."

Yep on that... for all Voltairs's good points (like his smackdowns of Rousseau), Candide wasn't one of them. An excellent antidote to it is Dr. Johnson's "The History of Rasselas Prince of Abissinia", it has a similar plot as Candide, about the same short length, even published in the same year, 1759, but as told by someone of much more skill and "moral seriousness" - and has the added benefit of actually being enjoyable to read... which also means that the wackademic's who'd put it on a college reading list are few and far between.

Theodore Dalrymple had this to say about the two, in his essay What Makes Doctor Johnson Great?

"Voltaire’s Candide, which has always had more renown than Johnson’s Rasselas, is nevertheless far the more superficial work, its irony crude and shallow compared with that of Rasselas. The surface similarities of the stories only underline their difference in depth. The one, Candide, attacks a philosophical doctrine; the other, Rasselas, addresses a human condition that is with us still. Portraits of the two authors reveal the difference in their character: Voltaire looks like an unregenerate cynic who wants to shock the world by sneering at it, while Johnson looks like a man determined to penetrate to the heart of human existence. The more serious man is also far the funnier."

1/14/2010 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

River said that.

1/14/2010 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Sal said...

Ever late to the party.
Job- do I understand you to be saying that Catholics believe that the sacraments, which is all I can think that 'artificial constructs' might mean, are the only source of grace? Because they're not.
Like it's either priest-craft or "Ya got nuthin'! (our new family phrase)? Do you really think that people throughout the ages didn't have private prayer, contemplation, etc.?

So- basically, well-meaning non-Catholics are inviting me to toss all the gifts of Jesus- the Church, with its sacraments, heirarchy, communion of saints and its teaching authority- to do something I can already do.
While I appreciate the thought, I have to decline.

NB- if it was the secular press, it is almost certain that they got it wrong. If not, River's explanation is probably right.

Wv: mizers

1/14/2010 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Anonyword is an equivocating mess, Ricky. Proposing to fight tyranny with...more tyranny? Best get back to skimming the anonys. Van, thank you, that does help. I could stand to re-read a couple more times. I'll admit, I don't recognize the view of scripture you describe. Recall that among inerrantists are some of the best biblical language scholars out there. I think they are aware that King James didn't write the Bible. ;) Admittedly, I've met a few irrational KJV-only-ists, but they're a pretty small subset of Protestantism.

1/14/2010 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Sal: Being Orthodox I have no dog in the fight. I can just cross fingers and hope that nice relics end up being sent back to us as a result (i.e, George, Christopher.)

We consider them all benefits, i.e. gifts, all of which we do not deserve (they are a result of God's grace) but are ours because, dang, that's just how the Man rolls.

Babies communing is pretty awesome, I'm just saying.

1/14/2010 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Hello River.

1/14/2010 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I think I may be through with replying to Anonys. Completely through with the shape-shifting kind (Word Indeed).
But, there are the admirable ones, such as our Unkown Friend (Meditations on the Tarot).

1/14/2010 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Sal said...

it's kind of like being in an old Emily Litella sketch: you don't even recognize what's being described.
"What's all this I hear about violins on television?"

it's not so much being right, as just accurate. says the token Exoteric...
Re: apologetics, I'd like to be Warren, when I grow up.

1/14/2010 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Van, River said that."

Picky, picky, picky....


1/14/2010 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Susannah, said "I'll admit, I don't recognize the view of scripture you describe."

I was trying to be as over the top as possible in order to make the point... and obviously if you've survived a weeks worth of posts here, or even a days, it doesn't apply to you, but unfortunately that doesn't mean it is completely untrue.

One place I worked at for a time was in the midst of heavy remodeling, we'd enter our I.S. room in the morning, and coming out in the afternoon, the hall we entered in through would be gone, and a new door had appeared on the opposite wall... I remarked to the Mgr I.S. that "This is like working in a Harry Potter movie!", and he stopped dead in his tracks, gave me the iciest stare ever, and said something like "I wouldn't know, those are the works of SATAN and we do not watch or read the devils works".

Sorta killed the humor of the moment. But I assure you, having been curious enough to engage him on other subjects a few more times, in his mind, the KJV was the source material, and the original greek gospels were suspect derivations from it.

I know that bears little or no resemblance to those you mention who "Recall that among inerrantists are some of the best biblical language scholars out there", but the mindset is out there.

1/14/2010 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Your non-replies may be interpreted as hurtful.

1/14/2010 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Job said...

It's pretty simple.
An "artificial construct" is anything made by man/church to separate man from Christs saving grace. Be it by using a special language, a priest telling him that he is required to go through/pay the priest to obtain his forgiveness (or more importantly, salvation), or a church that would believe/teach him that there is any other way to God but through the acceptance of Christ as his Saviour. No priest or pope can pray you in, No priest or pope can keep you out. No priest or pope can accept your confession on God's behalf. No priest or pope can give you salvation. Catechism and Sacraments can't get you there, the wisdom of the ages can't get you there. Got it? If you disagree, take it up with Paul, read the New Testament and concentrate of Romans.
If any man can name the Name of Christ, he is my brother, even if he likes to jump up and down in his worship, count rosaries, hold raffles and bingo games, wear a dress (a not so subtle shot at priests), or write a Coonifesto....
And that is where this little excursion maybe should have started, because, protestants are never sure they are talking to their brethren in Christ when addressing Catholics.

wv; wisme.....if only it were true...

