Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just to clarify...

…because it can be confusing:



Halloween (or Hallowe'en), October 31: 

The word derives from "All Hallows' Eve", which denotes the evening before All Hallows' Day (All Saints' Day), a Christian feast day.


All Saints' Day, November 1:

Also known as the Feast of All Saints. It's the day we Catholics honor all the saints in Heaven, not only the canonized, recognized saints who have their own particular feast days on the Church calendar. There are many millions of saints in Heaven who are not canonized, most of whom are obviously unknown to us, and this is the day we celebrate those myriad holy men and women.

All Saints' Day is a holy day of obligation, and so to willfully miss mass on this day is a grave sin for Catholics. (In other words, get to mass!)


All Souls' Day, November 2:

This is the day we remember and pray for all the souls in Purgatory. These souls are not forgotten by the universal Church, and they benefit from the prayers of the faithful as they steadily approach perfection and the Beatific Vision. Often, Catholic parishes invite parishioners to write the names of their deceased loved ones in a "Book of Remembrance", to have prayers and masses offered for these souls during the month of November.

All Souls' Day is not a holy day of obligation.




And, I guess this very little teaching qualifies as a Little Teaching, so it gets the icon!











302 comments:

  1. Though I have decided that I will place my unbelief in the hands of Jesus and often repeat "Jesus, I trust in you" or "Lord, I (don't) believe. Help my unbelief", there is no way that I can see life after death being in the remotest way possible. Everything we are resides in our brains, which stop working when we die. How is all that information transferred from our heads to our "souls"? Does not compute. I'm open to theories as to how this happens.

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    1. Bill, I've argued this with atheist a lot. Fancy arguments aside, it really comes down to what you believe about yourself. Are you more than atoms and voids? Is there a "you" that is more than your body? I have some posts I can link if you want to read the neuroscience and philosophical arguments, but really, like I said, it comes down to how you answer the question about the soul for yourself.

      Having a rational soul is what makes us "made in the image of God" and what gives us our powers of intellect and free will. It's a beautiful thing, but yeah, it can be a little scary too.

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  2. I love your Little Teachings, always have! :-)

    Bill, I hope someone can answer your question, it is a tough one!

    I will tell you my experience, though I doubt it will answer any of your questions (sorry to those who have heard this story a thousand times, feel free to skip)...nearly 4 years ago now I had a massive heart attack. My heart stopped beating for 40 minutes and I was technically dead. As to what happened to me (my soul), it is tough for me to explain or understand truly what was happening. But I remember sitting on the porch steps with my husband, waiting for the ambulance when my heart stopped beating. I was still conscious when this happened and even told my husband that my heart had stopped. He told me that was impossible, because I was still conscious. About 5 seconds later, everything went black. From here, it gets a little weird--what happened to my body is that I went limp, the policeman who had showed up right when I collapsed and my husband carried me to the top of the platform where CPR was started. As for what was happening to me (my soul, thoughts, and so on) as far as I was concerned, everything continued on as before: "When is the ambulance coming? Who turned the lights out?" (Yes, I really did think that!) I thought I was still sitting on the steps with my husband and began to get very scared because everything had become dark and still. Over "time" (again, very hard to explain since time had no meaning to me) I went from sitting on the steps to feeling very light like I was floating. I do not have any amazing after-death story to tell; I did not see anything--no lights, no angels, no pearly gates. What I "saw" was nothing but darkness; however, I was acutely aware of myself the entire time. I knew where I was, and knew who I was. The only thing that changed was that all fear vanished and I was completely at peace. Also (again over "time",) all memory of myself, my family, and what happened vanished as well. It's very possible that this happened because of medically what was happening to me (no oxygen for 40 minutes); the only thing that really convinces me that this was spiritual over mental, is that never in my life have I ever felt at peace like I did at that time. I will never be able to explain it or describe it, which is frustrating when people ask. All they hear is the part about the darkness.

    My point is that even after my body died, my soul continued on. Nothing stopped--my thought process continued on as before with the same fears, same worries, 'when are they going to get here?' (the ambulance), and so on. Over that period of time because of lack of oxygen, my thought process did change (I no longer knew myself as Becky, wife and mother but I did know myself as a live being), however, the peace, and the awareness of self never changed for a second.

    I don't know where I was, or even if it really was a "place". I like to joke that my soul didn't even make it to purgatory; seeing that it was a place of darkness but with no suffering. What I have decided over the years is that though my soul was separated for a short time from my body, God never intended that my life should be over, and like the little girl Tabitha, I was only "asleep" but He used my experience to give a miracle to others. This is the best I can describe it: I was "asleep" in a place of peace and darkness and waiting to be woken up again by God.

    I'm sorry if this doesn't help at all, hopefully it will give you a direction in your journey. Otherwise, I'm sure others have some great answers to give.

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  3. Leila, have you ever considered making the Little teachings icon a button on your blog that other Catholic bloggers could grab and put in their sidebar to lead them to your page?

    Mrs.C

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    1. That's a neat idea! I think I could make the icon available, and then give the link for them to link it to! Thanks!

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    2. Bloggers can just grab the icon, and then link it to this URL:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/p/little-teachings.html

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  4. Bill, from what I can tell the Biblical afterlife is a lot more physical than people usually think of it as. The resurrection of the dead seems to involve everyone being brought back with a physical body (perhaps something like Jesus' body post-Resurrection). Some people took this so seriously that they thought cremation would make an afterlife impossible. Of course, those who have been dead for hundreds or thousands of years don't have much body left, anyway. So it would make sense for Christians to believe that if God could make you once, he could do it again after the end of the world. If you want to put your faith in the afterlife perhaps you should think of it that way.

    I've honestly never quite understood the concept of souls, but I'm not sure it's necessary to be a Christian.

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    1. Chris, just to clarify: Yes, we believe in the resurrection of the body (all bodies) but that won't happen until the culmination of the world (the end of time, when Jesus returns). Yes, our bodies will be glorified and perfected, as Jesus' was after His resurrection. (The bodies in hell will not be glorified.) But the reason that cremation was forbidden was not for the reasons you state. Cremation used to be done as a denial of the resurrection (which would be a heresy), so it was forbidden for Christians to go that route. Today, considering the enormous costs of burying our dead, we are loosed from that restriction, as long as the cremation is not done as a statement against the resurrection.

      Clearly, Catholics know that bodies turn to dust (and always have) and so we never thought that God could not resurrect a body that had been totally decomposed. ;)

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    2. And yes, it's essential to Christianity to believe in the soul. Absolutely essential. To say otherwise is like saying we don't need to believe in Christ to be Christian, or we don't need to believe that Christ rose from the dead to be Christian. It would fly in the face of the most basic, foundational Christian beliefs.

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    3. Should have done my research on cremation. You're right, it looks like it was more done by non-Christians to deny the resurrection.

      Wouldn't you say that everyone who believes the Nicene Creed is a Christian? I always figured that covered the basics, and all it says about our afterlife is that we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

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  5. Thanks Becky. I don't know if you are aware of my recent experience in which I tried to end my life by breathing carbon monoxide. I felt at peace and was ok with dying because I thought the people left behind, most of all my wife, would eventually be better off without me. I was sure that living with an atheist was too much for my wife and that if we went on, she would either retain her faith and we would be miserable together or she would lose her faith and we would still be miserable together. When I was rescued by the police and put in the ambulance, all I could think was that I was going to be even more miserable with a wife who knew I tried to leave her this way. I was sent to McClean, a really good psychiatric facility. During the days of counseling, every case worker and doctor shared their faith with me even though it is a secular facility. I decided to give up and to put it all in the hands of Jesus, who either exists or could be an imaginary friend. That's where I am in my journey (no, not at McClean). Jesus is my imaginary friend who has somehow managed to be real in a certain sense. I used to look at the Divine Mercy image and say "Jesus, I trust in you". So that is what I am doing again.

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    1. Bill, that is exactly what faith is. I don't know, maybe others would argue, but to me, the desire to believe counts for something if not everything. You saying "Jesus, I trust in You" is a beautiful testimony; it is exactly what God asks of us, to believe in Him if even just with the desire to believe. You are on the right track.

      Before my Dad died, he was unable to confess his sins in confession because his dementia had gotten so bad. However, he still wanted to go and my mom would bring him. The priest never told us his sins of course, but at my Dad's funeral he told us that all my Dad would say is: "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." He couldn't remember his sins but he knew he was a sinner and needed mercy; his desire to be forgiven was enough to forgive, even if he didn't know specifically what he needed to be forgiven for. We all are on different walks of life; I believe that you are not so different from the rest of us. :-)

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    2. Btw, I'm glad God intervened; I'm glad you're still with us.

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  6. Btw, I'm glad God intervened; I'm glad you're still with us.

    I've yet to run into anyone who has said otherwise. That's got to count for something.

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  7. Yes, we believe in the resurrection of the body (all bodies) but that won't happen until the culmination of the world (the end of time, when Jesus returns).

    Where does stuff like this come from? What possible purpose can there be in souls in heaven taking on bodies and living back here on. Must you believe everything so literally? I thought you went to BC and had a high GPA. Does Peter Kreeft also believe this to be literally true. We are way past impossible.

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  8. Bill, lol, this is Catholic teaching for 2,000 years. That's where I "get this stuff". From Christ's Church, from the time of Christ, unchanging. Yes, of course Kreeft believes it!

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  9. Has anyone thought about the logistics. I never took any of that literally, even when I was the most religious. I'm not sure all Catholics do.

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    1. St. Thomas has. Working out the "resurrection of the body" was admittedly a difficulty, but the basic reasoning (as I understand it) is to remain consistent with the definition of "human person."

      If human persons are body and soul, and then after you die the body disappears and only the soul lives on, the logically that would also mean the end of the human person. It would mean the human becomes an angel (disembodied soul). Therefore, the resurrection of the body maintains the fact of life after death for the human person.

      Mortimer J. Adler, an almost lifelong pagan and philosopher, struggled with that particular teaching (so you are in good company). Adler converted in his last 90th (89th?) year of life to Catholicism.

      I offer that to assure that yeah, people have thought about the logistics.

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    2. Sorry typos. Hopefully you can make it out. Yikes.

