Thursday, December 3, 2015

"RELIGION: Because Thinking is Hard"



Let's think about this.

My 15-year-old son and I were pulling out of his large public high school when we spotted a bumper sticker on the back of a student's vehicle:

Image result for religion: because thinking is hard


Apparently, this is a popular saying among "free-thinkers" (atheists, agnostics, secularists), and although "religious people are blind followers" is a standard platitude, I had not seen this particular incarnation before. 

I started to laugh, but it was my son who nailed it:

"Wow, that's so ridiculous, because I'm sure she goes along with whatever belief is popular right now."

Bam! Good thinking, son!

I would bet the farm that the young woman with the bumper sticker holds the most popular, fashionable, and faddish thinking on abortion, gender/transgender/LGBTQIA, sexuality, gay "marriage", racism/sexism/classism (and "safe spaces"), environmentalism, "death with dignity", gun control, etc., etc., etc.

I don't believe for a minute that she's thought about centuries of Catholic scientists who have done the work and made the discoveries she takes for granted; I don't believe she's thought about, much less read, myriad Catholic philosophers whose entire raison d'ĂȘtre is the search for and love of Truth; I don't believe she's thought about where universities and schools of higher learning originated; and I am certain that she has no background in the thought and history of Western Civilization itself. 

I have no doubt that her worldview is as predictable as it is disconnected to any ideas that are actually her own.

The good news is, she's young (we've all been there), and, God willing, she has many years ahead of her to start actually thinking.


Your thoughts?







81 comments:

  1. ATHEISM: Because religion is actually harder.

    ATHEISM: Because linear reasoning is hard.

    ATHEISM: Because feelings are easy.

    ATHEISM: Because self-refuting arguments are really popular right now.

    ATHEISM: Because I never learned how to properly illustrate a flow chart about religion.

    I got more...but it's Advent. Guess I should be nice.

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  2. I daresay if she gets brave enough to start thinking she might find herself in the last place she thought she'd end up.

    Worked for me. ;)

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  3. Nubby, yes, and you are right, they can go on and on....

    silicasandra, I love it! Amen!

    And, at least she is young. It's harder to understand the many, many full-grown adults who believe this sentiment.

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  4. Nubby, you need to make those into bumper stickers!

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  5. lol Bethany-- or tee-shirts, right? Someone should meme this whole idea of atheism- stat. Using the unimpressed Willy Wonka stock pic. "Tell me again how clever you are with your absolute certainty that there are no absolutes?"

    Leila- it's like the non-thinking of a certain 20 yr old I know who went and got a "Darwin" tattoo on her foot. I wanted to say to her smirk, "You do know he was a racist, right? That he compared African Americans to cattle and referred to them in his 2nd book as a subspecies that needed to be wiped out, and that Hitler really took this to heart and it actually drove him to begin killing people in order to make a "super human race"?" I guarantee she'd have no clue. Srsly. She got it because it's "cool" to what-- ? Show the world how much you don't know? Permanently in ink on your body?

    Young and clueless, we've all been there... There but for the grace of God go I...
    It's one thing to be clueless. It's another to want to seem clever in that cluelessness...

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  6. "What's that they say about a haughty spirit and a fall?"

    "Huh?"

    "It is a riddle. I'm sure you are clever enough to figure it out."

    May the Holy Spirit be with them.

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  7. She is a wounded product of today's world, which has been turned upside down by the enemy. I am not so grateful for the deep thinking of our Church, but rather for the mercy God bestows upon us through Her. I am most grateful for our Year of Mercy which is coming upon us so soon... I'm sure your 15-yr-old is praying for her now. ;)

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  8. Slightly off topic, but I discovered a great bumper sticker "response" to the "COEXIST" stickers you see. It's the religious symbols arranged into the word "REPENT"... http://www.cafepress.com/repentbelieve/11353839

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  9. Bethany, yes! Nubby could be her own industry if she wanted! I still want a Chris and Nubby podcast.

    Nubby, Oh if they only knew! sigh...

    Marie, amen!

    April, yes, that was part of the discussion, and isn't it neat that the bumper sticker actually translates to: "Please pray for me."

    Joseph, I hadn't seen that! Very cool.

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  10. May God increase His mercy toward her and deliver into the Church....awful bumper sticker. Mary, I hope you will take her in your prayers forever.

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  11. Catholicism: Only makes sense when you actually think.
    May I offer a snippet (example) from the book I'm working on...

    The science of the past took reason seriously with a premise like this; “We know the creator is intelligent, so we must go forward assuming the universe is intelligible.”...Today, many hold the backwards, upside down and non-negotiable premise of, “We know the universe is intelligible, so we must go forward assuming there is no intelligence behind it.”

    “It is truly glorious for a religion to have such unreasonable men as enemies.”
    - Blaise Pascal

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  12. Whoa, Ben, that is so good, and that quote is awesome!

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  13. Today, many hold the backwards, upside down and non-negotiable premise of, “We know the universe is intelligible, so we must go forward assuming there is no intelligence behind it.”


    Ben, That's a good point. And they don't even realize that their premise begs the Thomistic question, "Why?" Existence and order in nature beg questions and point to a Creator simply because they are realities we apprehend and comprehend. Why do people assume there is no intelligence behind order and why do they think this is a solid premise to even begin with? Chance would never give rise to such particular order.

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  14. Nubby, that seems so simple, so axiomatic, so obvious. What do you find is the answer that atheists give? Why or how do they think that order came out of randomness or chaos, or chance?

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  15. Leila-
    I agree that the young woman driving the car probably hasn't thought about any of the topics you mentioned; however, if she had a Christian sticker I'd think the same thing. I think teenagers are either sponges for what the people around them believe; or they rebel against the beliefs of those around them. Either way, their ideas aren't based in a lot of facts or research. I know several people who were ardent Christians as teenagers ("Jesus freaks" was the term) and when they got older they laughed at those beliefs, realizing they were mislead or too young to think for themselves. There are also many adult Christians who were "hellions" growing up.

    But even people who come to religion as adults have often done no research at all---it's an emotional thing. And some people's aversion to religion is just an emotional thing.

    After all this I'm not exactly sure what my point is! But there you are....

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  16. Johanne, true. But this is so, so, so incredibly ignorant (religious people don't "think"? Seriously? Most people in the history of the world have been religious in some way or another... atheism is the anomaly). And of course teens are unusually ignorant today (more so than previous generations, for sure). But it's still worth calling out. And it's still worth remembering that many highly, highly educated folks are "free-thinkers" and atheists, and that these stickers (and license plate frames and t-shirts) are not manufactured by or for teenagers. The idea that Christians don't "think" is pretty standard among the atheist crowd these days (ask me how I know, ha).

    It's arrogance combined with ignorance, which is a sad combination. I will always call it out.

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  17. I want to add:

    I disagree strongly with atheists on their conclusions (and premises). But I would never accuse all atheists of being non-thinkers. Many of them do quite a bit of thinking and studying, and they are not dummies, not by a long shot. They are dead wrong, but they are not averse to thinking. That's the difference, as I see it. Many of the proudest atheists believe that Christians are simple-minded, or non-intellectuals, as a rule. It's like they've never met any of us in real life. Now, I am not so keen on the anti-intellectualism of certain strains of fundamentalist Protestants, but Protestantism itself is a tiny fraction of Christianity, both in the world, and in the history of Christianity. An intellectual, a thinker, would know this. A thinker would not disparage Christians, seeing how we are the intellectual patrimony of western civ.