1/14/2010 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Job said...

yeah, perhaps the guy is not as far along in his journey...but I would ask you if you agree that Hollywood doesn't have a lot good things you would teach your children or want them to learn from........

1/14/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Job: all are artificial constructs, including the scriptures themselves. The spirit inspires, it does not write.

The question is not whether it is tradition or not, but whether it is the holy tradition or the tradition of men.

Everything else that comes forth - provided it does not contradict what is handed down - should be considered obediently by the faithful as aids to their salvation, as ways to accept God's grace - including and especially things which are difficult, persecutory and offensive.

At least, this is what I have been taught. The limit to whether we accept something has to do with orthodoxy - right teaching.

There is a key paradox here; but it doesn't reveal anything other than a spiral structure. You must have some spiritual knowledge to gain more; or so says the Lord.

1/14/2010 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Van, I've gotten similar close-mindedness from some family members re. Catholics. One of them said to me once, in horrified tones, "They use a different Bible than we do."

1/14/2010 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Rickster, oh, hai! Heh, sorry. It's easy to forget that we're all invisible on the internet...

1/14/2010 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

My recognition of someone's error regarding something, is not necessarily an endorsement of that same thing.

Your nic is new around here, but I think it's safe to say that there's a long history of my... er... principled dissatisfaction with Hollywood, and an awareness of there being... something more of value to be found elsewhere.

Still like your book though.

1/14/2010 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...


The 'early church' used the Septuagint; that means Maccabees, Tobit, etc.

If I understand rightly, what offends many very committed reform / fundamentalist Christians is the nominality / superstition they see in many Catholics.

It's a case of planks and motes no doubt, since most po-mo agnostics / atheists are the Protestant nominal.

1/14/2010 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said " horrified tones, "They use a different Bible than we do.""


1/14/2010 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I see you.
(That’s an Avatar joke :-) but also a tip o’ the hat back to you.

It was the proximity of our earlier comments this morning that made me wonder. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “consume” since I don’t use it the way some see it. I didn’t bring it up. What’s-his-shape did. My main objection was to his tyrannical belief system.

1/14/2010 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Anecdotes can flow both ways, though. While I count sincere- believer Catholics among my relatives (one very close relative just converted, as a matter of fact), whom, I have no doubt at all, know Christ, I also encounter many Catholics who, despite having grown up under the Church's doctrines, don't understand the basic doctrines of atonement and justification. I remember one acquaintance saying she'd have to "justify her life" at some point--meaning she'd have to go off and do some sort of grand Mother Theresa type thing to atone for herself. I tried to explain the finished work of the cross to her, and she looked at me as if I had two heads. How could a life-long Catholic not hear this teaching at least once? As a non-Catholic, I don't know if this frequently encountered phenomenon is attributable to local emphases in teaching, or to an unclear *general* Church teaching. Clearly, some Catholics "get it," but many don't.

1/14/2010 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Russell said...

Re: Candide.

I read it, and I liked it. It was a farce, to be sure, and Voltaire had a number of bones to pick with a chainsaw, and he gleefully attacked whatever he wanted. It's partly a satire on the bildungsroman and the picaresque novel of the time, partly aimed at mocking Leibnizian optimism.

For me, the end of the book was worth it -- "That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden."


1/14/2010 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Russell said "I read it, and I liked it. It was a farce, to be sure, and Voltaire had a number of bones to pick with a chainsaw, and he gleefully attacked whatever he wanted"

Lol, yes, true.

And I did read it, and re read it and enjoyed doing it, one of my first dives into the Western Canon many, many moons ago. But on re-reading it again a couple years ago... I found it fell pretty flat. My criticism may be a tad unfair, as it is directed more to the modern reaction, and influence, of Candide in todays world, rather than of it, and Voltaire's intent for it, for his time and concerns.


In comparison to Rasselas... taken as a work to enrich, guide and stir valuable reflection for someone today or any other time outside the narrow concerns of Voltaire's day, I've gotta go with Dalrymple's comment.

Voltaire's an early favorite of mine (for much more than Candide), but for today... spending time on what for most people would be taken to be little more than a Bill Maher skit in period costumes and a wig; that's time far better spent on what Dr. Johnson had to say.

Btw, have you read Rasselas? Free download at that link, certainly worth the price.

1/14/2010 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Russell said...


"Bill Maher skit in period costumes and a wig"


Well, I think it has a little more to say than Maher has in his entire life, but although I liked it, I have no plans to read again in the next couple of decades.

"Btw, have you read Rasselas?"

No, not yet. It's on my list to read, which sadly seems to grow faster than I can read. Thanks for the link, though, it'll save me the trouble of hunting down a physical copy!

1/14/2010 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Susannah: Hmm, maybe this is a bit late, but hopefully this will help with your broken Enter key:

If you're using Windows, you can get around that handicap by holding down the Alt key, typing "013" (without the quotes) on the numeric keypad, and then releasing Alt. It should produce the same result as having pressed the Enter key.

It's definitely less convenient, but hopefully an acceptable substitute for the time being. :) (I used it exclusively in composition of this post)

1/15/2010 03:11:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Thanks, Paul...very handy. Copying and pasting into my document for "cheats"--I've figured out how to get around it on my blog and in Word, of course, but was stymied here.

1/16/2010 06:07:00 PM  

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