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  10. "Wouldn't you say that everyone who believes the Nicene Creed is a Christian?"

    Technically, everyone who is baptized is a Christian. And as far as belief in the Nicene Creed, it depends on how they believe it. If they believe the Nicene Creed as the Fathers believed it, then yes. But, for example, some Episcopalians believe that Christ "rose from the dead" only symbolically. So, that would not be in keeping with Christian belief at all. They would have interpreted themselves right out of Christian belief. Some people do this with the Bible as well. That is why Christ left an authoritative Church, so that there would be a point of clarity, a touchstone for the Truth. Otherwise, you'd have a different interpretation of things by every person interpreting, and there would be no meaningful understanding of what is true.

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  11. I have always wondered how Protestants interpret "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church"…? I mean, how can they really justify those words while rejecting Catholicism?

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  12. Becky and Bill, your exchange is very beautiful. Thank you.

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  13. Margo...I knew a Lutheran pastor years ago who would say, "I believe in one, holy, Christian, and apostolic church"--which, of course, doesn't even convey the same meaning. And interestingly, he was not really anti-Catholic, per se; I think that he was simply using a form that he was taught.

    One Protestant interpretation of "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church"--and it seems to be quite common--is that that church is strictly spiritual, and has no single earthly counterpart. That, of course, makes certain passages of scripture a bit difficult to interpret (away), such as Matthew 18:17, "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church...."; and 1 Timothy 3:15, "...the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulward of the truth." It would take significant verbal gymnastics; but I've seen a few try!

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  14. I offer that to assure that yeah, people have thought about the logistics.

    Stacy,

    Do you think it could be possible that believers can cross a point of no return where there is nothing they will not believe because they are so proud of their ability to believe that they will believe everything?

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  15. Bill, you act as if these basic teachings get more and more fantastical, and yet they've been held since the beginning. It's nothing new. So, what was the "crossing a point of no return"? What was that point? Probably a dead man rising, no? That is the crux of it all. Only God could raise himself from the dead, as he is the Author of Life and has power over death.

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  16. Bill S, I'm at the point of no return. I've suffered, I've clung to faith, I've seen miracles, I rely on God more than I rely on air. I am more certain of God's grace and mercy than I am certain a ball will fall to the ground if I drop it. Just as I don't sit around wondering if the next ball will fall, I don't sit around doubting God anymore. I spend my time moving on. And it has nothing to do with pride. It has everything to do with sanity.

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  17. Stacy,

    I have experienced small miracles up to and including my latest adventure. Nothing has ever required a violation of a law of nature, which would be a major miracle. It is my sincere belief that a law of nature has never been violated and never can be.

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  18. If there is a law, there is a lawgiver, no? Who created Nature?

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  19. If there is a law, there is a lawgiver, no? Who created Nature?

    According to scientists, no one created nature. It just is. A lot of things you credit to God, I credit to Nature.

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  20. "It just is"? How is that logical? *Poof*, nature just appeared out of nowhere? And you say what I believe is incredible? ;)

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  21. What you might mean is who created the universe. You say God. I say Nature. Whichever it is, it just is. Like God called himself "I am".

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  22. "No, you don't understand. It's just turtles, all the way down!"

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  23. Nature created Nature? I don't get that… How can something create itself? Where do you see that in Nature?

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  24. Maybe you mean who wrote the laws of Nature? You say God but then you say that this God is best described by the Bible and represented by the Catholic Church. I say those are two separate entities. The God of the Bible did not write the laws of Nature. Of course they weren't actually written. They have just always existed. The writers of the Bible, Jesus, Church officials, etc. have known virtually nothing about the science of creation or the laws of Nature.

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  25. Bill, do you believe that Jesus is God? Do you believe that we owe anything to Jesus after He died on the Cross for our sins? And why shouldn't we believe everything Jesus revealed to us? Was He lying when He claimed to be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life"?

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  26. The laws of Nature have "always existed"? Not sure how to interpret this. Nature didn't exist, but the "laws of Nature" have always existed? Is that what you mean?

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  27. Margo,

    I do not believe everything about Jesus that you do. I have made a personal decision to put my trust in him in whatever capacity that he might exist. I can't say more than that. Obviously, the writer of the Gospel of John wanted his readers to believe that Jesus called himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. Whether Jesus had really said that about 70 years earlier can not be known for certain. I see no reason to think of Jesus as anything more than a man who was killed by the Romans. My trust in him does not require him to be God.

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  28. Nature has always existed. This universe has existed for about 13.7 billion years. Earth for about 4.5 billion years. Why are you getting hung up on the concept of Nature? It's just a word do describe the way we got to where we are today. A natural progression of very fortuitous events that seem like some sort of grand design but are just random purposeless occurrences.

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  29. My trust in him does not require him to be God.

    I used to look at the Divine Mercy image and say "Jesus, I trust in you". So that is what I am doing again.

    Bill, do you know what the Divine Mercy image means? It means that Jesus truly is Divine Mercy, He truly does forgive every sin we commit as long as we are genuinely sorry for them. How can He do that if He is not God? And if Jesus is not God then what makes Him trustworthy? If Jesus isn't God, then who is He? Just some good guy who referred to Himself as God?

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  30. I see your point, Margo. But that's the best I can do.

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  31. Are you sure it's your best? Why not try to keep getting to know Jesus better? Ask Him to reveal more of Himself to you? He's so gentle and patient with us, so He won't overwhelm you, yet, there's so much more to learn about Him and from Him. Especially in this digital age, there are countless resources to help you grow closer to Him and explain anything that doesn't make sense at first to you. Keep going, Bill :)

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  32. Nature means what, then? I am not sure we have the same definition. What is your definition and is it in any dictionary? Seriously asking. If are terms are not the same, we only talk past each other.

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  33. @Becky
    Thank you so much for your wonderful story!

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  34. @Margo
    I have seen you write about what Jesus "said" and what he "wants," as well as what God "wants," quite a lot. What brings you to believe that you know what Jesus said? As Bill mentioned, those words were written down approx 70 years after Jesus died. And back then very few people were literate, and who knows if anyone who actually heard what Jesus said wrote it down? Stories that are carried down verbally change drastically over time, and who knows how much they changed over decades?

    Then there is the issue of translation. There have been several translations of the bible over the centuries; the dead sea scrolls have raised many questions. It is unfathomable to me that the bible contains actual quotes of Jesus. And even if they are quotes, how can we possibly interpret what those words meant to him 2000 years ago in such a different time and culture?

    And how can you believe that you know what God "thinks"? Most of the things I see you write are based on what I see as fantastical premises.

    I don't mean to single you out, because I see those statements all the time on this blog, but I remember seeing them most often from you.

    I don't mean this as an affront at all, and I intend no disrespect. But, after hanging around this blog over a very long time now (two years?) I am still mystified as to why you (collective you) believe these things, and I truly want to understand. Thanks.

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  35. Hi Bill- maybe you could read about what a miracle is defined as in terms or nature-

    "The wonder of the miracle is due to the fact that its cause is hidden, and an effect is expected other than what actually takes place."
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10338a.htm

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    1. *of nature.
      as it is defined for us Catholics to understand when we speak of miracles or the supernatural.

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  36. "Nothing has ever required a violation of a law of nature, which would be a major miracle. It is my sincere belief that a law of nature has never been violated and never can be."

    "Again, the term contrary to nature does not mean "unnatural" in the sense of producing discord and confusion. The forces of nature differ in power and are in constant interaction. This produces interferences and counteractions of forces. This is true of mechanical, chemical, and biological forces. So, also, at every moment of the day I interfere with and counteract natural forces about me. I study the properties of natural forces with a view to obtain conscious control by intelligent counteractions of one force against another. Intelligent counteraction marks progress in chemistry, in physics — e.g., steam locomotion, aviation — and in the prescriptions of the physician. Man controls nature, nay, can live only by the counteraction of natural forces. Though all this goes on around us, we never speak of natural forces violated. These forces are still working after their kind, and no force is destroyed, nor is any law broken, nor does confusion result. The introduction of human will may bring about a displacement of the physical forces, but no infraction of physical processes."

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10338a.htm

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  37. "Now in a miracle God's action relative to its bearing on natural forces is analogous to the action of human personality. Thus, e.g., it is against the nature of iron to float, but the action of Eliseus in raising the axe-head to the surface of the water (2 Kings 6) is no more a violation, or a transgression, or an infraction of natural laws than if he raised it with his hand. Again, it is of the nature of fire to burn, but when, e.g., the Three Children were preserved untouched in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3) there was nothing unnatural in the act, as these writers use the word, any more than there would be in erecting a dwelling absolutely fireproof. In the one case, as in the other, there was no paralysis of natural forces and no consequent disorder."

    sorry Leila- will try to post all my comments as one big comment

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  38. I use the word "Nature" with the capital "N" to designate what some sometimes call "Mother Nature" and some call "God". It appears to almost be an intelligence that brings about a natural order to everything we see. It keeps the planets in motion. It creates black holes. It gives plants and animals survival instincts. It controls the weather to a point that our understanding of Nature allows us to predict the weather. What insurance companies call an "act of God" is actually an act of Nature. It is all encompassing. I'm sure you can come up with examples of Nature that you see every day. If you pray for rain, you are really hoping that Nature will bring it about. I hope you understand what I mean. It's Nature. You know?

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  39. Crystal,

    I can't handle excerpts from the New Advent Encyclopedia. They as clear as mud. All I am saying is that I know of no verifiable occurrence that has ever violated or overrode a law of nature. Parting of bodies of water, walking on water, rising from the dead and ascending into the sky are examples of nonverifiable event that, if true, would violate or override the laws of nature.

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  40. On the genesis and nature of man (in the context of evolution), Pope Benedict XVI said:

    “The clay became man at the moment in which a being for the first time was capable of forming, however dimly, the thought of “God”. The first Thou that – however stammeringly – was said by human lips to God marks the moment in which the spirit arose in the world. Here the Rubicon of anthropogenesis was crossed. For it is not the use of weapons or fire, not... new methods of cruelty or of useful activity, that constitute man, but rather his ability to be immediately in relation to God. This holds fast to the doctrine of the special creation of man ... herein ... lies the reason why the moment of anthropogenesis cannot possibly be determined by paleontology: anthropogenesis is the rise of the spirit, which cannot be excavated with a shovel."