    Clearly we have a problem with the educational system, lol!

    This young lady in high school probably has not thought about any of this, which does make her bumper sticker particularly ironic and egregious, though.

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  18. Hi Leila! Can you expand on what you mean about the anti-intellectualism of certain strains of fundamentalist Protestants? Just curious if it's similar to what I think, and I always love your thoughts!

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  19. What do you find is the answer that atheists give? Why or how do they think that order came out of randomness or chaos, or chance?

    I usually find that atheists typically fail in both philosophical and scientific understanding. They don't understand Aquinas's five ways (esp when we start talking casuality or first mover or natural regression/natural end and/or infinite time). They use strawmam arguments to argue against something that isn't even put forth in the actual premise or explanation of Aquinas. And they ignore very relevant data that has been scientifically observed (measured, tested, supported) regarding the age of the universe, the limits of which we can visibly see and measure, all the models of the universe that can be tested in real time under real conditions which have not been disputed, and all the implications toward a Creator that those findings lead us to. Considering that all of this requires pretty analytical thinking and considering that Catholics have basically birthed and generated intellectual pursuits since the formation of the West, I find that bumper sticker erroneous and ironic to say the least.

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  20. Johanne-

    "But even people who come to religion as adults have often done no research at all---it's an emotional thing."

    No. That's not correct. It is completely possible to make a logical decision without doing thesis-level research. For the vast majority of human history people did not have the ability or the time to sit down and do research on various topics before they made decisions. They used their powers of observations and reasoning skills and still made logical reasonable decisions.

    What is often call "emotional decisions" are based far more in logic and reasoning than our society gives credit. If I decide to bail on a situation because my gut is telling me something is wrong it is because I am picking up on social cues and environmental factors that are telling me there is a reason to be worried. That's still thinking.

    There are plenty of people who are devoutly religious who can't win in a debate or aren't able to articulate all the logical reasons why they follow the narrow way. And some of these folks *gasp* don't care to learn because they don't believe it is necessary. Those are not emotional decisions, and those people do not deserve to be mocked or looked down on because they came to a decision in a way you deem inferior.

    "I think teenagers are either sponges for what the people around them believe; or they rebel against the beliefs of those around them. Either way, their ideas aren't based in a lot of facts or research."

    You have an extraordinary low opinion of teenagers. Yes, they lack maturity and experience. They do not lack critical thinking skills or research skills. From around age 14 and on most teenagers are making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. On some level, they all know that. They are thinking about what they want to do and what lives they would like to lead. It is important that they have caring adults around them to help them and guide them.

    You comment implies that all adults around them do is try to fill up teenagers heads on "their" point of view so they can "win" another one for their "side." Which is exactly what is so infuriating about that bumper sticker.

    The bumper sticker asserts religion falls apart as soon as you apply rational thought to it. That's demonstratively false. (As the others here have pointed out.) Even if you aren't on the side of the religious you should be intellectually honest enough to challenge the teenager on that concept and encourage her to think it through.

    But so many adults don't care. They want to create a world where religion and morality are mocked so they can continue to feel better about their own lives. They KNOWINGLY feed children lies and then sooth what is left of their conscience by saying it is for the greater good because everyone _knows_ how horrible religion is.

    I don't care who you are. That bumper sticker should bother you, unless you care nothing about truth or integrity.

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  21. I know several people who were ardent Christians as teenagers ("Jesus freaks" was the term) and when they got older they laughed at those beliefs, realizing they were mislead or too young to think for themselves. There are also many adult Christians who were "hellions" growing up.

    Johanne,
    They weren’t misled, they just were not fully lead (intellectually). They erroneously laughed at something that is based solidly in objective truth and they failed to come to an intellectual understanding of what it is they were leaving.

    Just because someone laughs at the objective truth of gravity doesn’t mean gravity is false; it means that person doesn’t understand.

    Point is, no one signs up for religion because “thinking is hard”. That’s just a smart-mouthed way of trying to be clever while insulting believers. Reality is, they themselves probably cannot decode a polynomial equation (which requires higher level thinking) if you ask them to, but they’re taking cheap shots at people of faith with this lame bumper sticker.

    If they want to be “thoughtful” (because thinking is reserved for them), they need to put every religion on the table and analyze skeletal commonalities, breaks, patterns, histories, and understand what they find. That’s the “thoughtful” route.

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  22. But even people who come to religion as adults have often done no research at all---it's an emotional thing. And some people's aversion to religion is just an emotional thing.

    Even if someone comes to faith without “thinking” it doesn’t hold that they stay ignorant.

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  23. Marie and Nubby, thank you! Your answers to Johanne's comment were thoughtful and more thorough than mine. I have some things swirling around in my head, and I will bring them here later after I drop off a kid at school.

    Nubby, do you find, then, that the atheists simply stop dialoguing at that point? I can't seem to find any that will stay with me and get to the logical conclusions. They just up and leave. If someone were asking me about points of Catholicism, I would never up and leave (esp. if we assume good will).

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  24. So, the bumper sticker in question cannot be valid, because it's implication is untrue on its face. There is no way we can look at reality and say that religious people are unthinking people. We know from all the looooong lists of Christians thinkers for example. We know from pretty much just being conscious that this cannot be a valid idea (that religious people do not think because it is hard).

    But if one were to see a bumper sticker that says, "Jesus Christ is Lord"... that is not the same at all. That cannot be dismissed out-of-hand, because it indeed could be true.

    So, the analogy between Christian bumper stickers and this particular secularist bumper sticker does not hold at all.

    Also, I agree with the other ladies that someone could believe in Christ from the beginning and be completely correct. Even if their experience of Christ is not "intellectual" (heck, read some of the saints' lives. They knew Christ intimately but were not intellectuals, or classically educated.)

    I think Marie, you've hit on something. Even the great philosophers did not ever assume that the common folk were dummies. They assumed the common sense of the common man. That is what is missing in the cultural elites today. They don't have any respect for the common man and common sense. We have the "cult of the expert" today, which is a shame, because oftentimes the "experts" have no common sense or understanding of human nature. One of my favorite books is by Professor J. Budziszewski, former atheist now expert on natural law: What We Can't Not Know. He has a whole section on the "cult of the expert" and how it's harmed our society.

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  25. Beth B, great question. I mean those who take the Bible completely literally (which is not the intent of the writers of Scripture). So, they believe that the Bible is a science book, for example, when it was not intend to be so. If modern science should disprove something that the fundamentalists believed firmly (because of Bible misinterpretation), that could devastate the faith of that fundamentalist. It's entirely unnecessary.

    I have a dear friend who was a very faithful evangelical missionary (now she is a faithful Catholic catechist and her husband is a deacon), and she had a beautiful faith, but she was very honest in telling me that in her family there was a real pride in being anti-intellectual. They held intellectualism and higher education in real suspicion. So, there was a badge of honor in being un-intellectual! That is unfortunate, because faith and reason go together! They are the two wings on which Christians soar to the Father. Some Protestants believe that faith and reason are opposed. That is an error.