    Man is no mere instinctive and senseless animal (although he might frequently tend to act like one). He is flesh and spirit (body and soul) - constituted precisely in the image and likeness of the Christ through Whom (Christianity proposes) all things came to be.

    Therefore I'd suggest, that to say "Jesus, I trust in You!", however falteringly or hesitatingly (but not under duress), would certainly be a moment when the spirit of an unbeliever/un-knower awakens, to begin its journey towards self knowledge and, by extension, acceptance of divine truths about all things.

    God eternally contemplates Himself (most rightly taking delight in His own perfections). Thus (I propose) it is no surprise that it is in man's nature too to do the same, even if subconsciously: seek out/develop an awareness of the most profound/enduring aspects of his being - which no mere animal, regardless of its brain capacity, does. Even in the temple of Apollo at Delphi the ancient Greek aphorism urged all and sundry: "Know thyself!" Obviously, it wasn't an exhortation to study (just) one's body parts or even (just) one's brain functions! Instead it advocated a search for holistic knowledge of oneself - which, for those who have undertaken such a search without biases or preconceptions (i.e., in "childlike" manner) leads inevitably to (knowledge of) God. "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children (non-cynical, open to wonder, open, eventually, to a "Thou"), you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Instead, "dust you are and unto dust shall you return" (Genesis 3:19). That, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, children whose restless hearts long for meaning and greatness and, indeed, immortality, is the ultimate, straightforward, and essential choice. Each of us has an intellect and a free will. We live and die as we live and die.

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  41. For it is not the use of weapons or fire, not... new methods of cruelty or of useful activity, that constitute man, but rather his ability to be immediately in relation to God.

    With all due respect to Benedict, he knows very little about anthropology. He doesn't understand the process that lead to the emergence of Homo sapiens as the dominant species on the planet. Early religions involved paganism, superstition and the worship of tribal gods. Yahweh started out as a pagan god whose followers made into the one true God. That's how we got to where we are today.

    My trust in Jesus is that, if he does exist, he will not hold it against me for questioning the legitimacy of his Church.

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  42. Bill,

    With all due respect to you, I suggest that Pope Benedict XVI has more knowledge of anthropology (besides a vast number of other sciences and philosophies) in his little toe than most of us have in our entire heads! You don't get to become the leading theologian in the world in centuries (acknowledged even by non Catholics and non Christians) with half baked knowledge of the everyday sciences. Even I, silly me, understand the evolutionary processes (as far as they are known) that contributed to the emergence of homo sapiens as the dominant species on this planet. So spare us your utterly silly and precocious assessments of a giant intellect, will you? Patently cheap shots like that diminish your own cred with intelligent and informed readers of the Bubble.

    The point though is, Pope Benedict wasn't talking about anthroplology. He was making a point in the area of anthropogenesis - the stage of evolution at which man ceased to be mere beast, and the factor that brought about that differentiation (between man and beast). You can study physical and intellectual development with sciences like anthropology, but you can't expect science to tell you anything at all about the essential nature of man or his spirit/soul. Unless you contend, as you likely do, that the essence of a human being is comprised of his body parts and the physical processes in his brain.

    As to your point about early religions like paganism, pantheism, superstition, et al., those too were, in fact, the product of man's innate sense, from the beginning, of an intelligent authority greater than himself - which so-called "enlightened" man now fashionably chooses to deny. And it's totally logical that as man's understanding of that higher authority grew, he arrived at the philosophical concept of a Theos, having recognized (with observation, reasoning, and, indeed, scientific progress) that a) inanimate objects don't just bring themselves into existence and therefore cannot be gods and b) that a creator and his creation cannot be the same thing.

    Lastly, I'm intrigued by your assertion that Yahweh "started out as a pagan god". Perhaps you might care to expand on that.

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  43. Unless you contend, as you likely do, that the essence of a human being is comprised of his body parts and the physical processes in his brain.

    Of this I have no doubt.

    I meant to say "tribal" god.

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  44. Bill, we don't use "Nature" and "God" as synonymous (they are not the same word, nor do they have the same meaning), so that is why we aren't communicating well here.

    Johanne, if I distill it down, are you asking why the New Testament is reliable history and can be trusted?

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  45. Okay, Bill, if we are essentially no more than an amalgam of our body parts and the computations in our brains, do you think it is possible that given the current advances in the creation of robotic body parts and artificial intelligence, we can one day create what is, to all intents and purposes, a human being?

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  46. do you think it is possible that given the current advances in the creation of robotic body parts and artificial intelligence, we can one day create what is, to all intents and purposes, a human being?

    Life and consciousness are not and may not ever be understood by nature. So, I don't think we will ever make humans.

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  47. Understood by science. Not nature.

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  48. Hi Leila!

    "are you asking why the New Testament is reliable history and can be trusted?"

    Not really. I accept the basic history of the New Testament: the historical figure of Jesus, Herod, Pilate, the pharisees, that Jesus was crucified on the cross, etc.

    But what doesn't make sense to me is believing the actual quotes of Jesus are accurate, and that our current interpretation of those words (which might be very different than their original meanings when you take into account centuries of time, drastically different cultures, subtleties of language, various translations, the motivations of the original writers and the motivations of the translators, the motivations of the human beings who decided which books of the bible to include in the canon, the veracity and motives of all the people who kept these stories alive by word of mouth, etc, etc, etc, etc) offer concrete evidence for what God "wants" or 'think" or "intends."

    I understand that once you accept the premise that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead and was therefore God, that you need to accept whatever he said as God's word. But how do you know what he said?? That is the part I don't understand. I've said before this reminds me of the lovely Jehovah's Witness gentleman that I invited into my home who said that everything the bible says is true, and when I asked him how he knew that, he said "because the bible says so."

    How do Catholics find your way out of that loop?

    When Margot says

    "And why shouldn't we believe everything Jesus revealed to us? Was He lying when He claimed to be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life"?

    How can we possibly know if Jesus actually said those words, and if he did, how can we translate such a nebulous phrase as "the way" across centuries--and what did the concept of "light" mean?

    Can you understand what I'm asking? You could say that I'm over thinking it, but you cannot over think something you are putting forth as evidence of what God "says"--because what could be more important?

    I've heard non-believers label Catholics are "arrogant" for asserting their beliefs are god's beliefs and therefore non-negotiable (i.e. re: homosexuality). The word arrogant implies a negative motive so I don't think it fits. But there is nothing more presumptuous than claiming that what you say represents God. After all this time I still don't understand why you feel justified in claiming that. Maybe I never will.

    I'm sorry--I think I repeat myself a lot. I don't mean to hog the space.

    Thanks!!

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  49. And even if they are quotes, how can we possibly interpret what those words meant to him 2000 years ago in such a different time and culture?

    Do you apply this standard to every other ancient writing? Do you really think we can't accurately interpret words written outside of our own culture? Doesn't this invalidate the vast majority of ancient literature and other writings?

    I think with a little scholarship we can understand the meaning of the vast majority of important historical texts. The gospels weren't written in some alien language, they were written in an ancient form of one that still exists today. There are plenty of other Greek texts from that time period and general part of the world. We may miss nuances that would be apparent to someone from that place and time, but that doesn't invalidate the overall meaning of what's said. Plus, we can read writings from early Christian writers that help clarify the meaning they took from certain texts.

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  50. "Do you really think we can't accurately interpret words written outside of our own culture?"

    Sometimes yes and sometimes no. But the New Testament is different than other ancient writings. The bible quotes things that were said decades before they were written down. And all the people who had a hand in remembering, recording, and translating those words had powerful motivations. And most ancient writing is a recording of facts, not an interpretation of God's thoughts and intentions.

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  51. For Johanne- I highly, highly, highly recommend a great book by Frank Sheed called, Knowing God. In it, he has excellent chapters on the topics of Scripture, the inspiration of it, and the "problem of inerrancy". There's so much more contained within it, as well.

    I just read my copy over two days time. It's easy to digest, enjoyable, and not at all dry. He's a gifted writer. I'm confident you'd find the answers to lots of your good questions. Also, I always recommend his other book, To Know Christ Jesus . Excellent book that draws the reader in to ponder the person of Christ in his humanity and divinity, without overwhelming him/her.

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  52. That is the part I don't understand. I've said before this reminds me of the lovely Jehovah's Witness gentleman that I invited into my home who said that everything the bible says is true, and when I asked him how he knew that, he said "because the bible says so."

    Also, this guy above used circular logic. Catholics don't reason about our faith that way. He had no authority outside of the bible to look to. We have the magisterium, the teaching arm of the Church.

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  53. @ Nubby.
    Thank you for your suggestions. I'd like to read those books.

    What is the authority of the magisterium, if not the bible?

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  54. Johanne, Protestants believe in sola scriptura (that a Christian's only authority is the Bible). That is a heresy that came up only 500 years ago, during the Reformation. It is not a Christian teaching. The Church gave us the New Testament. The authority of the Bible rests on the Church's say-so, not the other way around. In other words, the Bible is Church-based. The Magisterium (the Successors of the Apostles) have the charism from Christ to not only canonize (determine) the Scriptures, but also interpret them in the context of the Christian Faith. The Scriptures are the written part of Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition (both written and oral) is protected by the Holy Spirit. That was Christ's promise -- that we could look to the Apostles and their successors (the Magisterium, the Church) and know the Truth.

    Hope that helps. So often, we Americans, even Catholics, think only through the lens of Protestant paradigms. But that is not correct.

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  55. The authority of the magisterium is found in both scripture and tradition.
    The fullness of Christianity includes written and oral authority. The Catholic Church has both, since the time of Jesus and the apostles.

    The JW gentleman only had his version of Scripture. I say "his version" because the JW will tell you that Jesus is actually Michael the Archangel. You would find yourself in a scripture battle, refuting his claim. He ultimately has no authority to support that belief.

    It all comes down to authority. Who has it and where did it come from?

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  56. Another book suggestion that is specifically designed to answer those questions, Johanne, is Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli.