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  26. Leila,
    I find the online atheists stop the dialogue and the train of thought all the time.

    However, there have been exchanges in real life that pan out better because the face to face interaction forces a type of honesty and clarity of conversation that challenges their thinking "on the spot" while keeping things light mood-wise. Best conversations are over bourbon and ginger ale, honestly. Casual, friendly.

    We only get so far online because it's too easy for the atheist to give up on the logic of the thinking and walk away from the thread. Sadly, most just want to crop dust their talking points all over the comments and not engage the deeper line of thought, really, anyway, for whatever reason, as we've seen a billion times on your blog.

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  27. So how do I, as a Catholic, explain to a fundamentalist that the Bible was not intended to be taken literally?

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  28. Beth,
    You can explain that parts of the Bible are definitely meant to be taken literally but other parts are not. It takes an authority to delineate. The Church. You can explain that hermeneutics is important here; or just explain that certain lenses have to be used and always under the New Testament understanding. New can look at old, broad can look at narrow. Not the other way around. Certain things are not to be translated literally, some are.

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  29. Thanks, Nubby. I guess it all goes back to them not accepting where the Bible came from and also believing in private interpretation. But definitely very fundamentalist because they claim that since the Bible doesn't mention what kind of music is supposed to be played during a church service, you have wiggle room with that. Almost as if they see the Bible as giving out step by step detailed instructions, like a recipe for apple pie would. Does that make sense?

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  30. Beth, exactly. They see the Bible as a recipe book. But it was never, intended to be used as such. You and Nubby hit on the problem: Authority. They accept the Scriptures but not the authority that gave them the Scriptures. They don't think back far enough. Where did we get the New Testament? Who vouches for the veracity of the Bible? Who canonized it? On what authority? They don't ask these questions.

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  31. However, there have been exchanges in real life that pan out better because the face to face interaction forces a type of honesty and clarity of conversation that challenges their thinking "on the spot" while keeping things light mood-wise.

    Yes! I would love to sit down with the atheists on my blog and have a fun lunch or dinner and really just get to the heart of it, when they won't simply drop it and walk away like they do here.

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  32. If she just replaced the word "RELIGION" with the word "STEREOTYPING," it'd be a very accurate sticker.

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  33. Excellent point, JoAnna!

    It just gets me how pretentious one must be, with such an air of superiority, to think of, manufacture, and sport such a sticker. But yet with *nothing* of substance behind it. It's just weird.

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  34. Nubby, can you expand on "always under the New Testament understanding"?

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  35. Sure. I just meant that the New Testament revelation is the full revelation of God's message to us and that is the lens we use to read and interpret God's entire message. New Testament revelation is the broadest context, the widest view, and we can see the entirety of God's personal revelation through that, and through that only.

    So when you look at your example of your bible believing friends trying to make a "recipe" out of their own literal interpretations of God’s book, look at the inconsistencies that projects onto God. It makes it seem like he was nasty, then nice. It makes it seem like he waivers on attributes like justice then mercy. They're taking thousands of years of writing from many, many writers and attempting to assemble an idea of God by taking certain passages of justice literally and certain passages of love literally. Well, which is it? If they're literal about it all, they'd paint God as changing-- and yet God doesn't change.

    So, they need to see what Jesus speaks about, because Jesus is the fullness of Divine Revelation. He’s the most modern message—the fullest message, so to speak. Jesus set up a Church. Jesus cleared up the peoples’ misunderstandings on things like war, wrath, enemies, marriage, re-marriage, piety, oaths, honor, etc. He showed up on the scene when the time was right and began to instruct, "You have heard it was ___ but I tell you it's ____." (see Matt 5)

    Your bible believing friends have to be careful they’re using the lens Jesus gave us: the Church. Hermeneutics is the name of the method for interpreting the Bible. They've maybe never heard of it.

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  36. Religion - because thinking is hard and we're up to the challenge.

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  37. @Marie
    "But even people who come to religion as adults have often done no research at all---it's an emotional thing."

    No. That's not correct.


    Yes, it is correct.

    I have known many people (particularly teenagers) who come to religion from pure emotion. My sister, for example, went to a revival as a teenager and when they asked people to come forward if they wanted to be "born again" and accept Jesus, she was overcome with emotion and went forward; for a while she considered herself born again. This happens with Protestants frequently. I witnessed it when I went to church growing up and I have "born again" friends who recount these to me. So yes, it is certainly true.

    It is completely possible to make a logical decision without doing thesis-level research.

    Of course it is. I never said it wasn't. I said people often come to religion through emotion alone (the learning comes later). This doesn't preclude that people come to religion through research.

    What is often call "emotional decisions" are based far more in logic and reasoning than our society gives credit.

    That's true, but often emotional decisions are not based on logic and those are the ones I am addressing. The people who "come to Jesus" during revivals are cases in point.

    There are plenty of people who are devoutly religious who can't win in a debate or aren't able to articulate all the logical reasons why they follow the narrow way. And some of these folks *gasp* don't care to learn because they don't believe it is necessary. Those are not emotional decisions, and those people do not deserve to be mocked or looked down on because they came to a decision in a way you deem inferior.

    Marie, you are projecting combative motives to me which are not the slightest bit real, simply because I presented some truthful scenarios that apparently bother you. I am not mocking anyone, nor am I looking down on anyone, nor am I thinking anyone is inferior. I am simply stating that sometimes people come to religion through emotion. There is nothing wrong with that. I came to Buddhism primarily through emotion and learned a great deal about it in following years.

    You have an extraordinary low opinion of teenagers.

    I do not have a lot opinion of teenagers at all; I simply made some accurate, though very broad generalizations for the purpose of discussion.

    They do not lack critical thinking skills or research skills.

    Actually they do. Their frontal lobes and not fully developed . See links below.

    They are thinking about what they want to do and what lives they would like to lead. It is important that they have caring adults around them to help them and guide them.

    Of course it is.



    That is absurd. I didn't imply anything about the adults. I said teenagers absorb what's around them, which doesn't suggest any volition on the part of the adults.


    I don't care who you are. That bumper sticker should bother you, unless you care nothing about truth or integrity.


    I don't believe the bumper sticker reflects reality and I find it offensive. However, I've seen tons of bumper stickers that said untrue and highly offensive things. It's the nature of bumper stickers. In that context I see no logic in getting intensely worked about this one.

    You have projected a lot of belligerence onto me for no reason whatsoever except, I assume, because I am not a Christian. I am sure you don't intend to be offensive but you will never draw non-believers to Catholicism if you speak to them the way you are to me.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124119468

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/trouble-in-mind/201112/brilliant-brazen-teenage-brains

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/sep/05/teenage-brain-behaviour-prefrontal-cortex


    I

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  38. @Nubby

    "I know several people who were ardent Christians as teenagers ("Jesus freaks" was the term) and when they got older they laughed at those beliefs, realizing they were mislead or too young to think for themselves. There are also many adult Christians who were "hellions" growing up.

    Johanne,
    They weren’t misled, they just were not fully lead (intellectually). "


    I see your point. I used the wrong word. What I meant to say was "when they got older they laughed at those beliefs, believing they were mislead or too young to think for themselves.

    I didn't mean to say that their religious beliefs were necessarily untrue.

    Point is, no one signs up for religion because “thinking is hard”. That’s just a smart-mouthed way of trying to be clever while insulting believers.