    Here's the linear reasoning that Catholics use (as opposed to circular):

    The New Testament can be trusted as history.
    We know from eyewitnesses, and reliable historical accounts, that Jesus died and rose from the dead.
    If a man rose from the dead, we trust that He is God.
    God (that man, Jesus Christ) founded a Church (we know this from reliable history, too).
    We trust that Church to teach the Truth.
    One of the Church's teachings is that the Bible is inerrant on matters of faith and morals. But one does not start there to know the truth. One starts with history, and the claims about Jesus Christ dying and rising. Go from there.

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  57. Johanne, another thing you need to understand is that era had a strong tradition of oral history. Because most people were not literate as we would define it today, they had an amazing memory for passing things on orally. They could memorize amazing amount of information.

    The first epistles were probably written within ten years of the Resurrection. Many religion scholars theorize that among the many Christian doctrines circulating within the first few decades was one that was a compilation of quotes from Jesus that both Mark and Luke relied on to write their gospels, in addition to information about Jesus that they received third hand (Mark was a disciple of Paul) and second hand (Luke was a disciple of the Apostle Peter).

    We have more ancient copies of Christian scripture than most other ancient documents, including the works Aristotle. However, before the first letter of Christian scripture was written down, the Mass was already being celebrated in the same basic form it is celebrated today. As Scott Hahn points out in one of his books, the New Testament = the Resurrection = the Eucharist/Mass; later it became a compilation of writings to explain, express, and with which to celebrate it.

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    1. I think Mark was Peters guy and Luke was Paul mostly. I think

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  58. I sincerely appreciate your refreshing of my memory.

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  59. Becky …Wow!
    Bill said in regards to the resurrection ..” Has anyone thought about the logistics”

    Imagine God has a big thumb drive with the genetic codes for every human who ever lived. And a really high end Digital 3D printer. Considering he is the one who thought into existence the creature with the mind that could eventually figure that out that technology, could logistics really be a question? Really, I see technological advancement as greater prove of God not vice versus.

    Paul said..
    Margo...I knew a Lutheran pastor years ago who would say, "I believe in one, holy, Christian, and apostolic church"--which, of course, doesn't even convey the same meaning.

    Sorry , quick story: We were at a Lutheran graveside service once with about 70 people in attendance. This creed was part of the program and the most notable thing was our kids were kinda front and center and loudly belting out the creed as per their weekly routine. They were just about the only voices you could clearly hear among the mumbles…..” One, Holy, CATHOLIC, and Apostolic” hehehehe (note: high fives at a funeral, no matter what the reason, are not well received)

    Stacy said…
    Bill S, I'm at the point of no return. I've suffered, I've clung to faith, I've seen miracles, I rely on God more than I rely on air. I am more certain of God's grace and mercy than I am certain a ball will fall to the ground if I drop it. Just as I don't sit around wondering if the next ball will fall, I don't sit around doubting God anymore. I spend my time moving on. And it has nothing to do with pride. It has everything to do with sanity

    So well said and I too have clung to faith. As time and events pass, seeing little miracles and seeing the long view of lives around me, well, I’m officially in. My intellectual objections , even though they still seem to reflectively pop-up, get swatted away by the stunning evidence of divine orchestration of all things. Now I just look forward to the inevitable amazing answers.

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  60. Johanne, I second the Kreeft/Tacelli book. Also , reading other commenters from the period (church fathers like Polycarp, Justin, Irenaeus etc ) you find them accepting the same words and quotes as we see them today. I find it highly reliable to study the commentators that are closest to the time, culture and language in questions. Perhaps like reading the Federalist Papers to better understand the meaning of some Revolutionary’s quote. If they have accepted the quote and meaning, it should be reliable today.
    Also, Barbara C hits a great point about memory. Ancients considered an accurate, robust memory a big part of intelligence. They could memorize huge volumes of speech and considered accuracy , especially in intended meanings, to be the most important thing. Reading Augustine you realize his drawing on Socrates is from memory. He's wasn't googling quotes or breaking out scrolls. I remember reading about soldiers in the civil war being able to recite hours worth of books from memory. I think they just didn’t have the drooling ADHD TV dulled , microwaved brains we have today
    I can’t remember what else I was going to say

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  61. Imagine God has a big thumb drive with the genetic codes for every human who ever lived. And a really high end Digital 3D printer.

    Why is that easier to imagine than the whole proposition is just a come on to persuade people to believe? That is a natural explanation. Any natural explanation is infinitely more plausible than a supernatural one. Any rational mind comparing a natural explanation to a supernatural explanation is compelled to go with the natural.

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  62. I cannot find any account of Jesus promising a bodily resurrection. He promises the standard afterlife in heaven.

    The bodily resurrection is an invention of Paul. Here is one reference to it in Phillipians 3:18-21

    18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenshipd is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

    Was Paul infallible?

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  63. Bill,

    "Life and consciousness are not and may not ever be understood by science."

    Now that sounds suspiciously like an admission that we're not just an amalgam of our body parts and brain functions after all - for both those things are becoming eminently reproducible by science these days. In fact, it sounds like you have a hunch at least, that we're part mystery - as God, in whose image and likeness we're made is also largely ineffable Mystery. Despite the old Greek aphorism which urges man to "know thyself" we will never quite succeed in doing that fully this side of heaven - except for knowing what has been divinely revealed to us of ourselves - most eminently in Christ. In Him lies the fullness of both our identity and our nature. Only God, who created us, knows all of us. Which is precisely why St Paul says of the afterlife: "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Cor 13:12).

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  64. From Sheed's book, regarding the Church and Scripture, and to support Barbara's point above:

    The Apostles had gone; the Church remained; the New Testament remained. How early did they see the New Testament as Scripture, comparable with the Old? In 2 Peter 3:16, we find St. Paul's Epistle linked up with "the rest of the Scripture". But there seems to have been no instant recognition that there were now two Testaments...

    ...It probably dawned upon men only slowly that the Church had one more treasure - not only written by men close to Christ, but inspired by God, true Scripture.

    ...In the second half of the second century we get the inspiration of the new writing stated fairly clearly by St. Irenaeus. And in the document found by the Italian scholar Muratori we find practically the whole of our present New Testament listed. This takes us somewhere between 180 and 200; for our whole New Testament we must wait another century or more after that... There were now two, an infallible Church and an inspired New Testament. No one asked, Why two? - so clear was it that they were different ways of enriching men's contact with one same Redeemer and Teacher...


    From there, Sheed goes into sections on Inspiration and Scripture within the Church.

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  65. Bill,

    "I cannot find any account of Jesus promising a bodily resurrection."

    1. Jesus says: "I have come that they might have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Unlike angels, we humans aren't disembodied spirits. So if we are to have life to the full we'd necessarily have to have our bodies as well.

    2. Jesus says: "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." There you have it - the promise of bodily resurrection, in the midst of a discourse about flesh and blood, to boot!.

    You had a go at Pope Benedict the last time. Now you've graduated to taking pot shots at St Paul! You're a really brave fella, Bill! :)

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  66. In fact, it sounds like you have a hunch at least, that we're part mystery - as God, in whose image and likeness we're made is also largely ineffable Mystery.

    Because life and consciousness are still not completely understood, it is not proof of God. That is the God of the gaps fallacy.

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  67. You had a go at Pope Benedict the last time. Now you've graduated to taking pot shots at St Paul! You're a really brave fella, Bill! :)

    Then doubting Jesus' promise to raise people on the last day goes too far?

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  68. Johanne,

    "And all the people who had a hand in remembering, recording, and translating those words had powerful motivations.

    Pray, what were those motivations? Being fed to lions, torn asunder by wild beasts, speared, beheaded, scourged, crucified, or being smeared with tar, stuck on poles in the public square and burned alive as human torches? Methinks you have it exactly back to front! The early Christians had every motivation not to remember, record, translate or propagate the words of a poor, dangerous, radical, crucified carpenter from the seedy town of Nazareth! But they did. Even extremely learned men like St Paul did. Now.go.figure.

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  69. Bill,
    Bill,

    Because life and consciousness are still not completely understood...

    At the least that implies that they can or will be.

    Earlier you stated that they might not ever be (understood by science).

    So what is it? What is your belief?

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  70. So what is it? What is your belief?

    I believe that scientists might never be able to come up with a materialistic natural explanation for life and consciousness. But they will never throw in the towel and admit the existence of the supernatural because that would take away the incentive to keep exploring and studying life.

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  71. Being fed to lions, torn asunder by wild beasts, speared, beheaded, scourged, crucified, or being smeared with tar, stuck on poles in the public square and burned alive as human torches?

    You make it sound like that's what all Christians faced. I doubt it was more than a fraction of a percent that face such persecution.

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  72. Bill,

    I believe that scientists might never be able to come up with a materialistic natural explanation for life and consciousness. But they will never throw in the towel and admit the existence of the supernatural because that would take away the incentive to keep exploring and studying life.

    If that's true (that admission of the existence of the supernatural takes away the incentive to explore/study life) then why are countless Christians involved in all spheres of scientific endeavor - indeed, in many instances, leading it? Methinks you've fallen for the really silly modern fallacy, Bill, that science and faith/philosophy are opposed, or somehow negate each other. Rather, I'd submit that it's precisely the desire to explore and study life in all its aspects that gives rise to philosophy and theology - disciplines which address questions that science simply can't. It's this stupid new religion of scientism, in fact, that causes its adherents to flee from the most important questions about life, to bury their heads in the sand - because empirical evidence is seen by them as the only determinant of things, with no acknowledgement of things that are eminently knowable by reasoned proofs and rational deductions (not to mention divine revelation).

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    1. ... gives rise, alongside science, and complementing it, ...

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  73. Bill,

    You make it sound like that's what all Christians faced.

    Yes, Bill, pretty much all the earliest leaders of Christianity - those responsible for its development and propagation (whose motivations Johanne was referring to) - faced those fates. All the Apostles, for instance, suffered persecutions and ultimately death by martyrdom, except for St John. When you say you "doubt" such well established facts (of widespread persecution of early Christians), what it reveals is that you're not at all familiar with the history of the Church.

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  74. Bill

    "Because life and consciousness are still not completely understood, it is not proof of God. That is the God of the gaps fallacy."