    I agree.

    Even if someone comes to faith without “thinking” it doesn’t hold that they stay ignorant.

    Agree with this as well.

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  39. Just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying this discussion and the civilised nature of it! Johanne, Marie, Beth, Nubby, Leila, JoAnna, Jennifer, everyone - this is great! Thank you! If I had one wish, it would be for more non-Christians to chip in and give their point of view.

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  40. Johanne,
    I’m glad we agree on those couple of points.

    You said this, which I’d like to explore since the bumper sticker in question assumes people of religion don't think:

    I came to Buddhism primarily through emotion and learned a great deal about it in following years.

    What’s your opinion of Buddhism’s objectivity-- meaning, as you learned about it, what did you find it anchored in, intellectually? When you hold it up to other religions, what makes you find it objectively sound? What makes Buddhism the touchstone of all religions?

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  41. @ Nubby. I don't know that Buddhism is the touchstone of all religions. I just know it's the right religion for me.

    I don't know if I'm answering your question but intellectually Buddhism is anchored in the fact that the tenets of Buddhist practice are true by direct observation. Devoting oneself to them doesn't require a lot of research because you experience the results directly and absolutely consistently.

    I observe that the trump card used by many Catholics on this blog is that Catholicism is not subjective--that it has clear doctrine that can be attributed to God himself (though the Church, which was founded by Jesus, who was God in flesh). Other religions and theories are necessarily inferior to Catholicism because they have no objective source of truth.---did I get this right?

    So I will concede ahead of time that Buddhism does not define truth in a way that would be satisfying to you. But it satisfies me. I think that's all I can say.

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  42. "When you hold it up to other religions, what makes you find it objectively sound?"

    The fact that I can see/experience the truths myself. Buddhism doesn't require "faith" in the sense of believing in something that you can't see. Other religions do.

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  43. @ Marie
    Blogger kept removing one of the paragraphs I put into my post.

    When I said "That is absurd. I didn't imply anything about the adults. I said teenagers absorb what's around them, which doesn't suggest any volition on the part of the adults."

    I was responding to this:

    "You comment implies that all adults around them do is try to fill up teenagers heads on "their" point of view so they can "win" another one for their "side." "

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  44. Johanne,
    Ok, thanks. Just off the cuff here:

    I observe that the trump card used by many Catholics on this blog is that Catholicism is not subjective--that it has clear doctrine that can be attributed to God himself (though the Church, which was founded by Jesus, who was God in flesh). Other religions and theories are necessarily inferior to Catholicism because they have no objective source of truth.---did I get this right?

    Yes, and that’s not opinion, that’s historical fact. That’s why it actually is a trump card. We can see God came to earth. We can trace that.

    So when the facts start to stack up and we look at the documented history of religions, I wonder what makes people choose, logically, the religion that they do. I mean, here’s a matrix before us: columns and rows and all kinds of inputs and quantities about religions. We can just dryly look at that and say, “According to this data, Christianity is the truest and makes the most logical sense.” It’s literally *that dry* because the facts are actually overwhelming (not opinion).

    I realize people haven’t looked that in depth or that dryly before, but it’s definitely a smart thing to do. If we’re all claiming we have the truth, and we people of religion actually do think (to prove the bumper sticker people wrong), then we should be diligent in that thought process, right? We should satisfy the search because we all understand that we want the “truth”. So, what is it, how do I find it, how do I know I’m walking in it? What does it look like, require of me, how do I know I’m reasoning the right way, etc.?

    So I will concede ahead of time that Buddhism does not define truth in a way that would be satisfying to you. But it satisfies me. I think that's all I can say.

    It’s not that it needs to satisfy me but, for conversation’s sake, satisfy what truth really is- objectively. Is outside of ourselves? Is it more than just ‘personal experience’? Is it a reality to be apprehended by our intellect? Or just something we lay claim to when it benefits us emotionally? Otherwise, am I on a wild goose chase about “truth”? See?
    I realize it’s a religion that you’ve benefited from. I’m not saying anything to that point. I’m asking, objectively.

    The fact that I can see/experience the truths myself. Buddhism doesn't require "faith" in the sense of believing in something that you can't see. Other religions do.

    1) It requires faith that you’re going to reach nirvana, right? So some requirement of faith is there. How do you regard nirvana?

    2) Let me be dry: How can you know what you believe is true if there’s no quality control or any comparative specification that sets the bar? I mean, by that logic, I can say I experience truths myself about my bank account, but unless I go by the numbers, I am just making up my own answer about my own experience. The objective has to be outside of myself otherwise I can color outside the lines all I want and call it ‘my experiences of truth’, right?

    Speaking to the logic here, really. I mean it has to be paint by numbers, not charcoal smudging, right? There’s order and semblance and a clear goal at the end of it all --- heaven for Christians, nirvana for Buddhists. So, how can you know what you’re practicing is true? How can you know it’s anything beyond something comforting to practice? I mean, I don’t practice Catholicism because of the comfort (!?) it gives me. I practice it because there’s logical reason to do so and because I’ve been given the gift of faith. I just want to dissect the logic.

    3) If the person with that bumper sticker read our conversation, do you think she’d find reason to mock the line of thought in our explanations of truth? Would she say, “See, you believe in feelings, you don't think”? Or would we give her pause to consider backing up the bus and making a few stops to at least understand ideas of “objective truth” and “historical accuracy” outside of doctrine?

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  45. Nubby
    I doubt the person with the bumper would have anything to say about the conversation we're having. He/she probably has no interest in a real discussion of religion.

    heaven for Christians, nirvana for Buddhists. So, how can you know what you’re practicing is true? How can you know it’s anything beyond something comforting to practice? I mean, I don’t practice Catholicism because of the comfort (!?) it gives me.

    Here we reach the usual impasse. You have so many misconceptions about what Buddhism is that it feels exhausting and pointless to even discuss it; particularly when in the end you have your trump card. I sometimes think the only reason for you to engage in conversation with non-Catholics is to show them why they're wrong,

    First of all there is no parallel whatsoever in Nirvana and Heaven. Christians expect to get to heaven (as long as they obey doctrine) and I've never met a Buddhist who expects to achieve nirvana. Nirvana is not a meaningful concept to me; I never think about it and I've never heard it discussed in Western Buddhism except in the context of studying history; On the contrary, heaven is critical to Christians.

    And why would you assume the meaning of Buddhist practice is "comfort"? It is nothing of the sort, although it can bring comfort (as your religion can give you comfort).

    Let me be dry: How can you know what you believe is true if there’s no quality control or any comparative specification that sets the bar?

    How do you know something is red? Can't you just tell by looking at it?

    Again, I concede that nothing I believe will appear sound to you. You have your trump card. I don't intend to be flippant--it's just reality. I don't agree that Christianity is built on fact and I've studied and listened to devout Christians ad naseum; I grew up in a church and went to Sunday school every week; attended Bible study, etc and I've been on this blog for ages. I have absolutely looked at Christianity in depth and I don't believe it.

    Best to you

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  46. If I have misconceptions, feel free to clear them up. Is the end goal of your religious practice to reach nirvana or no? If you're a Buddhist and you never expect nirvana, then why the practice? Of course comfort can be part of any practice, but you're claiming it's not really that either. Then... what exactly is "spiritual" about the practice? No goal, no specific outline, free wheeling... I mean, now I'm in "think mode", aren't you? It begs a lot of questions.