    How long has it been since man has endeavored to understand life and consciousness and not fully succeeded? And how long do you reckon it might be before he does? Wait! You've actually admitted that he might never... by means of the sciences, anyway. So what happens now? Should we just forget about the most pressing questions in life (who am I? where did i come from? why am i here?) and just watch the football? If that's what you advocate, then why are you here - on this blog - for starters?

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  75. with no acknowledgement of things that are eminently knowable by reasoned proofs and rational deductions (not to mention divine revelation).

    I don't see scientists relying on divine revelation to study life and consciousness. I actually don't believe in divine revelation. It is really human imagination.


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  76. All the Apostles, for instance, suffered persecutions and ultimately death by martyrdom, except for St John.

    That is the stuff of legends. I can assure you that there never has been a time when more than one percent of the entire Christian population was persecuted. The stories are anecdotal and not indicative of any widespread trend.

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  77. Should we just forget about the most pressing questions in life (who am I? where did i come from? why am i here?)

    Religion doesn't even come close to answering those questions.

    why are you here - on this blog

    I get a lot out of this blog. Even some of it from you.

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    1. Having just entered a comment relating to the original posting of this blog, I just read through the running commentary here, and the point Bill raises: "Religion doesn't even come close to answering those questions."

      I can't explain why I disagree with that statement in a Tweet, but it does seem that Bill is an intelligent man, and perhaps even a well-read one. If so, I might suggest a reading of a book by Luigi Giussani titled: "Why the Church?" It doesn't answer your comment directly, but comes very close. And it does make you think. And it DOES answer the question: "Will science ever answer the question: Why am I here?

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  78. Yesterday, All Souls Day, I joined about 25 others from my parish who carried candles with our recently departed loved ones name on them up to the altar, processing with the priest at the start of mass. Our lit candles remained at the foot of the altar during mass, and each name was read during the petitions. It was one of the best All Soul's Day masses I ever attended.

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  79. Actually, Catholicism does answer those pressing questions through the dynamic duo of faith and reason. Just because you disagree with the answers does not change the fact that there are answers.

    Oh and here's just a partial list of men and women who gave up their lives for Christ also known as Martyrs: http://www.catholic.org/saints/martyr.php

    And here are some from the 20th century: http://visnews-en.blogspot.com/2013/03/promulgation-of-decrees-by-congregation.html

    Yes, Bill, there are countless men and women who truly died for Jesus Christ and His Truth. Us Catholics prefer death to denying Christ or any of His Teachings. That's how much we love Him, as much as He loved us when He gave His life in the Crucifixion.

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  80. Bill S 'nature has always existed'.
    Then it is not nature. Nature, from ‘natus’ a word meaning birth. Thus to be natural is to have had a beginning, a ‘birth’.

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  81. Will science ever answer the question: Why am I here?

    "Why" is not a relevant question to scientists. Science can try to answer "how" but there is no purpose and therefore no "why". Catholics believe that we are here because God created us to be with him in heaven.

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  82. there are countless men and women who truly died for Jesus Christ and His Truth. Us Catholics prefer death to denying Christ or any of His Teachings.

    We don't really know what truly are the teachings of Jesus. The book of Mark was written some thirty years after his death and the other Gospel writers used it to write their books.

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  83. Reasoning, Bill. Think it through. Look at the Teachings objectively, without emotion. For example, can it be reasoned that Christ taught that we should all do whatever makes us happy/gives us pleasure? Or that He taught that two men or two women should be married, even though it goes against the whole point of there being two genders.

    Even if you just look at the events of Christ's life, they clearly show that sacrifice and self denial were necessary to following Him. His way of life clearly showed that this life is not about pleasure, although, pleasure might be a byproduct of our actions. We should do everything out of love for God and His people.

    For example, I participate in these discussions because I desire to lead others to Christ and He has given me the passion and knowledge of Himself and His teachings. What's the point of keeping that knowledge to myself? God is far too wonderful not to be shared and once you realize how worth it it is to suffer and sacrifice, it becomes easier to trust Him and follow Him.

    Why not trust that Jesus is God?

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  84. Bill S 'nature has always existed'.
    Then it is not nature. Nature, from ‘natus’ a word meaning birth. Thus to be natural is to have had a beginning, a ‘birth’.


    Ok. Then let's say that Nature has existed since the Big Bang.

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  85. For example, can it be reasoned that Christ taught that we should all do whatever makes us happy/gives us pleasure?

    Margo,

    Are you suggesting that we shouldn't strive for happiness and enjoy life. Don't you think you should do more of that and less obsessing about Jesus?

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  86. Why not strive for happiness according to Jesus' standards? Our hearts were made by God and for God, thus God is the only thing that will ever truly satisfy us with His infinite love.

    Read the lives of any of the Saints. They were all quite happy and enjoyed life while living completely for Christ.

    I personally know how difficult it can seem at first. To give up earthly pleasures to which you've grown accustomed and have provided comfort? Yet, when we give everything up for Christ, He gives us true fulfillment, far more wonderful than anything here on Earth.

    What's holding you back, Bill? Are you really that concerned about earthly pleasures? What if Jesus could give you more happiness than you have ever known?

    I mean, look at Leila and her family. You yourself have even commented on how well Catholicism worked for them. Why not let Christ do the same for you?

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  87. Yet, when we give everything up for Christ, He gives us true fulfillment, far more wonderful than anything here on Earth.

    Well said. But I have to be true to what I believe, which is that there is no supernatural anything. I know of no reliable evidence to the contrary.

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  88. *sigh* Bill, there's countless evidence for the Divinity of Jesus. Do you want Him to be Divine? What is bothering you about the supernatural, existence of God, Divinity of Christ? There IS evidence, you just have to want to find it and to truly desire the gift of faith.

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  89. there's countless evidence for the Divinity of Jesus.

    If there were, then scientists would use it to prove that what you believe is true. We actually wouldn't need faith because we would have proof.

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  90. Okay, so let me make sure I have this right. You only want hard, tangible, visible proof of Christ's Divinity? You do not desire for Jesus to give you the gift of faith?

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  91. You do not desire for Jesus to give you the gift of faith?

    But you just said there is evidence. I would much prefer to know something based on evidence than on faith. How is faith a gift?

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  92. The Bible itself is evidence for the Divinity of Christ, yet you seem to be rejecting that as a source of evidence. By gift, I mean, something that is given by God to those who ask for it. If you genuinely want to know Jesus, ask Him for faith.

    Want more evidence? Read about the Saints who had faith and believed in the supernatural God. Look up the various Eucharistic miracles that have occurred throughout history. Read through the Catechism, browse Catholic.com, read through Leila's posts on here, read some C.S. Lewis, the list is endless. Pray. Read. Learn. Love.

    It's disrespectful to Jesus to acknowledge Him and put your trust in Him, while at the same time, denying His Divinity. If Jesus wasn't Divine, then He was a deranged liar in whom no one should place their trust.

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  93. Bill,

    You're now making so many ridiculous statements I'm convinced you're just bored or lonely or something and are here only to shoot the wind and waste plenty of everybody's precious time. So I'm going to drop out of this conversation until you can prove that you're sincerely seeking adult dialogue about anything at all.

    "I don't see scientists relying on divine revelation to study life and consciousness."

    A scientist relying on divine revelation to understand life and consciousness would be like me trying to learn to cook chicken from my dog. So what was your point - if indeed you were trying to make one? I'm not a scientist (I'd suggest you aren't one either). And I thank God that neither the scientist nor I am restricted to knowing about a whole plethora of things only through science. Only you've put that limitation on yourself, it would seem. And you have fallen for the fallacy of stupid scientism - that science trumps or negates all other disciplines of study, knowledge and discernment. Unfortunately, no one other than God can free you from the chains you insist on binding your intellect in.

    "I actually don't believe in divine revelation. It is really human imagination."

    So, instead of saying "Jesus, I trust in You!" you might as well say "Tintin, I trust in you!", right? Same thing, right? Both being fictions of our overworked imaginations, right? Neither of them being supernaturally powerful or trustworthy, right? Your actions contradict your words, Bill.

    "I can assure you that there never has been a time when more than one percent of the entire Christian population was persecuted.

    How are you qualified to assure me of this? Were you there? Is time travel one of your skills? Did you do the math? All you're doing with ridiculous pronouncements like this is confirming my earlier charge that you aren't even vaguely familiar with the actual history of the early Church (which has been well documented even by secular authorities) and instead choose to simply make it up as you go. That's a terribly lazy and irresponsible practice if you wish to engage in meaningful debate with anyone about anything - and a mark of crass disrespect for your interlocutors here.

    "Religion doesn't even come close to answering those questions."

    Religion does precisely that, and that's not going to change just because Bill S said so.

    "... there is no purpose and therefore no "why"..."

    If there is indeed no purpose to life why expend months of your time and energy on discussions dedicated precisely to that subject? Shouldn't you have been on your purposeless merry way to someplace else by now? Updating your knowledge of useful atheism or scientism perhaps? Again I say, your actions patently contradict your words.

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  94. The Bible itself is evidence for the Divinity of Christ, yet you seem to be rejecting that as a source of evidence.

    The Bible was written by men a long time ago. It makes claims but does not provide evidence to back up those claims.

    I will stop saying "Jesus, I trust in you" if it bothers you so much.

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  95. Well, why trust in someone if you doubt their true identity? You may not create a false notion of Jesus. Why are you so convinced that the Bible is not to be trusted? What is with all the cynicism? And why are you still here discussing Jesus and Catholicism if you are so convinced that it is all imaginative?

    Francis, Leila, Nubby, myself, and others are all trying to help you here. Do you want to find Truth, Bill? Do you want to understand Catholicism? Then, please, actually read and give some consideration to what we are writing and communicating to you.

    Give this article a read if you're interested in physical evidence of Christ's Divinity: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/physician-tells-of-eucharistic-miracle-of-lanciano

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  96. I admit that there are many things that Catholics believe that I don't. One reason I continue to say "Jesus, I trust in you" is that I believe that Sister Faustina experienced something very real to her. So, I hold on to that simple practice and trust that the rest will work itself out. I'm sorry if my questioning leads people to get frustrated with me. I can't believe things that I know are not true.