    I have studied Buddhism enough to know what it determines through detachment. It sounds like you only practice a portion of the total picture, that's what I gather. But objectively speaking, Buddhism is about detachment and self-extinguishing. So where's the misconception on my end?

    I "assume comfort" because you said your religion has benefited you-- that's an emotional response to a spiritual practice. It's a comfort. It's something you focus on to relieve stress, right? I mean, you're not trying for nirvana but stress relief from life-- right or...?

    You don't need to convince me of anything. I comment to get logic out of the discussion. I comment because I appreciate understanding clear lines of thought and I hope I can shed light for people reading. If it appears that I'm forever "correcting" those in error, that is probably because there is an error that needs correcting. You don't care for correction? So being in error is okay?

    You've grown up in the Church and all that and you don't believe any of it. Okay. So, are we proving the bumper sticker correct then? We don't think, we just do? I mean, you keep pooing the idea of nirvana. For heaven's sake, that's the primary goal of Buddhists. I don't ask you to speak for all Buddhists but if your charge is that you don't do portions of your religion because it's free-wheeling and complex, then that asks me to "think" harder. I don't park it. And I think harder because I enjoy thinking aloud. I enjoy understanding so that I can grasp a truth of something-- especially of a faith. Don't you?

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    1. You must understand the power dynamic in this blog and in this thread is overwhelmingly in your favor as a practicing Catholic. It is an echoing board in here, so I offer a dissenting opinion below.
      I am not a Buddhist, but I have studied it, lived with people who practice it, and have listened to what they find important. Religion is important to those who practice, it not for all the steps and sutras and psalms and minutiae involved, but what it speaks to them about living a good life as a good person. Therefore, I find it offensive that without a moment's consideration you assume Johanne cherry-picks her faith.
      One reaches nirvana and escapes samsara by following the Eightfold Path, which is NOT analogous to the Ten Commandments but may be best understood as rules for a practicing Buddhist to follow. Nirvana is a goal, but it is not the end-goal for Buddhists; in fact, to pursue nirvana as an end in itself is disingenuous to the tenets of Buddhism and actually PRECLUDES someone from reaching nirvana. FYI, nirvana literally means "unbound' as in "Mind like fire unbound." It is escape from samsara, or constant reincarnation, the (dukkha) of life, which is declared as one of the Four Noble Truths. It is NOT analogous to a Christian Heaven, which in itself differs from the Heaven of other Abrahamic religions, and the amount of ignorance in this assumption alone tells me you really may care very little about grasping the truth of a faith that is not your own.
      I have read your thread with Johanne and I am sorry that you seem so unaware that you repeatedly assume the following:
      1) Buddhists, atheists, and, it seems in your case, any non-Catholics don't think about or know about faith, science, logic, Scripture etc., whether regarding your religion or any other religion. Most people are brought up in a religion; everyone is exposed to religion in some form or other growing up. Babies aren't born religious, they are brought up in a faith, and ultimately choose what they believe farther down the road, often through a combination of research and "gut" feeling that is theirs alone to interpret.
      2) Your way is the only way, and that if someone else has their own way they must be wrong, and therefore deserve to be browbeaten by your self-righteous "thinking aloud", hopefully to enforce a conversion. Those who aren't of your faith aren't of your faith by CHOICE; I have heard Christians call this concept "free will" but, as there are so many other religions and denominations and reformations occurring all over the world, evidence makes me think choice is a better overall term. People who don't believe in what you believe prefer tenets of another faith or because they have rejected faith in any religion.

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    2. I find your anger about this bumper sticker befuddling, as this young woman is practicing her "RELIGIOUS FREEDOM" U.S. Christians are always on about these days. Freedom of religion involves freedom FROM religion; it is a two-way street, it is only evening out the playing field between the majority and minority, which I think any reasonable person would find just. The young woman with the bumper sticker is justifiably angry about the outdated tendency of theists to conflate faith with logic, and the free range theists have, as the majority of people in society, to steamroll and discredit nonbelievers. The young woman is sick of doing what most nonbelievers have been pressured into doing since the beginning, which is keep quiet, change the subject, or resign the conversation (what Johanne has done above) as a lost cause.
      What you are calling "giving up" is actually someone defending themselves, their own definition of faith from your arrogant, ignorant, sanctimonious belittlement. I find your attitude the farthest thing from logical, which is ultimately objective and neutral, therefore the most repeatable truth, at least in the way we understand truth as humans.
      Since I do not intend to contribute past this reply, do not assume I have "given up" and you are automatically correct by having the last word. Take it as evidence that you not only misunderstand, but WILLFULLY refuse to consider the validity of viewpoints other than your own, reinforcing a big stereotype that nonbelievers hold about the religious and shoving the wedge between us all ever wider . . .

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    3. I responded to you at the bottom, as the rules state. Thanks and I hope you will scroll down for that.

      Delete
  47. Except, Johanne, that we can surpass the usual impasse and delve deeper into the discussion, which is exactly what Leila, Nubby, et al have been expressing a desire to do! That's what we all enjoy and appreciate is the ability to constantly be able to study the reasons/rationale/history/etc of Christianity and we're tired of non-Christians dismissing our attempts at discussion and leaving it as just saying they don't believe. Please please someone tell me, what is the alternative? It has been mostly proven that the historical Jesus DID exist so what is the alternative if He is not actually God?

    Also, could Christianity be true even if zero people in the world believed in it? How can Jesus/Christianity be true for myself, Leila, Nubby, etc. but not for others like yourself, Johanne?

    Please, let's persevere and keep going. Thus proving the bumper sticker entirely false :)

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  48. Hi Johanne. Just curious if you grew up in the Catholic Church or in one of the Protestant denominations. Thanks!

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  49. Johanne, thank you!! I love this! Please don't go away! I want to keep talking. Everyone always leaves. Please stay and let's flesh this out.

    A couple of questions.

    Peter Kreeft has said the following: "There is only one reason to believe anything: Because it's true." Do you agree?

    Also, is it fair to say that Buddhism is a philosophy more than a religion? After all, there is not deity involved. So, it's almost an experience that one is aiming for, rather than a belief system grounded in some objective truth. Am I close? Thanks!

    Beth B, I believe Johanne was raised Methodist.

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  50. Johanne, you said: "And why would you assume the meaning of Buddhist practice is "comfort"? It is nothing of the sort..."

    I'm honestly asking, then what is the meaning of Buddhist practice?

    Also, you said that you have looked and studied and seen that Christianity is not true. If there is one favor I would ask you, it is to please do the exercise that I asked here, and that no one followed through on:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-jesus-really-die-and-rise.html

    It's the only question, ultimately. The only one.

    We are hard wired to seek truth. Without truth, what is there?

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  51. I don't know that Buddhism is the touchstone of all religions. I just know it's the right religion for me.

    Can I further challenge you on this, Johanne?
    I’m not trying to play Bop the Buddhist, honestly, but this just proves that bumper sticker to be true and it is exactly what we don’t want, right?

    If you are not sure of the fullness of the truthfulness of what you practice then why do you practice? Honest question. It begs this question, actually.