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  97. Are you absolutely sure they are not true? Or do you not want it to be true? There is a difference.

    And what Sr. Faustina experienced and wrote extensively about is true for EVERYONE.

    Catholicism is true for everyone, not just for those who believe it.

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  98. And Catholicism is all or nothing. You either believe everything, which the Church teaches to be True or you don't. It is not a wishy-washy religion where you change it to suit your desires. We conform to Christ and His way. He does not conform to us.

    Do you want to get to know Jesus better?

    And I'm frustrated because it saddens me to see anyone willfully reject the infinite love, mercy, and graces that Jesus has for them.

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  99. I know there's pain
    Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?
    No one can change your life except for you
    Don't ever let anyone step all over you
    Just open your heart and your mind.

    Don't you know things can change
    Things'll go your way
    If you hold on for one more day
    Can't you change it this time?

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  100. And Catholicism is all or nothing. You either believe everything, which the Church teaches to be True or you don't.

    Well, I don't. That's a no brainer.

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  101. "I'm sorry if my questioning leads people to get frustrated with me."

    That's just sentimental nonsense, Bill. If you've ever actually asked a question in this forum, (and actually shown any interest in the answer to it), I, for one, have missed it. No, you don't ask questions. You just make bland statements rejecting everything that's proposed to you (based on our best guesses of what it is you're trying to ascertain). Your responses repeatedly portray you as a know-it-all, who is in no need to consider/learn anything new. Yet when you reject anything that's proposed to you, you do so out of hand, without any scholarly justification or reference to any authority or historical source whatsoever. Most things you say boil down merely to your own personal opinions - no matter how outlandish. One could scroll through this blog and readily find a score of questions you've been asked - over and over again, by Leila, for instance, and quite directly and simply too - which you've never cared to respond to, except by way of some vague, tangential comment. All of which throws extreme doubt on your motivations for being here and/or your sincerity in engaging on anything of substance. It looks suspiciously to me like you imagine we're all here simply for your constant amusement, to fill some empty hours for you. You can start to prove me wrong by going back, locating, and addressing in a meaningful way some of the questions that have been asked of you to date. Or you can actually ask a question, instead of providing even more vapid commentary.

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  102. Francis,

    I didn't say I was asking questions. I am questioning Catholic teachings. That doesn't involve asking questions.

    As far as answering questions, I've done my best to answer them sometimes stating the question first and providing my answers.

    I've lost interest in Catholicism. I should stop now before I really start dissing it, which would be highly inappropriate for this site.

    It's a worldview that works very well for some but it's not for me. It's getting late and I have to be up early tomorrow.

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  103. "I've lost interest in Catholicism."

    Bill, nothing I've read from you over these past several months has convinced me that you were ever actually seriously interested in exploring Catholicism. And you've already done enough already to diss (albeit mostly in polite terms) just about every aspect of it that's been presented for your consideration. So yeah, you might try engaging for a while with some other ism(s) that make(s) more sense to you. I too did a whole lot of that at one time - toyed with all manner of isms - until I finally arrived at Catholicism, where I have found God's peace. Lots of us have to undertake the same tortuous journey, I guess, before we arrive at enduring truth. You can always come back here if you find yourself sincerely interested in our take on matters of Faith and/or the big questions of life. Take care meanwhile.

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  104. Bill, nothing I've read from you over these past several months has convinced me that you were ever actually seriously interested in exploring Catholicism.

    Francis,

    I have explored Catholicism. I just haven't found it to be what it claims to be. I am still interested in having a personal relation with Jesus because he is the most influential person in the history of the world. Even if it turns out that he is long dead and gone, he resides in my consciousness and in the consciousness of you and every other person who thinks of him as a model for humans to imitate and emulate. Yes. The Church has kept his memory alive and the world should be grateful for that. But the Church has sort of hijacked Jesus and claimed exclusive access to him. That part I don't buy. There is no need to take a great man and turn him into a god. There is no need to claim to be his mouthpiece and interpreter.

    Don't accuse me of not having had any interest in Catholicism now that I have lost it. Who doesn't have interest in it at some point of one's life. It's kind of hard to ignore. :-)

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  105. Bill,

    "... the Church has sort of hijacked Jesus and claimed exclusive access to him. That part I don't buy.

    The Church doesn't claim exclusive access to Jesus. You are mistaken in that belief - another product, I suppose, of your shotgun approach to Christianity. The Church does have the fullness of faith in Him though, as a community of believers understanding Him better than any man can do individually. That's because Jesus Himself (necessarily) founded the Church and promised to lead it through His own Spirit, into all truth.

    I've wondered at times what the "S" stood for in Bill S. Now I think I might think of you as Bill Saul, because you remind me of St Paul while he was still Saul. He persecuted the Church, as you do with your dismissive/disdainful remarks about all things Catholic, until Jesus Himself knocked him off his high horse and led him straight into the heart of - horror or horrors! - the Church! Praise God he then became one of her greatest Apostles. Let's see what the same Jesus has planned for you - something similarly good no doubt, despite your current obstinate resistance to His call to believe in Him and respond to His love and mercy.

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  106. He knows where to find me.

    I trust in him, whether he turns out to be real or just imaginary. I'm not too proud to risk having believed in him though he doesn't really exist.

    That's as much faith as I can muster up right now. I'm open to his mercy.

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  107. Bill,

    "I'm open to his mercy."

    That's all it takes mostly, Bill. Just plain old openness. It never killed anybody, but has instead brought millions into the comforting embrace of Faith, Hope, Love, Mercy, Peace, Joy and Eternal Life - personified. So yeah, stay open and you will behold for yourself the goodness of the Lord. (I reckon you've already had a preliminary glimpse of it recently).

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  108. Faith, Hope, Love, Mercy, Peace, Joy and Eternal Life - personified.

    Sounds good to me. You're making me an offer I can't refuse. I'll take it.

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  109. Johanne, here is a good link to the question you posed about the reliability of Scripture, and the link within the article leads to more extensive analysis:

    http://www.catholiccommentaryonsacredscripture.com/2012/03/22/why-you-can-trust-the-text-of-the-new-testament/

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  110. Bill, how do you know that Jesus was a "great man"?

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  111. Bill, how do you know that Jesus was a "great man"?

    By the fruits of his ministry. He sent disciples out in pairs to teach about "the Kingdom" and his message spread eventually to most of the world and is still spreading. He presented the concept of a Heavenly Father that was far more effective than any prior concept. He developed a belief system based on doing good in this life and enjoying an eternal reward in the next. He taught people to love their enemies, etc. Of course he is the greatest person that ever lived.

    Why do you ask?

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  112. http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/are-the-gospels-myth

    This article is excellent.

    Johanne, if you're lacking time to read all of it, just scroll down to the section on Historical Evidence and all that follows.

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  113. That was interesting, Nubby. thanks.

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  114. You bet - anytime.

    I'm curious of your personal thoughts on the evidence mentioned. Does it shed any light on the doubts you had/have about there being any human motives or motivations you mentioned previously? Do you still feel it's a false gospel message based on method?

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  115. Bill -- Doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. Oftentimes, it is part and parcel of our faith, especially since we do not have the concrete experience that St. Thomas the Apostle had of putting his fingers in the nail marks in Jesus' palms. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I sense a nagging kernel of faith in your words, whether you are aware of it or not. You say you are open to mercy. You also say you trust in Jesus. That is significant. One of my favorite authors, Flannery O' Connor said, “Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty.” I will be praying for you.

    Francis -- I just about choked on my coffee when you started quoting Wilson Phillips. Thanks for that: now that darn song is stuck in my head!

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  116. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I sense a nagging kernel of faith in your words, whether you are aware of it or not.

    I'm open to the truth. But I'm not placing blind faith in anything.

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  117. Bill, I ask why you think Jesus is a great man, because you said this:

    "The Bible was written by men a long time ago. It makes claims but does not provide evidence to back up those claims."

    Where are you getting evidence that Jesus was a great man?

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  118. Oh! I think I get it!

    Bill, is it that you trust that Jesus' actions occurred, but not what He said? You like how Jesus acted towards others, but you don't think He ever said He was God or that we must take up our cross in order to follow Him? You don't like the sacrificial part of Jesus, right? It's all just supposed to be pleasure & happiness with Jesus?

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  119. The best litmus test for separating the pepper from the fly crap is a 50-50 deduction test. True/False.

    True/False - there exists historical evidence supporting Christianity?
    True/False- gospel history, based on scholarly research, is valid and fully supports the events, time, and persons involved in its claims?
    True/False- there exists a shred of archaeological evidence to the contrary of the resurrection?

    Make a list. Tick them as you go. Funnel down your reasoning by deduction instead of grasping upward at generalizations.

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  120. Where are you getting evidence that Jesus was a great man?

    The followers of Jesus started what grew into the biggest and best religion in the world. He had to be a great person. It is not that difficult for me to believe the natural aspects of his life reported in the gospels. The supernatural aspects are another story.

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  121. If you can trust the documentation to be reliable in painting Christ as a "great person", then you can trust those same documents to be reliable in painting Christ as divine. That would be perfectly logical. You'd be measuring with the exact same yard stick.

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  122. You like how Jesus acted towards others, but you don't think He ever said He was God or that we must take up our cross in order to follow Him?

    He hadn't been crucified yet so why would he tell people to take up their cross when he had not taken up his yet. Did he foresee taking up a cross?

    It is easier to believe natural things about Jesus than supernatural things such as foreseeing the method of his execution. I don't think he intentionally got himself executed for the redemption of sins like a lamb on an altar. I think that reason was conjured up till later as a way of making it look like he planned it that way and for that purpose.

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  123. I think that reason was conjured up till later as a way of making it look like he planned it that way and for that purpose"

    Based on what evidence?
    For what gain?
    Is God a deceiver?

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  124. If you can trust the documentation to be reliable in painting Christ as a "great person", then you can trust those same documents to be reliable in painting Christ as divine.

    Being a great person is natural. Being divine is supernatural. It is much easier to believe in the natural than in the supernatural that doesn't exist according to my worldview.

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  125. Logically, why does a man "conjure up" an idea or portrayal of a sacrifice, an extremely tortuous death of his own? What would he gain? Not followers. He'd be dead.

    Was he hoping to deceive people for .... money? For fame? For ______
    Assigning motives that are certainly absent from the documents you claim to accept is a logical contradiction.

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  126. I'm not talking about what is easier. I'm talking about your measurement. What are you using as your standard to make concrete decisions about Christ, who He is/was, etc. Logic.

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  127. I can't speak for others- but I personally don't walk walk around with stars in my eyes thinking that the gospel is easy to follow, and therefore, that's why I follow it.

    I follow it because the documentation historically says >>> Yes. Said Person existed. Said Person has "X" number of documents supporting his life, time, cultural experience,death, and resurrection.

    I follow that Logic which leads me to Faith. They go together. They are not rivals. If A then B.

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  128. Was he hoping to deceive people for .... money? For fame? For ______

    Nubby,

    I don't believe that Jesus tried to deceive anyone. I believe that the writers of the gospels kind of retrofitted his execution and turned it into an intentional sacrifice for our redemption to fulfill the concept of the sacrificial lamb that the people of that culture offered for forgiveness of their sins. I don't believe that was his intent. I'm sorry. I'm just telling you what I believe.

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  129. I understand, Bill. I'm not offended in the least. Believe me. I enjoy this.
    Why would they reconstruct what Jesus said, taught, or did? Just spinning my wheels with you here, aloud. Why? For what gain? And how/why would it last 2,000 yrs?

    If it was BS wouldn't people eventually see through this? Would documentation crop up at some point and prove this all wrong?

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  130. Logical question:
    What is the number of documents supporting the textbooks you learned from in school?

    Versus- the number of documents supporting the authenticity of Christ's life and the gospel message, the event of the the Resurrection?

    Yet we accept textbooks in school as truth?

    To boot, the evidence documents for your own opinion above equals exactly zero.

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  131. * skip a "the"
    ** the evidence or supporting documents for your own ...

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  132. Why would they reconstruct what Jesus said, taught, or did?

    Some 30 years after Jesus' death, Mark sat down and wrote a story. It might all be true or it may all be fiction. I believe it is mostly true except for the supernatural parts. I just don't believe in the supernatural. It is my policy. :-)

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  133. Based on what?
    By what evidence do you grant yourself an "out" for taking in the whole of divinity?
    Evidence, please.

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  134. Because of "30" years? You do realize what a short amount of time it was for oral tradition to pass, at that time, in that culture, correct?

    The method was not a game of telephone as our "enlightened" professors touted from the late 18th century on to today. Oh, no, no, no. Wrong model.

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  135. The method was not a game of telephone as our "enlightened" professors touted from the late 18th century on to today.

    They didn't have telephones in the 18th century ;-)

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  136. What does Mark have to gain by including a lie about Christ's divinity? If he wanted to write a cushy story about some great guy named Jesus, nothing was stopping him. He could've went that route easily and maybe would have had success.

    Fact: his documents contain supernatural events and occurrences.
    Fact:his documents created a problem for himself with a very hostile government and religious reign of the time.

    The fact is, if it wasn't true, he was not too bright in conjuring up some pretty uncomfortable circumstances for himself and for those who might believe his writings.

    On what logical grounds do you posit an argument for dismissing the gospel of Mark? On what historical grounds? On what archaeological grounds?

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  137. I said a "game" of telephone.
    If you are claiming a miss-match in facts due to a verbal mis-communication back in Jesus' day, then you are using the incorrect historical model or idea of what Oral Tradition was.

    This is essential for anyone who seriously ponders the gospels to grasp.

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  138. * mismatch

    what even, what - with these typos

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  139. On what logical grounds do you posit an argument for dismissing the gospel of Mark? On what historical grounds? On what archaeological grounds?

    All I can say is that I am willing to accept the gospels as useful stories whether they be factual or fictional. I do not accept any supernatural events as factual. It's just the way I see things. Others are free to see things their way.

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  140. Logical question:
    How can you accept the gospels as "useful" if they are fictional?
    If fictional, then = crap. Throw it out. Why take anything from junk?
    If factual, then = all included in it is true.

    Am I right? Or am I erroneous in my reasoning?

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  141. Well. The parables are not true stories and they are useful, no? The gospels have been useful for two millennia. Do they have to be totally factual to have been useful?

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  142. Parables are true as far as the fact that they are recorded as evidence from Christ's mouth.
    Parables are true as far as they expound on a Divine Truth.
    Parables aren't fictional as far as two genres go.

    Logic.

    The gospels, of course, must be true totally - or we are believing in nonsense. We are living an Easter lie, essentially, then, correct?

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  143. Logically - you cannot extrapolate the fact that Christ used hyperbole or parables or other instruction and derive from that, that somehow the gospels are false.

    Conflating modes of communication with Revealed Truth does not = anything for a logical dismissal of Mark's gospel.

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  144. The gospels, of course, must be true totally - or we are believing in nonsense. We are living an Easter lie, essentially, then, correct?

    All is not lost if everything in the gospels is not entirely factual. There is enough wisdom in the gospels even if references to the supernatural were to be removed as Thomas Jefferson did.

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  145. Bill, I want to know the real reason you don't believe in the supernatural? Why are you so closed to the possibility? Are you worried about what it means for Jesus to be God? Do you not want certain teachings to be true? What is really going on?

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  146. Logic disagrees with you.
    Everything is to be lost if the gospel message of Christ's miraculous conception, incarnation, birth, life, ministry, miracles, death and resurrection are false.

    The gospels record an event.
    Not just wisdom.

    One can read mere philosophers for wisdom.

    On what logical, historical, or archaeological grounds do you dismiss the supernatural as recorded in the gospels?

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  147. If you are talking to details that differentiate between gospels, that is not a problem for logic of the gospel message. In fact, inconsistencies in the minute details give strength to the Christian truth and historical claims.

    If you're arguing that supernatural claims aren't true, but don't matter anyway, then you are barking up a completely different tree. And that's what I am arguing. Supernatural claims are everything. Otherwise, I'm pretty damn dumb for buying into the belief of this resurrection bit, and constructing my life around its Founder.

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  148. Is it the right thing to do because God said so? Or did God say so because it is the right thing to do?

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  149. Captcrisis, that question smacks of the idea that God is simply "the biggest being in the room" who has an opinion and/or has been set up as an authority figure or something. But God is Truth (literally in essence), so we operate under a different paradigm.

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  150. Bill, I want to know the real reason you don't believe in the supernatural?

    Something that is both impossible and unproven has two strikes against it. How is it that scientists have yet been able to prove the existence of the supernatural?

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  151. Everything is to be lost if the gospel message of Christ's miraculous conception, incarnation, birth, life, ministry, miracles, death and resurrection are false.

    Well, we have the gospels to thank for western civilization whether they are historically accurate or not. It is possible for people to make a transition from believing that everything is literally true to appreciating all of the good that has come from the life of Jesus. We owe it to him to make him part of our lives in any way we can. He lives in the deepest recesses of our minds and many of us would be lost without him. That is the best that I can do in terms of faith at the present time. I know that is not enough for hard core Christians, but I have to keep it real.

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  152. On what logical, historical, or archaeological grounds do you dismiss the supernatural as recorded in the gospels?

    The reason that I am not afraid to board an airplane is that I have 100% confidence that the plane will be subject to the laws of physics. There has never been an instance where the laws of physics were violated causing a plane to crash or disappear. Even in the Bermuda Triangle.

    It is the constancy of the laws of nature that enables us to make predictions about most things based on empirical data. Any report of a violation of a law of nature must be false. There is zero probability of it being true.

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  153. Bill, I encourage you once more to read CS Lewis' "Miracles", which examines on purely logical grounds whether it is rational to allow for (or categorically dismiss, as you do) supernatural phenomena. Not whether any specific supernatural phenomenon has indeed occurred, but simply whether it is rational to allow for the possibility of such. Indeed whether it is more rational to believe or disbelieve in the possibility of supernatural phenomena.

    I know how PREPOSTEROUS this may sound to you, but give it a try and let me know. Lewis was anything but a simpleton. It's a fascinating read.

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  154. Sebastian,

    I do believe that it is rational to believe in the supernatural. Based on my own experiences alone, I would consider it rational to believe. I've just made a conscious decision to put total confidence in the laws of nature. I will never throw a ball in the air thinking that just one time, the law of gravity will be suspended and the ball will continue going up and will go off into space. In the same vein, I will evaluate everything told to me and will discard anything that does not comply with the laws of nature. Lewis would see that as irrational.

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  155. "It is the constancy of the laws of nature that enables us to make predictions about most things based on empirical data. Any report of a violation of a law of nature must be false. There is zero probability of it being true."

    Incorrect criteria leading to incorrect conclusion.
    Attempting to apply a natural explanation (physics) to a supernatural event (miracle) is an incorrect apprehension of the term and of the event itself. "Super" is not bound by natural, hence the completely different term.

    I asked on what logical, historical, archaeological grounds - as in, heavily documented rebuttals accepted world over, or arguments from history and present day scholarship that refute the Resurrection?

    'Heavily documented', being the key phrase; as in, the heavily documented proof of over 10,000 documents, some even full manuscripts, (and then some) supporting the validity of the gospels.

    "That is the best that I can do in terms of faith at the present time. I know that is not enough for hard core Christians, but I have to keep it real."

    It's not that "it's not enough" of an answer because I'm a, as you say, "hard core Christian". It's that the logic doesn't satisfy. My faith component isn't the driving factor in the thought process here.

    Not interested in what "good" Christianity has "done for the west" if it's all a joke, a lie, a conspiracy. If I'm hanging my hat on a lie, I'd like to see the logical, documented proof. Today, I'm going the way of documented proof which is overwhelmingly in favor of the gospel event(s). That's called keeping it real.

    Where's your scholarly documentation that supports your decision to dismiss Christ's miracles?

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  156. But God is Truth (literally in essence), so we operate under a different paradigm.

    The "Truth" with the capital "T" seems to include just about everything that nonbelievers do not believe. Is it all truth, including the obvious things that are true, or is it the truth that Christians hold as being over and above what is commonly accepted as being true?