    If someone asks me why I practice Catholicism, my stock answer is that man fell from grace through the sins of Adam and Even, and salvation from sin and death came to mankind through the God-man Jesus and He made sure to leave Himself as a gift to us through His Church and His life in the sacraments, in order that we can attain salvation at the end of time to be with Him forever in heaven.

    That’s a ten second answer.

    So far, I’ve not even understood the “why” portion of why you practice Buddhism, or parts of it, or whichever percent you adhere to. Is there no unified answer? No stock answer?

    Secondly, how do you know it’s a worthy pursuit? If there’s no promise of any relationship or bliss waiting for us beyond this life (according to you, you don’t seek nirvana, even) through Buddhism, no paper trail to its founder, no organized doctrine that all should follow to make sure they’re on the same path there, then how do we know it’s worth practicing?

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  52. Nubby, if we can go back to what we were discussing before with my bible believing friends? You said they need to look at things through the New Testament... Here's where I get confused. Why do Catholics point to the Old Testament then for purgatory when you can point it out in the New Testament? Kind of like how when we speak about marriage being between one man and one woman, we should speak from the New and not from Leviticus, correct? I hope I'm making sense!

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    1. To clarify to anyone reading, I am Catholic. I just find the general explanation of purgatory is always Macabees and that seems to be it.

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  53. Beth, New Testament Purgatory slam dunk here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2015/11/primer-on-purgatory-since-its-all-souls.html

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  54. Also, Jesus was unbelievably, explicitly clear about the nature of marriage being the one-flesh union of a man and a woman. I mean he literally says that explicitly. So I'm not sure why gay-rights activists imply that he was silent on the nature of marriage. He didn't mention "gay marriage" because it is a non-thing.

    Hope that helps a bit.

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  55. Thanks! Yes, I read that back when you posted, and it's excellent. Corinthians is my go-to when trying to defend purgatory. I guess what I'm trying to understand when dealing with fundamentalists is... Okay, we can say purgatory is historical. How do you deal with the rest of the Old Testament? That's what I was asking Nubby. I hope I'm making sense. Kids are screaming and dog is barking so probably not, but... For instance, they still believe in a strict 10% tithe. That is not a Catholic belief.

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  56. Oh, the gay marriage thing... I wasn't referring to gay activists. I meant Protestant fundamentalists who definitely believe in one man/one woman marriage but quote Leviticus to defend it. I read something by a Catholic (and I believe a reputable Catholic) about how that's not really the way to go bc then you have to follow everything else Leviticus says, like not eating shellfish.

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  57. Why do Catholics point to the Old Testament then for purgatory when you can point it out in the New Testament? Kind of like how when we speak about marriage being between one man and one woman, we should speak from the New and not from Leviticus, correct?

    Hi Beth,
    I would just say that we can point to the Old for any kind of fulfillment in the New. It’s the precursor to the fulfillment of the law. Remember Jesus said He came to fulfill the law and all the prophets spoke of and wrote about, not to abolish it.(Matt 5)

    We don’t speak from Leviticus strictly because that was the law that people were under before Christ came in the flesh. We are no longer under that law. Sidenote: The law was such massive confusion for both the scribes and those following it because of all the hundreds of implications. That’s why there was so much fighting over it. Even the leaders couldn’t decide which parts should’ve been implemented when and how, etc.

    It’s not that Christ did away with righteousness or law, it’s that He is Righteousness and the Living Law itself, so to follow Him is to follow the way of Righteousness and the Law to the fullest. It doesn’t make the OT untrue or useless to reference, it just means it is all completed in Christ.

    Think of the OT as foreshadowing of the main character of a story and a long list of descriptions about him, and think of the NT as the actual story unfolding with the main character entering the stage. Lame suggestion, but you get it. We now follow the main character in the current story, not the descriptions of law in the pre-story.

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  58. Oh sorry, yes I see what you mean! That's the problem with Protestantism. They are all over the board, and a lot of them do not know how to argue the secular culture very well at all. Sola Scriptura is illogical and unworkable (it's a problem Islam has as well). Again it all goes back to "what is your authority for that?" But Nubby can take it from here. :)

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  59. The bible believing friends have a hard time logically reconciling why they pick and choose what they take literally and what they don't because they're using their own ideas of what's important and what isn't. They're not following Christ's Church, which He gave us in the New Tst.

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  60. Thanks, Leila and Nubby! More from me later, as I'm off to Saturday evening Mass. Sorry if I'm asking a lot of questions. Poorly catechized as a youngster is an understatement. I've caught up on so much the last nine years but debating with the Fundamentalists tests my patience!!!!

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  61. @Margo
    Except, Johanne, that we can surpass the usual impasse and delve deeper into the discussion, which is exactly what Leila, Nubby, et al have been expressing a desire to do!

    And I have been delving into deeper discussion. I also learn by trial and error and I've been down this road many times. I know where it ends up. Nothing I say has meaning to you because you know the truth, from God himself. "Delving deeper" suggests there's something new to discover. You will not learn anything from me because you know that I'm wrong. I have heard the threads of Catholic logic (at least as they are presented on this blog) multitudes of times and I can't imagine there will be new information.

    we're tired of non-Christians dismissing our attempts at discussion and leaving it as just saying they don't believe.

    I am hardly dismissing your attempts at discussion as I've dialogued with you all repeatedly. I think you see it that way because you think they only possible conclusion from discussion is that everything Catholicism says is true. I don't believe it is. Maybe I'm wrong. Its' just how I see it.

    I think we have already proven the bumper sticker false. :-)

    It has been mostly proven that the historical Jesus DID exist so what is the alternative if He is not actually God?

    Yes it has been mostly proven that the historical Jesus did exist. The alternative is that he existed but wasn't God.

    Also, could Christianity be true even if zero people in the world believed in it?

    Of course. There are zillions of things, throughout history, that no one believed even though they were true (the fact that the world is round is one example.)

    How can Jesus/Christianity be true for myself, Leila, Nubby, etc. but not for others like yourself, Johanne?

    It's either true or it isn't. If it's true, it's true for everyone whether we believe it or not. If it's not true, it's not true for anyone.

    I hope this all makes sense to you.

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  62. @Leila
    I didn't say Christianity isn't true, I said I don't believe it. I am not all-knowing; I can only evaluate things as I see and understand them.

    "There is only one reason to believe anything: Because it's true." Do you agree?

    No. In fact the logic of that statement doesn't make sense. We believe things because we see them as true. Why would anyone believe something they didn't see as true? And people change their minds all the time about things they were positive were true and no longer believe them. None of us are God; none of us are all knowing.

    Also, is it fair to say that Buddhism is a philosophy more than a religion? After all, there is not deity involved.

    That's one way to looking at it; I think of it as a religion but I'm not offended by those who don't. It is what it is.

    So, it's almost an experience that one is aiming for, rather than a belief system grounded in some objective truth.

    No, not at all. The objective truth is what actually happens. Gravity is an objective truth. You don't need to understand physics to know gravity is real. It exists. Knowing it's real gives you clear direction, such as don't jump off of buildings. You can trust it. That's what the Dharma is--natural laws that are observable.

    An important point is that being a Buddhist is not necessarily in conflict with being a Christian. There are many Christians who also practice Buddhism. You can believe Jesus is God and also benefit from Buddhist practice.

    We are hard wired to seek truth. Without truth, what is there?

    I agree. We are hard wired to seek truth. and we all do, and we reach different conclusions.

    Yes, I have seen your thread about whether or not Jesus really rose from the dead, and I see all kinds of holes in your logic. I am not saying this to be belligerent, it's just my thoughtful response. It makes no sense to me on so many levels.

    Here's one example:

    they [disciples] go all over the place acting like Jesus really did rise from the dead despite all evidence to the contrary, and thousands of folks just naturally believe them! Can you imagine that such a thing could happen in real life? (Correct answer: No. It would never happen.)

    Actually stuff like that does happen. What about the wingnuts a couple or so years ago who went around saying the world was coming to an end on a certain date? It was all over the news. All kinds of people believed it even though it made no sense. It boggles the mind what people are willing to believe.

    Because it's illogical and unreasonable that any one person would consent to be tortured and killed for a known lie, and impossible that an entire group would agree to it, with not a single defector shouting, "Wait, we were just kidding! It's a lie and I don't want to die a brutal death for a crazy lie!" (Which is what a reasonable person would do.)

    Not impossible at all. (to be continued)

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  63. Not impossible at all.

    Even though it goes against human nature, people agree to be killed for all kinds of lies they happen to believe. Think of all the hundreds of people in Jonestown who killed themselves and their children because Jim Jones told them to. Think of all the people who killed themselves believing their souls would be transported via the Hale-Bopp comet. It was a lie but they believed it. What about suicide bombers?

    On the third day after Jesus' gruesome death, one of the fearful, cowering disciples suddenly has an idea: "Let's pretend Jesus didn't stay dead! Let's pretend he rose from the dead!"
    Can you see the problem? What are the odds that someone would say that or even think that? Oh, probably…  zero.


    People have delusions all the time. Perhaps he wasn’t pretending. Perhaps he believed it. And those who heard him were taken in and believed it as well. they didn’t see it a a lie. The odds someone would do that are not zero.

    But let's say that for some inexplicable reason, it happened that way. The next thing we would have to believe with Option #1 is that everyone else thinks that is a great idea! Yep, even though everyone saw Jesus die a public death, and even though his body is decomposing in a heavily guarded tomb, all these frightened, demoralized folk think that a (literally unbelievable) hoax would be a fine idea right about now!

    People believe bizarre things and present them as true all the time. Take the guy who told everyone their souls could be transported by a comet—and even in this age when we are hugely more scientifically sophisticated than when Jesus lived—people believed it. Educated people believed it.

    I am sorry this post is long and I have to leave. But I could go on and on about how your argument that Jesus rose front the dead makes no sense. And when I say “makes no sense” it isn’t logical. I am not saying it’s impossible.

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  64. "There is only one reason to believe anything: Because it's true."

    This statement doesn't ask if people believe things that they perceive as true (even if not true). It says there is only one REASON to believe something. Let me add, then: There is only one LOGICAL reason to believe something, and that's because it's true. You still disagree? If you had a child, would you ever say, "It's good to believe lies. It's good to believe what is not true." I don't think so. You see?

    Hope that is clearer. Of course people believe lies or falsehoods all the time, because it makes them feel good or that is their perception of things. But that is not what I am asking.

    Also, there is a difference between subjective truths:

    "Eating ice cream makes me feel good, but not you."

    and objective truths:

    "The earth is round (for all of us)."

    My question is: What is your criteria for determining objective truth?

    (And, after dinner, I will respond to your answers to my query about Christ's resurrection. Thanks for taking the time.)

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  65. There is only one LOGICAL reason to believe something, and that's because it's true. Yes, as you restate it, that is true.

    My question is: What is your criteria for determining objective truth?
    I have said over and over that it's what I observe to be true. I know the "real" answer is that we believe what God says through Jesus through the Church that Jesus founded. I get it. Honestly, I have nothing more to add to that discussion.

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  66. Sorry I probably should've stated that differently.

    Not you personally, but in general, what is truth? Where does it come from? How do we know what is true, if everyone has different perceptions of truth? What's the criteria for getting there? You don't need to mention Jesus or Christianity in the answer; that's not what I'm looking for specifically because I assume that most people seeking truth don't start out with any knowledge of Christ as God.

    If you don't want to answer that because you feel you've exhausted this, then that's fine. I just want to throw that out for anyone else who is reading.

    And I will get back to you on the Jesus proofs when everyone's asleep and I have some quiet time ha ha.

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  67. Oh, now that I have quiet time I find that I'm exhausted and ready for bed! Before I dive into some of your examples, can we at least agree that we must compare like things?

    For example, let's get rid of an entire category of "People who believe that fantastical things might happen in the future". Yes, we agree, there are many, many people throughout history who have predicted the end of the world, or predicted other things that never came to pass. Then there are other predictors of things that actually seem illogical at first but come true, such as a man on the moon. Other things, like time travel machines, have not happened. But people predicting fantastical futures is totally consistent with what we know of human nature, but it's not what we see with the situation after Jesus's death. The disciples never put forth predictions like that. There was no fantastical future to predict because Christ had died publicly, obviously, truly, and they all knew it. So can we at least take that first category off the table? I hope so. :)

    Tomorrow I will break down the rest of the examples you gave. They are not like Jesus' resurrection either.

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  68. Lurkers:
    What about the wingnuts a couple or so years ago who went around saying the world was coming to an end on a certain date? It was all over the news. All kinds of people believed it even though it made no sense. It boggles the mind what people are willing to believe.

    This argument is a diversion, a form of ridicule of relevant facts presented regarding the authenticity of the gospel of the time.

    Look logically: There’s no comparison when you look at the sources. One must consider the source and the culture that supported the transmission of the news/narratives/stories. One must always consider the source. Not dismiss it based on opinions that today’s news is anything like the culture or times back then. The scribes were meticulously accurate in written transmission. The people of the day relied on facts orally. It’s not the t.v. talk show news joke we have today that passes for ‘journalism’.

    One must look at the accounts in the gospel within the time frame of that day, within the culture of that people, and understand how highly esteemed and necessary the accuracy of the narratives had to be.

    If it’s one thing that is frustrating in relating to people who poo-poo the gospel or tilt at windmills against the accuracy and trustworthiness of the 20,000-plus manuscripts and partial manuscripts available to us as *evidence* of the Resurrection and life of Christ, it’s that people simply refuse to take into account the absolute importance of the culture of a people who relied on orally factual accounts of everything from family lineage to stories of the day at the well gathering jugs of water. They RELIED on oral accuracy.

    It all gets back to the very bottom-rung challenge of fact of: Just who has stood up to accurate and concretely refute all this (resurrection)? Who says, “Hey, it’s now 100AD, you all got it wrong.” No one. Not one shred from archaeology or history.

    Johanne, your dismissal of history doesn’t line up logically or intellectually. It’s based on erroneous comparisons of today’s approach to “news” and a complete misunderstanding of a culture steeped in reliance of orally and accurately transmitted news of that particular day and time.

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  69. Completely off topic, but Leila, can you do a post on Holy Doors? Bishop Monforton is apparently going to bless the door in Christ the King Chapel here at Franciscan University of Steubenville for the Year of Mercy, and I'd never heard of this before.
    Thanks and Preparational Advent! (I say that because it's more accurate than "Merry Christmas!," since we're not in the Christmas season yet.)