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  157. It's about a revealed truth that includes a moral hook. It's the moral hook people detest. But it's not a fictional moral hook. If Christ lived, suffered, died, and rose again, I'll bet he meant what he said while alive. If it truly happened, is fully supported as having happened, then it can be trusted. Logically.

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  158. Nubby. Don't think that I am sitting here fat, dumb and happy believing that the laws of nature cannot be violated. And don't think I am going to do extensive research to prove my stand right to you. It's not the "good news" and I don't want it to be true any more than you do.

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  159. It shouldn't take "extensive research" to point to if the Resurrection didn't occur. There should be piles of evidence proving it false sitting in plain light of day. Where is it?

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  160. Nubby,

    Nobody can prove that the Resurrection didn't happen. Can you prove that the prophet Mohammed wasn't transported to heaven on a flying horse as his followers believe?

    I am not arguing with you as to what is or isn't true. I am just stating what I believe. If it is troubling you, how do you think I feel. I'd thank you if you could prove me wrong.

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  161. I do believe that it is rational to believe in the supernatural. Based on my own experiences alone, I would consider it rational to believe. I've just made a conscious decision to put total confidence in the laws of nature.

    I guess before continuing this discussion you'd have to provide me with your definition of rational and laws of nature.

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  162. Rational: adjective 1. agreeable to reason ; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development. 2. having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense.

    Do you really need me to discuss the laws of nature. Let's make it simple and say the law of gravity cannot be violated. Eg. I can't levitate.

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  163. Sure, people could've easily refuted the Resurrection. There was a plethora of people hoping to prove this Jesus guy as false. There was all kinds of motivation to grab one shred of evidence proving him a fake, a lunatic, a liar. Where is it?

    Not troubled at all. I wading through the thought tank of logic a to logic b. It's rather cut and dry to me. If a, then b. If b, then c. If there's a fork in the road based on evidence, what's the next logical step?

    That's the only reason I chime in. It has nothing to do with faith mostly, because that is solid. It has to do with the reasoning on how people approach a concrete decision that is completely dismissive of reliable historical evidence.

    I see we're at a logical impasse again. Have a nice day.

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  164. There was all kinds of motivation to grab one shred of evidence proving him a fake, a lunatic, a liar. Where is it?

    I doubt that a nonbeliever would go through great pains to record it and pass it on for generations so that we could access it on the internet.

    Pleasure. You have a good day too.

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  165. Miracles Around Us

    So often egotistic, short sighted man precociously aggrandizes himself and his infinitesimal achievements, when, in reality, it is only the providential love of God that makes all things (like an "impossibly" complex and "incredibly" ordered universe) possible. It's really, really silly to pretend we're gods unto ourselves - and even sillier to imagine that "nature" is its own Creator and ours.

    All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
    The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
    What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
    Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
    It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.

    [Ecclesiastes1: 8-10]

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  166. Ok then, how is it agreeable to reason, in your view, to believe in supernatural events? You say it is rational, but you dismiss any of it. How does that compute?

    Regarding the laws of nature - this universe we live in is much weirder and more fantastic than many imagine. You do realize that at subatomic level Newtonian physics do not apply anymore (physicists among you, please call me out if I'm wrong or insufficiently precise, this is not my domain!). What happens there is not what is commonly understood as laws of nature. You might say indeed there is an infinitesimal small chance of the ball thrown up in the air dissolving before hitting the ground again. But that is not my point. The point is, don't hang your existence on something as flimsy as what you understand to be the laws of nature. And as Nubby alluded to, the supernatural by definition is not subject to the laws of nature. The Law-Giver intervening is by definition possible. In fact, He would not even be violating any laws of nature. He would use them for His own purposes, and in ways not always understood by us.

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  167. and even sillier to imagine that "nature" is its own Creator and ours

    Francis,

    What do we know about the Creator? And how did we come to know it?

    What time is it where you are?

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  168. Ok then, how is it agreeable to reason, in your view, to believe in supernatural events?

    When a cancer disappears for no medically explainable reason, it is agreeable to reason to assume that a miracle has occurred. It is rational, but I just choose not to factor it into my worldview for personal reasons. I just don't want to have to think that way. It is too unpredictable and won't get me anywhere.

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  169. That's great then, Bill. Truth as we want/choose it to be, not as it is. Not how I wish to live my life. I'd rather find truth and then do my best (well, trying...) to accept and conform to it, rather than blocking it from my view because it inconveniences me. Especially if the truth is, in the end, pure love. But it takes a little while, and not a little pain, to discover that.

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  170. "I can't levitate."

    That's right, Bill - you and I can't levitate. (Not yet anyway! :)) But many, many saints have done that during spiritual ecstasies. Throughout the ages these extra-ordinary men and women have led to the Faith countless people who have experienced their holiness and/or miraculous powers first hand.

    At the other end of the spectrum, many people possessed by the devil levitate too! A priest I knew, who was an exorcist, once told me - surprisingly matter of factly - that when he entered the room of a little girl who was possessed, she straight away flew to the top of a cupboard, and that it took the strenuous efforts of several adults to pull her down! If you met this priest, who I knew intimately for many years, you'd find him to be an absolutely normal, rational, ordinary, down to earth (no pun intended!) bloke like you and me. He never even talked about his 'special ministry' (let alone dramatize it) except on some rare occasion with a close friend (like me). Indeed, you'd never ever guess he was an exorcist were it not disclosed to you... There's more wild and wonderful phenomena in this teeming world of ours than most of us will discover living in a small, sanitized and secluded circle!

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  171. Bill, it's 1:30 in the morning here. I'm mostly a nocturnal animal.

    We'll talk about the Creator soon. But first I have something to say regarding "truth". Gotta fix a coffee first though.

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  172. I'd rather find truth and then do my best (well, trying...) to accept and conform to it,

    Yes. By all means. That's what everyone should want. That's why it is oh sooo difficult to trust the Catholic Church and its claim to be the keeper of the "Truth". I would rather recite "Jesus, I trust in you" and let the real truth manifest itself in whatever way it will.

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  173. As you know, we believe that the Church, instituted directly by Jesus, is Christ's Bride, and that the Church's dogmatic teachings authentically express the Holy Spirit's, Who is the one true God with the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. That's why it is not at all "difficult to trust the Catholic Church and its claim to be the keeper of Truth".

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  174. "I would rather recite "Jesus, I trust in you" and let the real truth manifest itself in whatever way it will."

    Is it at all possible, Bill, that because you've taken a chance and recited those words, the "real truth" might, in fact, be attempting to manifest itself - whoops, Himself - to you right here and right now, via the Little Bubble? Could that be a possibility? :)

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  175. she straight away flew to the top of a cupboard, and that it took the strenuous efforts of several adults to pull her down!
    she straight away flew to the top of a cupboard, and that it took the strenuous efforts of several adults to pull her down!
    There is a natural and supernatural explanation. The probability of the natural explanation is much, much higher, even if it is that the priest is lying or delusional. Sorry. I am only reporting to you the probabilities (in a know-it-all manner, I admit). With those odds, it would certainly be a life changing experience if I knew for certain that it were true. Oh, you could be lying too. That is also a natural explanation :-).

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  176. Francis,

    It certainly looks that way. Thanks for the insight.

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  177. Sebastian,

    The Church is the keeper of the Truth because the Church says that it is the keeper of the Truth and it must be true because the Church says that it is?

    That is like the ad where the Verizon customer asks the Xfinity customer: "Xfinity says that Xfinity is the best?"

    You sound like the Xfinity customer:-)

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  178. "... it would certainly be a life changing experience if I knew for certain that it were true."

    Bill, how much in depth investigating have you done of the miracles (ever occurring) in the Catholic Church? Miraculous cures (documented, inspected and verified by independent and undoubted medical experts), incorrupt bodies of saints (on public display, dug up out of the ground even after decades!), Eucharistic miracles, the mysterious Shroud of Turin, the amazing image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (all of which have been subjected to extensive independent scientific analysis, some using the latest investigative technologies) yet defying "natural" explanation...? But first of all, starting with the resurrection of Jesus, as Nubby and others keep pointing out... as, indeed, St Paul also points out, saying that if Jesus didn't, in fact, rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain.

    A lot of things you say, Bill, seem to smack of a lack of real research, investigative endeavor and/or intellectual rigor. Rather, I suspect it's mostly (poorly informed) reasoning or biases on your part that give rise to your marked cynicism about most things except the blindingly obvious. Perhaps it's time to open your mind a little more, Bill, even if, like a scientist, totally dispassionately! Assume the honesty, consider the witness, and accept the bona fide of countless others a little more! Lady Understanding has a tough time, I'm told, entering tightly sealed rooms!

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  179. Maybe, Bill, you should investigate modern-day miracles:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0-Aov9QTDI

    Glad you all have the energy to keep talking to Bill, because I am spent. We go round and round. I hope if nothing else, the lurkers are getting something out of it.

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  180. No Bill, it is because I, like you, trust in Jesus. Jesus Who founded this Church and vested it with its authority. Jesus Who said I will be with you always until the end of days. So simple. No need to overthink.

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  181. Glad you all have the energy to keep talking to Bill, because I am spent

    Is it something I said? ;-)

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  182. if Jesus didn't, in fact, rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain.

    See? I don't buy that. Everything is as it is today whether reports of supernatural occurrences are true or not. No one's life will unravel if it turns out that, say, Jesus died and went to heaven and watches over us from there. Or even if there is no heaven. Our lives will go on. That's the way I have to look at it.

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  183. Leila,

    I placed a hold on Nothing Short of a Miracle at my library. They have to get it from another town library. Thanks.

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  184. "Or even if there is no heaven. Our lives will go on."

    Bill, you have such an admirable sanguinity about the permanence of earthly things! :)

    Now if I were intending to burst your bubble, cause you grief, draw your attention to the fragility of human existence or generally give you pause for thought, I'd do nasty things like point you to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan or the 4700 potentially dangerous asteroids lurking near planet Earth or the urgent and strident prophecies of a certain Al Gore! But, no, I won't be such a spoilsport; I won't unravel your cocoon of comfortable certainty!

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