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    1. Hi Ann! I had never heard of it until the Jubilee Year in 2000! I can't promise a post on it, but here is something I found that has a bit of an explanation! I'm glad there will be one in every diocese!! :)

      http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/benedict-xvi-will-attend-holy-door-opening-at-vatican-to-start-year-of-mercy-32690/

      Blessed Advent to you!

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  70. Nubby, thank you! That is so well said. I would love for Johanne (or anyone) to respond to that and also to the things you asked about Buddhism. I'm interested.

    As for the rest of Johanne's examples, there is more that I wanted to say about how her examples don't fit at all. Another thing that we all agree on is that people can be brainwashed and people can follow crazy/evil leaders even unto their own deaths. This is part of human nature, and we see it happen (like Jim Jones). And yet, again, this is nothing like what happened with Jesus' followers.

    What happened is, the leader (Christ) was brutally killed. They all saw it. They are not stupid. They know what death is (we are not "smarter" than the ancients in this... we all get what death is). So, they and everyone knew he was dead and they were afraid, very afraid, that they would be next. They hid. They wept.

    Now, let's say one person in the group (very unlikely) had a delusional thought... let's say somehow that person, three days later, decided he had seen Jesus alive! Let's say he told some of the others who were grieving and devastated. What would they have done? Well, think about that... if someone is crazed with grief and starts to be delusional, the rest of the friends would say, "Oh, my friend! You are crazed with grief! Let's get you some rest, some food, some water!" And they would tend to him. They would not suddenly all become delusional and start seeing Christ, and start walking with him, eating with him, putting their fingers in his side (in his wounds, for proof, as St. Thomas did). They would not say or write what they said and wrote.

    Jim Jones may have convinced every one to commit suicide with him, but no one who saw him dead (on TV or in real life) would have been able to convince others that he was suddenly alive again (there is no such thing as a mass delusion of touching, talking to, eating with, appearances of a dead man, unless you are claiming a forty-day David Copperfield-type trick back in the day. When did (or does) that ever happen?

    I'm just not seeing any parallels to what happened in the resurrection.

    How did the disciples all have that mass delusion and optical illusion? How did that happen with hundred and hundreds?

    Hope that makes sense. I'm always rushing to type these things, ha ha.

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  71. @Johanne

    The revivals you speak of are almost unheard of in mainstream Catholicism. So I really can't speak on them.

    My reaction to your statements is based on my experience. Most Catholics who come to the Church because of emotion actually have very logical reasons they did so even if they didn't see that at the time. At the heart of it they judged us by our fruits. I have found a pure emotional conversion is very rare.

    At the end of the day- arguing about if it is emotional or logical isn't a big deal and it isn't a hill I want to die on.

    I agree teenagers are still developing their brain that does not mean they are completely without critical thinking skills or even maturity. I mentioned the need for adults because those skills are still developing and it is easy for teens to be led astray.

    My comment about filling their heads was in reply to your comment about teens being misled.

    Here's what I really wanted to reply to:

    "You have projected a lot of belligerence onto me for no reason whatsoever except, I assume, because I am not a Christian. I am sure you don't intend to be offensive but you will never draw non-believers to Catholicism if you speak to them the way you are to me."

    You've been on this blog for a while haven't you? Years, even? So have I, and while in the past I've enjoyed debating with you, I've found you always end the debate the same way. You set an impossible bar and expect the Catholics here to prove their faith to you.

    "Prove it, prove it, prove it. That's not good enough." That's what we hear from you and many others.

    Instead of relying on us to prove Catholicism is true have you gone out to try to see if it is true for yourself? Have you gone to Church for a while even when you don't feel like it? Have you had a humble heart and asked God repeatedly to help you see/understand/have faith? Have you been open to answers no matter how uncomfortable or painful they are?

    That's the next step. Our job is to show you there is another way. There is another life. Our job is to bring you the good news. But you have to do some of the work too. You have to go out and explore what we've shown you.

    I will never draw you to the Church. Never. That's the Holy Spirit's job. I'm not sure I have ever assisted the Holy Spirit by coddling people. Although, I very much would prefer that path.

    The Church appears to be in the midst of an upheaval. These days it is very common to hear Catholics talk about how tired they are. I think there is a reason for that and it is not a lack of sleep. I think the troops are being rallied. God is pushing all of us and pulling away layers and layers of excuses. There is no question the Church is under attack and you are not going to face the same Catholics today you faced years ago.

    We have a lot more battles on our plates these days. So if I am aggressive it is because I am hoping and praying you'll hear me through it.

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  72. Thank you, Marie. I hear your good intent.

    I want to respond to this:

    " you always end the debate the same way. You set an impossible bar and expect the Catholics here to prove their faith to you. "

    That is not my experience at all. I never expect Catholics to prove anything to me. But often (as in this last post) Leila or someone says they want to hear from non-Catholics what their thoughts are and how no one stays to discuss. So I offer my thoughts, but I never intend to set a high bar or insist that something is proven to me.

    Happy Advent to you.

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  73. I recently started reading The Secret Diary of Elizabeth Leseur. What a lady! I think the main reason that her diary was secret was that it was not her calling to debate with anyone on religion, not even her own atheist husband. As happens, though, many of them were influenced by her example and her prayers. I don't mean to say that discussion and debate don't have their place. Elizabeth, I think, lived as she was inspired to, as we all should.

    This passage in the Diary reminded me of this discussion. I will further preface it to say that I don't claim to know how close God is to, say, you, Johanne. I think He is much closer than you realize. But I do like this passage, and it does apply to the young lady with the anti-religion bumper sticker:

    "Spoke and discussed a great deal with some dear friends who do not believe. More than others I love these beings whom divine light does not illuminate, or rather whom it illuminates in a manner unknown to us with our restricted minds. There is a veil between such souls and God, a veil through which only a few rays of love and beauty may pass. Only God, with a divine gesture, may throw aside this veil; then the true life shall begin for these souls. And I, who am of so little worth, yet believe in the power of the prayers that I never cease to say for these dear souls. I believe in them because God exists, and because He is the Father. I believe in them because I believe in this divine and mysterious law that we call the Communion of Saints. I know that no cry, no desire, no appeal proceeding from the depths of our soul is lost, but all go to God and through Him to those who moved us to pray. I know that only God performs the intimate transformation of the human soul and that we can but point out to Him those we love, saying, “Lord, make them live.”

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  74. Sharon, dang! That is gorgeous!

    I think I might put that on Facebook...

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  75. Maybe the girl would also like this one - "Atheism: Because short-sighted arrogance doesn’t have a nice ring to it."

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  76. Unknown, of course you don't intend to contribute past your diatribe. Hit and run we call it.

    I don't blame you for not wanting to engage, after that outburst.

    And, for the record, the "anger" at the young lady with the bumper sticker was more about her non-thinking rudeness than being upset that she exercises her "freedom from religion". Are you unaware of the insult that the sticker contains?

    Apparently you are unaware, as you appear just a tad angry/rude/insulting yourself.

    If you wish to actually have a conversation rather than just emote and run off feeling vindicated by your own outburst, you are most welcome here.

    God bless!

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